English as a Second Language (ESL) research is one of the most important areas of current educational research. This paper builds on the evolving trends of second language research towards a focus on the individual learner by researching ESL motivation through interviews. The specific research question is: Why do male Latino immigrant high schoolers learn or not learn English? I start by reviewing the literature and theory that addresses ESL motivation, specifically the traditional macrosociological approach towards second language acquisition (SLA), the role ofthe community in Latino SLA, and the microsociological perspectives that frame questions of personal motivation. I then explain the methodology used to collect my data, including a detailed overview of school environment, participant selection, and study generalizability. In the data analysis, three emerging factors of ESL motivation are examined: the role of the family, language learning as a cultural decision, and the learner's conceptualization of the language process and success and failure. Finally, I present strategies and characteristics from motivated student ESL learners and tie this to policy recommendations and suggestions for further research.


Nurse, Anne M.

Second Advisor

Uber, Diane R.


Sociology and Anthropology; Spanish

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2007 Tina Swartzendruber