Tameka AllenFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Deanna Keith


Foreign Language Learning, High School, Persistence, Second Language Motivation


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Other Education


The purpose of this multiple case study was to investigate the factors contributing to the persistence of successful foreign language learners who chose to continue studying a foreign language beyond the high school graduation requirement. The theories guiding this study are Gardner and Lambert’s 1972 Socio-Educational Model (SEM) of motivation (as cited by Gardner, 2010), Deci and Ryan’s (2002) Self Determination Theory (SDT), and Dörnyei’s (2005) L2 Motivational Self System. The participants were 14 high school students who were enrolled in a level four or Advanced Placement foreign language class. Interviews, classroom observations, and the Attitudes/Motivation Test and Battery (Gardner, 1985) were utilized for data collection. The data were then analyzed by an interpretational analysis process. Students described their foreign language learning experiences as positive yet difficult. The factors that contributed to student persistence were early exposure to the language, teachers, positive class environments, effort expended on the part of the student, and language opportunities outside of the class. All students exhibited instrumental and integrative motivational orientations. Finally, students were motivated to continue studying their foreign language by experiencing language breakthroughs, desire to become fluent, familiarity with the language, and being presented with authentic ways to apply the language. An investigation that examines why students do not continue in foreign language programs, a longitudinal study that looks at student journeys for the duration of their foreign language career, and a replication study that utilizes a larger sample taken from a larger geographical area are recommendations for further research.