Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy


Immigration reform is a current and controversial issue in the United States and around the globe. Although it is unlikely that comprehensive immigration reform is immediately forthcoming in the United States, plans proposed by both liberal and conservative law-makers require those applying for long-term residency to hold employment and demonstrate a working knowledge of the English language. Given that these goals are often difficult to achieve in tandem, enacted immigration reform may suggest that businesses offer English language courses on the job in order to facilitate the legalization process. Answering important questions regarding the process of successful language acquisition, particularly among an immigrant population, will enable instructors to provide greater assistance to their students. The current study examines the influence of age of arrival, motivational orientations and social factors including group cohesion on language use and proficiency as well as on workplace behavior in a sample of immigrants to the United States. There was some support for our primary hypotheses, in that motivational intensity and group cohesion do appear to impact language learning outcomes. However, this impact does not appear to be generated by increased course attendance, which does not show consistent significant relationships with our predictor variables, nor our outcome variables. Additionally, specific motivational orientations do not show significant relationships with attendance or learning outcomes. Limitations of the study and implications for workplace language learning are discussed.

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