Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Dr. Didem Ekici

Second Advisor

Dr. Luz Garcia

Third Advisor

Dr. Sedique Popal


This mixed-methods study considers the current reality of the “digital divide” as experienced by adult immigrant ESOL learners following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period. Although prior research often assumes foreign-born individuals to have lower rates of access, skills and motivation to engage with technology, or to lack it altogether, this study seeks to contribute a more realistic picture which encompasses the full diversity of digital experiences among the foreign-born population. The review of the literature first covers two levels of the digital divide that often evince socioeconomic disparities: primarily access, skills and usage; and more recently, attitudes and motivation. Then, previous research on immigrants’ relationship to the digital divide is reviewed. The review of literature concludes by examining immigrants’ attitudes toward digital learning as a modality as well as digital skills training.

The third chapter analyzes the results of the “Digital Attitudes Survey,” which was distributed among current and former ESOL students in the San Francisco Bay Area, alongside in-depth interviews with six participants regarding their attitudes and perceptions of technology and online learning modalities. The quantitative and qualitative data reveals participants’ highly positive attitudes toward digital technology, and strong motivation to improve digital proficiency. As illustrated by interviewees’ accounts, the COVID-19 pandemic served to “narrow” the digital divide for many in terms of digital skills, and, to a lesser extent, digital access. The data indicated more ambivalent attitudes toward digital learning modalities for a variety of reasons, owing to a diversity of digital experiences among the population. Nevertheless, all participants highlighted the importance of the incorporation of digital learning in their studies. Conclusions, implications and recommendations for future research are covered in the final chapter.