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Conducted in the Fall 2005, this study examined the experience English as a Second Language (ESL) students had while studying in an intensive English program (IEP) hosted at a four-year college. More specifically, the research premise was that phenomenology, for its emphasis on making essential meaning out of lived experience, could serve as a theoretical framework from which to investigate how the students constructed and perceived their experience, and, in the end, inform ESL instructional, curricular, and theoretical practices in a fresh, new way. The research employed qualitative data collection methods, including interviews, artifacts collection, class observations, and journaling on the part of the researcher. Interviews with program staff and director added a layer of meaning to the students' perceptions of their experience. Data analysis helped present, in a first place, the textural (ontic) descriptions of the students' experience following VanKaam's model of phenomenological horizonalizing, and in a second place, the structural (ontological) essences therein following Van Manen's thematic model. It was found that the students constructed their experience in the IEP along a continuum from linguistic, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, communal, to active areas---which corroborated the Deweyan notions of continuity and interaction in experience. Next, eleven themes helped birth the essences of the students' experience and these addressed concepts such as pain, growth, self quest, hope, resilience, agency, friendship, community, loneliness, liberation, and claim to empowerment. When considered in light of the teachers' and program director's discourses, the students' voices pointed to the necessity of re-integrating self-awareness, pedagogical critical reflection, a love ethic, a pedagogy of relations, of presentness, and of the unique back into ESL daily instruction. The study also found that in order to fully honor ESL students' experience in an IEP, the ESL curriculum was to be a life-large curriculum or a spiritual post-modern curriculum. It was argued that human action research could provide a novel pathway for ESL theory building. Suggestions were offered towards the feasibility of an ESL relational pedagogy and a culturally-authentic performance assessment alternative to the TOEFL. In contrast to more traditional and technocratic approaches focusing solely on second language achievement and fluency measurement, phenomenology, as a research procedure, breathed life and spirit anew into the students as whole persons and humanized the ESL educational experience and processes.