Because they said so: Life stories of four college students in Puerto Rico and the influential factors in their English learning process

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Soto Santiago, Sandra L.
Embargoed Until
Mazak, Catherine M.
College of Arts and Sciences - Arts
Department of English
Degree Level
This investigation used life history to understand the different factors that have influenced the current motivations to learn English and perceptions about this language of several learners at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus (UPRM). Four first-year students were purposely selected to include students from both public and private educational settings, a return migrant and an international student were also part of the sample. Life histories were collected through a series of interview protocols and a focus group. The data was analyzed using a model of instrumental/integrative motivational orientations for learning a second language. Parents and teachers were found to be the greatest influence in these students’ language acquisition. Participants however, reported that teachers were mostly responsible for the amount of English that they had learned. In addition, other motivational orientations such as technological and leisure were also found to be present in the lives of the participants.

Esta investigación utilizó historias de vida para entender los factores que han influenciado las motivaciones para aprender inglés y las percepciones de varios estudiantes en el Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez (UPRM). Cuatro estudiantes de primer año fueron seleccionados intencionalmente para incluir participantes que estudiaron en escuelas públicas y privadas. Un estudiante que vivió en Estados Unidos y un estudiante internacional también fueron parte del grupo. Las historias de vida se compilaron a través de entrevistas y un grupo focal. Los datos se analizaron utilizando un modelo de orientación motivacional dividido en motivación instrumental e integrativa. Los padres y maestros resultaron tener la mayor influencia en el aprendizaje de inglés de estos estudiantes. Sin embargo, los participantes reportaron que los maestros eran mayormente responsables por el inglés que estos aprendieron. También se encontró que otras orientaciones relacionadas al uso de tecnología y pasatiempos estuvieron presentes en las vidas de los participantes.
Learning English language-motivation,
ESL-higher education,
Self perception-English language-proficiency
Soto Santiago, S. L. (2009). Because they said so: Life stories of four college students in Puerto Rico and the influential factors in their English learning process [Thesis]. Retrieved from