Adult Female English Language Learners: Investment, Identity and Benefits



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ELLs are a growing community in the United States and their learning needs are significantly different from younger learners, collegiate ELLs or Adult Basic Education students. Additionally, adult female ELLs have their own needs and motives for investing in the English language. This study explores the self-recounted experiences of three adult female English language learners? (ELLs) motivation for investing in English language learning, their identities and the benefits gained in a nonacademic learning setting in Texas.

Data for this study was gathered using a background questionnaire, individual interview, group interview and in-class observation using an instrument that looks for visible markers of investment. First, each participant?s investment and identity are analyzed with regard to how the two intersect and influence each other throughout the language learning experience. Second, investment and benefits are examined and presented to demonstrate before and after pictures of the participants? experiences learning English, asking, ?Have the learners gained what they sought to gain?? and ?Is it worth it??

Findings substantiate prior research on the influence that investment and identity have on each other in language learning, while also clearly demonstrating the explicit relationship between investment and benefits. The study concludes with an understanding that adult educators must recognize the individuality of each adult learner and her circumstances.