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ERIC Number: ED531695
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 110
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-9771-7
Adult English as a Second Language Students in the United States: Learner Characteristics, Goals, and Academic Writing Performance
Lambert, Olga Demin
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Harvard University
Adult English as a second language (ESL) students learning English outside of traditional academic settings are an understudied population of second language learners. The purpose of the research reported here is to contribute to meeting the instructional needs of these students more effectively by investigating the relationships between their goals, beliefs, self-concept as ESL learners, and performance. In my qualifying paper (Lambert, 2007), I designed and piloted a questionnaire aimed at assessing adult ESL students' goals, beliefs, and definitions of success related to learning English, as well as their patterns of actual English use outside of the classroom--all factors that have been shown to be important contributors to success in SLA. In my thesis, I used this questionnaire to conduct three linked studies aimed at providing a clearer picture of adult ESL students' learner characteristics and exploring the relationships between these characteristics and the students' performance in their ESL courses. In the first study, by analyzing the questionnaire data from a sample of 185 community college ESL students, I constructed a detailed description of the students' beliefs and emotional states related to learning English as well as their patterns of English use outside the classroom and social networks. In the second study, I examined these students' learning goals compared to those of ESL students enrolled in adult education programs. The three goal dimensions salient for community college ESL students were Practical Concerns, Participating in Society, and Communicating Information. In the third study, I used multiple regression to investigate whether learner characteristics predicted students' performance in their ESL courses as measured by a standardized writing assessment. I found that among employed students, those who cared for children under 18 and used more English at work tended to show smaller gains in their writing scores over the course of the semester, while those who used more English at home showed larger gains. Among unemployed students, more years of English study in the home country and planning to return home were associated with greater gains. This information may help community colleges in the early identification of students at risk and improving retention by addressing their needs more effectively. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A