• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

English language learners' motivation to engage in reading

Dissertation
Author: Jennifer Lynn Robinson
Abstract:
This paper is a combination of two articles intended to lead the reader through the author's journey of first finding a definition of motivation to engage and then conducting a qualitative study with adolescent English language learners in order to uncover patterns of motivation to engage with reading. Engagement and motivation are frequently used to describe characteristics needed for success in reading (Czikszentmihaly, 1997; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999). However, it has been stated that motivation needs to precede engagement in reading (Johnson & Blair, 2003; Meltzer & Hamann, 2004). Educators want and need to understand what motivates students to engage with reading since engagement with reading and reading achievement are positively correlated (Guthrie, 2004; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999; Meltzer & Hamann, 2004). Furthermore, the motivation of our English language learners is crucial as we see their enrollments increase in US schools (Klinger, Artiles, & Barletta, 2006). This paper discusses the concepts of engagement, motivation, motivation to engage, and what we need to do next for English language learners. In the qualitative study, sixth grade English language learners' (ELLs) motivation to engage in reading was examined in order to explore the following questions: (1) What activities, people, and/or topics will motivate ELLs to engage in reading, and (2) Why is it difficult for ELLs to find motivation to engage in reading in English, especially when they are already able to read in their native language? To answer these questions, observational and interview data were collected from ELLs from November of 2008 through May of 2009. Analysis of this data revealed three main elements found to motivate ELLs to engage in reading: (1) the assigned task, (2) family and grades, and (3) the teacher and read alouds. This paper will explore the results of this research, as well as apply the findings and illuminate the implications for teaching and motivating English language learners to engage in reading.

vi TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………………………………..….iii

ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………….…………………..iv

LIST OF TABLES…………………………………………………….…………………..viii

ARTICLE ONE

1. INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………….1

2. MOTIVATION………………………………………………………….……...2

Intrinsic Motivation…………………………………………………....………..3

Extrinsic Motivation………………………………………………………….…4

3. ENGAGEMENT………………………………………………………….…….6

4. MOTIVATION TO ENGAGE…………………………………………….…....9

5. READING ENGAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION OF ELLS…………………9

ARTICLE ONE REFERENCES……………………………….…………………………..13

ARTICLE TWO

1. EXISTING SCHOLARSHIP…………………………………………………...19

2. METHOD…………………………………………………………………….…27

3. RESULTS……………………………………………………………………….34

4. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS…………………………………………48

ARTICLE TWO REFERENCES……………………………………………………………52

APPENDIX

A. PARTICIPANT FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW…………………………………..62

B. TEACHER QUESTIONNAIRE………………………………………………...63

C. PARENT QUESTIONNAIRE…………………………………………………..65

vii

D. READING LOG…………………………………………………………………67

E. MOTIVATION FOR READING QUESTIONNAIRE…………………………..68

F. OBSERVATION CODES………………………………………………………..71

viii

LIST OF TABLES

1. WIDA Descriptors for Levels 4 and 5 Language Proficiency……………………………72 2. Participant Descriptors……………………………………………………………………73

ix Dedication

This project is dedicated first and foremost to Russ, Tracey, and my children. I also want to dedicate this project to all of my students with whom I have helped foster the love of reading through the sharing of hot chocolate, art, conversation, or whatever other mode we wanted to use in order to explore books. Know that I help you with reading out of my own love of reading (and you) and all of the adventures and knowledge that comes from it. I hope you can also say that I helped make reading come alive for you.

1 Motivation to Engage in Reading Ollman (1993) stated, “Choosing what to read is part of becoming a reader. Real world readers do not wait for teachers to tell them what to read” (p. 648). As a K-12 educator, I find that this quote becomes ever more real as the school year progresses. I have students who love to read and I have students who maintain apathy for reading. The students who love to read will devour books and require multiple trips to the library within any given month. The students who are apathetic toward reading will read the same book for an entire quarter or even an entire semester and still not be able to tell me any main ideas or details. However, for some students, apathy is not the issue. Other challenges prevail in their lives. Being an English language learner (ELL) compounds an already challenging process of learning to read. For students who must acquire language and reading simultaneously, drumming up motivation to read in English can be a daily challenge (Peregoy & Boyle, 2000). Even when ELLs gain proficiency in the language, it can still be difficult to find the motivation to continue reading in English for anything other than a grade or to complete an assignment (Klinger, Artiles, & Barletta, 2006; Wang & Pape, 2007; Xu, 1999). Because I teach primarily ELLs, I am always listening for what motivates my students to read in addition to listening for when and why they engage with a certain story. In order to have a better understanding of what motivates ELLs to engage in reading, I need to distinguish between the terms motivation and engagement. I also need to understand if one can precede the other or if they can happen simultaneously. Therefore, I will lead you through my exploration of what motivation is, what engagement is, and how I came to believe that a student is motivated to engage in reading. I end by proposing a need to uncover ELL patterns of motivation to engage in reading.

