Learning English language: Experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and motivation of adult English language learners in an ESL program
Lee, Myunghee Chung
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The purpose of this study is to understand how adult English language learners (ELLs) make sense of their experiences of learning English language and literacy and how those experiences influence their motivations to study English language and literacy in a non-postsecondary ESL program. The guiding questions for this study are: (1) What motivates adult ELLs to come to a non-postsecondary ESL program to learn English language and literacy?; (2) How do they perceive their experiences of learning and practicing English language and literacy in and out of ESL class?; and (3) How do their experiences of learning and practicing English language and literacy influence their motivation to study English? Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 24 adult learners and observations of their classroom interactions. The qualitative methodology of grounded theory was utilized to generate a theory from data. The emergent theory is: The adult ELLs' perceived English language proficiency influences the quality of their learning English in ESL class and living in America. English learning experiences in the adult ELLs' home countries and in America, perceptions of English language and ESL classroom, beliefs about English language, and motivations to learn English affect the adult learners' perceived aural/oral English language proficiency and thus the quality of learning English in ESL class and living in America. Additionally, the concept of identity and sense of belonging are associated with the adult learners' motivation to speak in English and their decision to continue learning in the ESL class, respectively. Based on these findings, this study offers implications for non-postsecondary ESL programs, adult ESL teachers, and future research.