Motivating English Language Learners: A Study of Teacher Perceptions and Implications for Student Achievement in an Urban School
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Due to numerous factors, the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) enrolling in public schools in the United States rapidly increased since 2014. For this reason, many educators have found themselves unprepared to serve the various academic, social, and emotional needs of ELLs. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore teacher perceptions and their behavioral and motivational expectations of ELLs. In this study, the following research questions was posed: What are teacher perceptions regarding the behavior and motivation of ELLs in an urban school? Methods: A qualitative case study was used to analyze common perceptions found in three English teachers of ELLs in an urban high school with a large ELL population in Southeast Texas. Two rounds of individual interviews were conducted with teachers. The resulting categories and themes from the individual interviews were used to develop and refine questions for a mini focus group involving the same study participants. Results: The results showed that a lack of administrative support and efforts for inclusion impacted the behavior and motivation of ELLs. Other influences on the behavior and motivation of ELLs were: Student home environments, codependency of students, and teacher connections. Even though the three participants had valuable information to offer, they all agreed that motivation, behavior, and academic success are tied. Conclusion: The themes discovered are important in seeing students motivated to learn and be academically successful; however, districts and school administrators are highly encouraged to explore ways ELLs can be included in school activities and decisions. The themes found in this study may give insight to school district leaders and to school administrators concerning the behavioral, academic, and motivational concerns they may have about long-term and newcomer ELLs. It is encouraged that researchers conduct further studies regarding factors that can increase motivation and behavioral success in ELLs.