Understanding the Impact of Social Networks on ESL Proficiency

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Minahil Kausar
Swaleha Bano Naqvi
Muhammad afzaal


Given the importance of English for academic success and socio- economic mobility in Pakistan, proficiency in English as a Second language (ESL) is a necessity for Pakistani learners who aspire for better employability, social mobility, and academic success. However, despite the importance of comprehensible input in L2 for language learners’ progression, most Pakistani ESL learners have limited L2 exposure or opportunities to develop their L2 skills, particularly in their home networks wherein the use of Urdu or regional languages is favored. Adopting the theoretical lens of Milroy's social network theory (1987), this study investigates how Pakistani ESL learners’ social networks comprising family members, friends and peers promote or hinder their L2 learning. The data for the study was collected through questionnaires and interviews implemented with BS undergraduate ESL learners at a Pakistani university. This study finds that participants with weak and multiplex ties are more likely to make gains in L2 proficiency. In contrast, strong and uniplex ties hinders Pakistani ESL learners from improving their L2 proficiency as the learners tend to predominantly use Urdu or regional languages when communicating within such networks. Based on these findings, it is argued that social networks can be leveraged by ESL learners to gain exposure to English and opportunities for L2 learning.

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Kausar, M., Naqvi, S. B., & afzaal, M. (2022). Understanding the Impact of Social Networks on ESL Proficiency. NUML Journal of Critical Inquiry, 19(II), 17–40. https://doi.org/10.52015/numljci.v19iII.197