Driven to Learn: A Study on Why English Language Learner Students Lose Literacy Motivation, and What Can Be Done About It




Berryman, Stephanie

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Research suggests that ELL students, as they become more proficient in English, paradoxically become less motivated. This study sought to discover, through observation, artifacts, and teacher interviews, why ELLs’ motivation for literacy learning drops in the middle school grades and what parents and teachers can do to improve their students’ motivation. This qualitative case study (Stake, 1995) focuses on the interviews and teachings of a seventh-grade English as a Second Language teacher at a rural/suburban middle school in central Texas. Data from observations and interviews were analyzed using constant comparative analysis (Glaser and Strauss, 1999) to identify themes: use of technology, selection of appropriate texts, and the influence of culture, family, and peers. Although further research is needed on student perspectives on motivation, this study recommends that teachers can engage ELL students through using new literacies (technology), selecting texts related to student identity, and integrating students’ cultural strengths.



English, language, learners, motivation, Honors College


Berryman, S. (2011). Driven to learn: A study on why English language learner students lose literacy motivation, and what can be done about it (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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