A Critical Exploration of How English Language Learners Experience Nursing Education

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With nursing education reform calling for greater numbers of graduates from diverse backgrounds, this study explored the experiences of students who identified as English language learners (ELs).


Educators may view students from underrepresented groups at the margins of nursing education. Minimal research on the experiences of students identifying as ELs exists.


Interpretive phenomenological and critical methodologies were used to explore students' lived experiences in the nursing classroom.


Academic progress involved additional time and effort dedicated to learning English and the languages of health care and nursing. Traditional and monocultural pedagogical practices, representing acts of power and dominance, thwarted learning. Yet students made progress despite less effective pedagogical practices and socioeconomic realities. This inquiry began with one notion of identity, “English-learners,” but evolved to students' perceptions of “being-in-the-world,” wholeness, and future endeavors.


This study counters the dominant view that students without a greater command of English are not ready for the rigors of nursing education.

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