Date of Award

Fall 10-4-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Christopher Maddox, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Judy Shoemaker, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Barbara Calabro, Ph.D.


The population of English language learners (ELLs) continues to increase within public schools across the United States; this includes a shift from traditional urban settings to extensive growth within suburban and rural school districts in the Midwest. Although there is research regarding how ELLs are perceived in the school structure, it is not known how middle school teachers’ perceptions of ELLs within a Midwestern rural and suburban middle school setting influence the pedagogical practices utilized within the general education classroom. This hermeneutic phenomenological study examined how teachers within a Midwestern middle school serving perceived ELLs and how those perceptions influenced pedagogical practices utilized within the school environment. Vygotsky’s role of language and social interaction, V.P. Collier’s interrelating language acquisition for school theory, and Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition guided this study. The research questions addressed by this study stemmed from the conceptual framework and explored how teachers perceived ELLs academically, linguistically, and emotionally, and the pedagogical practices utilized for students acquiring a second language. Crucial findings included participants perceived the timeframes for acquiring academic language longer than conversational acquisition and effective pedagogical practices to address academic needs of ELLs were described. Perceptions varied regarding differentiation of tasks aligned to language acquisition levels and how the emotional needs of ELLs impact the learning process. Implications for transformation of society included the importance of meeting the emotional needs of ELLs and how the promotion of empathy within all classrooms could encourage an environment of acceptance.

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