Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Interdisciplinary Program


Carol Nordstrom Toner

Second Committee Member

Claire F. Sullivan

Third Committee Member

Chris Mares


In recent years, service-learning has become more prevalent on university campuses across the country and language immersion programs are starting to take note. This Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) project describes facilitating a service-learning opportunity involving the English as a Second Language (ESL) students enrolled at the Intensive English Institute (IEI) on the University of Maine campus and local community partners. A service-learning opportunity for ESL students at UMaine complements the University’s vision of an engaged campus, as well as UMaine’s Carnegie Community Engagement designation. This paper is a case study that describes the development and implementation of a service-learning project as part of coursework in an Intensive English Program (IEP). This paper is a narration explaining the inspiration and influence for the development of this project, along with the process of organizing and carrying it out. This project includes a study designed to explore what impact the inclusion of a service-learning component had on the ESL students enrolled in the program, specifically student perception of cultural understanding, language acquisition, and confidence in oral and written communication skills. Analysis of the collected data was based on a conceptual framework incorporating the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Standards for Foreign Language Learning using quantitative survey data, along with qualitative document analysis and observation. The results show positive feedback from both the student participants and community partner, signaling that engaging ESL students with local communities is a useful practice. The ESL students participating in the project clearly recognized the meaningful educational experience, not only for the development of their language skills, but also for their contributions to the local community school in promoting cultural awareness.