Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Suzanne Harrison

Second Advisor

Ginny Birky

Third Advisor

Susanna Steeg


The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the perceptions of older Latino teenagers regarding their experiences as long-term English language learners. The data were gained from in-depth interviews based on a phenomenological methodology. The participants were interviewed individually using a modified three-part interview structure. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using initial and thematic coding to identify common and related themes. The data was presented primarily using participant quotes to illustrate identified themes. The results of the study were organized into three major aspects of the culturally and linguistically diverse participants’ life experiences: Articulations of Personal Identity; Relationships with Parents, Family, and Latino Peers; and Experiences in School and the Local Community. The participants articulated a cultural identity that was clearly different than that of their Spanish-dominant, immigrant parents, but also different than the mainstream “White” culture. Linguistically, the participants dealt with issues of fluency in both their native language and their second language of English. In all endeavors, the participants’ primary motivation in life was their desire to support their loved ones and improve their families’ situations in life. In experiences with the school and local community, the data showed that participants had experienced difficulty navigating the American educational system and also felt a lack of cultural representation at school. The data also revealed that participants articulated ongoing experiences of racism through their stories, yet had a difficult time defining acts as instances of racism. The findings of this study may contribute to a better understanding of the life and scholastic experiences of long-term English language learners. Possibilities for future research included an examination of how the results could be applied by educators and school districts, particularly in the areas of building and maintaining teacher-student relationships, developing culturally responsive instructional practices, and creating more effective district family outreach programs