Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy



Faculty Advisor(s)

Leonard Finkelman

Subject Categories

Applied Linguistics | First and Second Language Acquisition | Modern Languages | Philosophy | Philosophy of Language


In directing our attention to mundane aspects of the human experience, we can discover new ways of interacting with and understanding the world. One such formative experience, regularly seen as mundane in much of the world, is learning a second language. It is no exaggeration to say that second language acquisition is one of the processes which most influences and drives our globalized world, and yet we understand and study this process relatively little.

Continuing the trends of naturalizing phenomenological inquiry, this project attempts to evaluate phenomenological approaches to skill acquisition alongside second language acquisition theory and research through an explicitly embodied lens. Through this pluralistic methodology, acquiring a second language can be reevaluated as a process which reveals much about how human beings interact with and understand their environment. In emphasizing the phenomenological aspects, it is possible to understand this process as attuned to lived experience. Finally, an embodied (especially enactive) lens decentralizes philosophically, and scientifically, problematic representationalist understandings of the mind and intelligence, further resituating our relationship with reality and language as a lived, irreducible process. Phenomenology of language, in general, offers an atypical take on language that moves philosophers away from use of representation and towards lived experience. This project focuses in on the understudied process of second language acquisition.