Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jeria, Jorge

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers; Adult students; Adult education; Adult education; Community college education; English as a second language


The purpose of this study was to explore perceptions of adult English-language learners' life transitions and identity construction resulting from their experience in noncredit (ESL) programs offered at a community college. Two research questions guided this study: (1) How do adult English-language learners perceive the role of ESL programs in their identity construction? (2) How do adult English-language learners perceive the role of ESL programs in their life transitions? Twenty-four intermediate and advanced ESL students participated in this study, and the basic interpretive qualitative research method was used to understand their perspectives. Interviews were the means of data collection.||Three major themes and numerous subthemes emerged from the interviews and were organized into three parts. Findings in Part I: "I Have a Lot of Confidence in Myself": English Learning and Identity Development, uncovered how adult English-language learners changed their self-perceptions as they became more confident, which, in turn, helped them become part of a community and independent from others. Developing self-confidence caused them also to feel better in life and as parents. Part II: "I Changed my Life Like 100 Percent": English Learning and Life Transitions, revealed participants' perceptions of their life changes after starting to attend noncredit ESL classes at a community college. Many of them were able to change a job to a better one or find a job. They also became aware of new opportunities and possibilities in their lives. Part III: "It's Just Good Atmosphere": Response to Adult English Learners' Needs, presented participants' reflections on how their needs were being met in a noncredit ESL program at a community college. They discussed their experiences in terms of ESL teachers, ways of learning English in the classroom, and the program's response to their needs. Subsequently, they presented ideas about desired characteristics of ESL teachers, preferred ways of learning, and improvements to the program to serve them better.


Advisors: Jorge Jeria.||Committee members: Laura R. Johnson; Richard Orem.


251 pages




Northern Illinois University

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