Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Teresa Dalle

Committee Member

Angela Thevenot

Committee Member

Mark Conely


AbstractAlrayes, Muhammad AbdulMohsin. PhD. The University of Memphis. May 2020. The Role of First Language Literacy on Second Language Literacy: The Perceptions of Graduate Saudi Students in US Universities. Major Professor: Dr. Emily Thrush.ArrayThis study attempted to gather the perceptions of graduate Saudi students in the United States about the role of their first/second languages'(L1/L2) literacy transfer during their graduate work. The ultimate goal of this study is to reach a level of understanding about what specific role a students L1 literacy and educational background could play in shaping their L2 literacyduring graduate studies in an ESL context. Building on existing literature of L1/L2 literacy transfer, this study asks: How do graduate Saudi students in the US perceive their L1/L2 literacy transfer during their graduate work? The main theoretical framework this study follows is James Cummins' Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP).ArrayA mixed-methods approach is used to achieve the purpose of this study. A questionnaire was distributed among fifty participants, who were divided into two groups: 25 males and 25 females. The questionnaire was followed up by a semi-structured interview wherefour of the participants were selected using purposive sampling serving the purpose of this study. The qualitative analysis model followed in this study during the different stages of analyzing the interviews includes: organizing the data, categorizing and coding the data, proposing themes based on the categories made previously, and writing the results.ArrayThe findings of this study support the existence of L1/L2 literacy transfer, whether it is negative or positive. There was emphasis on the need to improve the teaching of L1 literacy skills in Saudi Arabia, according to the participants of this study. Also, the findings revealed that participants' L2 academic writing was a challenging stage they have faced during their L2 learning journey, due to the negative L1/L2 transfer. Finally, some participants indicated the positive transfer role of their rich L1 vocabulary toward their L2 literacy success. However, further longitudinal/comparative studies are recommended to focus on specific learners with strong/limited L1 literacy skills who continue their studies in the second language.


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Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest