Transfer capital or transfer deficit: A dual perspective of english learning of esl college transfer students

Dennis Foung, Kin Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This research addressed a research gap in scrutinizing the language problems of English as a second language (ESL) transfer students (TSs) with regard to the aspects of “transfer deficit” and “transfer capital”, instead of simply labelling the use of English as a “transfer deficit”. One hundred and twenty-four TSs participated in this qualitative study. From qualitative content analysis, three main categories were identified: (a) English competence as transfer capital; (b) English competence as transfer deficit; and (c) transition from deficit to capital. Based on the results, educational practitioners are advised to pay attention to the specific implications of proficiency-based courses, with support measures not limited to essay-writing or referencing skills, but including advanced research writing genres such as the Capstone Project.

Original languageEnglish
Article number214
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Academic performance
  • Associate degree
  • Higher diploma
  • Transfer capital
  • Transfer deficit
  • Transfer students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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