The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Steve Madden

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Augusto Rojas

Keywords and Subject Headings

Second Language, Learning, Achievement, Motivation, Sub-Saharan, Students


Many students from Sub-Saharan African countries are coming to the United States to study and acquire an English degree. The spread of English as the number one language in the world is an inspiration for students from different parts of the world to develop interest in learning the English language. These students' interest and motivation to study English as a Second Language varies for different reasons. Our understanding of Second Language Leaming motivation of students from Sub-Saharan. African countries is limited because of the limited studies available for students from_ these countries. In this study, interview questions were adapted from an ethnographic interview model used by Spradley ( 1979). Ten participants from Sub-Saharan African countries studying in a Mid-West university in the Upper Mid-West of the United States responded to the interview questions. Participants' audio responses to 15 interview questions were transcribed and analyzed to compile what students' reports about their motivations for learning the English language.

The results suggest that out of the six different types of motivations, which are internal /external, intrinsic/extrinsic and instrumental/integrative motivation, only five of - motivations are commonly used by this student population. Internal motivation is the least utilized type of motivation, while instrumental motivation plays a huge role in these students' motivation in learning an additional language. Second language acquisition is also related to community integration, but integrative motivation appears to be challenging and one of the least utilized type of motivation in this study. Most of these students intentionally chose to interact with nonnative speakers of the English language because of either pronunciation issues or shyness because of their accent. Students with pronunciation issues preferred not to do classroom presentations if they have an option. The presentation of this study includes a discussion of the findings followed by suggestions for further research and for teachers.


Thanks to my thesis committee members, Dr. Madden, Dr. Robinson, and Dr. Rojas, who offered invaluable feedback and suggestions to the realization of this study. They instilled in me the motivation to accomplish of this work within the set time frame. A special thanks to Dr. Madden for his endless support of my efforts.

Many thanks to all the wonderful African students who offered their precious time during summer vacation for the interview sessions. Your support and cooperation went a long way to make this work a success. Thanks to my classmates and friends who were there for me and always willing to help. I will forever remember all you did.

Thanks to my brothers and sisters for all the encouragement I received and learned from. I understand you are all looking up to me and I am glad you have always been there. To my aunts, uncles, and cousins-words cannot tell how privileged I feel having you all. A hat-up to my in-laws for the love and support you have shown me.

Thanks to Mom and Dad who have unconditionally loved me and always will. Mom, your prayers kept me going each day as I hit the road for classes. Thanks for taking my calls and listening to me when I cried for help. From Dad's endless reminder of hard work, his famous words of "a self-made man" have been and will always be a source of inspiration to me.

Thank you to my precious Hubby Papa Joe, who has endured my external processing and has been incredibly supportive. Know that you are loved and will always be. Thanks to all the students who waved and brought joy throughout my educational journey at St. Cloud State University.

This thesis is dedicated to my late grandfather who taught me how to love and invest time and money in education. It is also dedicated to my mother who has faith in me and has relentlessly supported me through this lifelong journey

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow. -Oliver Wendell Holmes

If you can speak three languages, you're trilingual. If you can speak two languages, you're bilingual. If you can speak only one language, you're an American. -Author Unknown

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. -Nelson Mandela



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