Date of Award
EdD Doctor of Education
Diane Lapp, EdD; Robert L. Infantino, EdD; Douglas B. Fisher, PhD
beliefs, children & youth, education, elementary schools, English language learners, qualitative, second language acquisition, students, teachers
Second language acquisition has increased in importance in elementary schools throughout the United States due, in part, to the growing numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs) as well as an economic and social demand for native English speakers to learn world languages. The purpose of this study was to investigate elementary teachers' beliefs regarding the factors that contribute to successfully learning a second language, whether students are ELLs learning English as a new language or English speakers learning a new language. More specifically, this study compared the opinions of elementary teachers of successful ELLs with teachers of English speakers successfully learning a new language. This study employed a mixed methods approach to identify and elucidate the factors teachers of second language learners believe influence successful second language acquisition. Data collection included two web-based surveys; one for teachers of English Language Learners and one for teachers of English speakers learning a second language. The web-based surveys included questions about teachers' demographics, Likert Scale items, and open-ended items. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to analyze and report the results of the survey items. To further clarify and substantiate the survey findings, personal interviews were conducted. Qualitative methods were used to analyze this data. The findings from each group of teachers were compared for similarities and differences. The results of the Likert Scale items showed more consistencies than differences among the beliefs of teachers of both ELLs and English speakers learning a second language. Mean responses for both groups of teachers indicated that teachers of both groups believed factors such as parent encouragement, second language instruction at school, attendance, student interest in many topics, students' desire to be bilingual, and students' pride in their native culture influenced the success of their second language learning. Significant differences in teacher beliefs regarding factors that support successful language acquisition were shown in four areas: socio economic status of successful second language learners, practice in the second language, aptitude for second language learning, and first language proficiency. The results of the open-ended survey items indicated that teachers of both groups believed that second language learners' home and family life and intrinsic motivation were factors that supported successful second language learning. Teachers who participated in the personal interviews stressed the role of the teacher in supporting successful second language learners, the students' intrinsic motivation, and parents' values regarding second language learning. These findings suggested that teachers of ELLs and teachers of English speakers learning a second language had very similar beliefs regarding the factors that supported successful second language learning, whether students were ELLs learning English as a new language or English speakers learning a new language.
Dissertation: Open Access
Digital USD Citation
McDonald, Joann M. EdD, "Teachers' Beliefs about the Factors that Support Successful Second Language Acquisition of Elementary School Students" (2008). Dissertations. 785.