2 Motivation Although many scholars disagree on a strict definition of motivation, they agree that motivation includes movement whether driven by inner forces, sustained traits, certain behaviors, or established individual beliefs and affects (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Paris and Oka (1986) assert that motivation is the will and skill to learn. Snow and Farr (1983) state that motivation is the purposeful endeavor toward a goal. Keller (1991) adds that motivation refers to the choices made based on experiences, goals, and the amount of effort put forth to accomplish a goal. Pintrich and Schunk (2002) define motivation as a process in which a goal directed behavior is instigated and sustained. Overall, these definitions involve movement, are very similar, and build upon each other. I propose a definition that encompasses all aspects of these definitions: motivation is a behavior that is instigated based on experiences, goals, and the effort necessary to complete an activity. Using this definition as a starting point, I now discuss three agreed upon tenets of motivation that undergird this definition: (1) motivation is a process, (2) it has a beginning or end goal, and (3) the goal involves action. These tenets shed light on the specific nature of motivation. I discuss each in turn. Since motivation is a process, we cannot observe it directly. However, we can infer motivation from choices made, effort to complete the choices, persistence to complete the choice, and what is said about persisting to complete a certain choice (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Next, motivation begins with a goal. The far ranging goal of the activity may not be clear, but a person will have some immediate idea in mind that leads him or her to complete the activity. For example, a teacher may have assigned a book report for students to complete. However, the teacher has not given clear parameters for completing the book report. Since the student has completed book reports for other teachers, he or she has an idea of what the end product should look like. So, the

3 goal appears to be semi-clear: to complete a book report. Even though the student may not understand exactly what the teacher wants at the moment, he or she has the background knowledge that will keep him or her motivated to complete the book report. The activity, then, represents the final tenet. This activity will require either physical or mental effort such as rehearsing, organizing, monitoring, decision-making, and/or problem-solving (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). For reading, these tenets might take this path. Being able to construct meaning while reading is a process that an individual is motivated to do (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). However, constructing meaning as a result of being motivated to complete an activity is not just one set of skills, it is a complex set of goals and beliefs that determine a behavior (Feger, 2006). Readers who are able to make meaning of what they are motivated to read are using cognitive strategies. In addition, they use other strategies such as using background knowledge, forming new questions, answering old questions, looking for new information, and continually organizing and reorganizing meaningful material (Guthrie, Wigfield, & Perencevich, 2004). Using reading strategies is a function of motivation and stems from two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. These forms of motivation are important as many students who easily learn to read, successfully learn to read, or who struggle to read are motivated based on internal and (or) external motivators (Deci, 1992; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dickinson, 1995; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Guthrie, 2004; Lutz, Guthrie, & Davis, 2006; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Intrinsic Motivation Intrinsic motivation is the drive to complete an activity just to do it (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dickinson 1995; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Intrinsic motivation depends upon a person's feeling about completing a certain activity (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dickinson 1995). How a person feels about an activity can change over time depending on circumstances and resources (Pintrich &

4 Schunk, 2002). Intrinsically motivated readers will pursue books to read during free time (Ryan & Deci, 2000). However, intrinsically motivated readers do not limit their reading to only pleasure reading. They also seek out challenging material or whatever is needed to fulfill a need at a given moment and, because of this, these readers are typically high achieving readers (Sweet, Guthrie, & Ng, 1998). Intrinsic motivation leads to more effective learning (Deci, 1992; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Guthrie, 2004; Lutz, Guthrie, & Davis, 2006) in situations where the learner feels he or she can be successful or has succeeded in the past (Dickinson, 1995; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). If students feel successful in class, this leads to more intrinsic motivation to continue to complete tasks. This student can proceed with an activity without anxiety about completing the task because he or she has previously completed the same or similar tasks. In other words, this student understands the end goal and the kind of sustained persistence needed to finish the activity (Deci, 1992; Dickinson, 1995; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Extrinsic Motivation Extrinsic motivation is the drive for the activity to come to an end (Dickinson, 1995; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Extrinsically motivated tasks are usually completed for reasons other than being interested in a task (Dickinson, 1995). Generally a reward is offered as a contingency for completing a task. This reward can vary, but it is used to help a person sustain motivation through completion of a task. Although extrinsic motivators can encourage someone to complete a task, the person may lose motivation to complete the task again if the contingency reward is no longer available (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Even though offering some type of contingency reward to a person who was previously intrinsically motivated to complete a task can actually decrease internal motivation and potentially diminish the effectiveness of completing the task, this

5 type of motivation is often used (albeit out of necessity) for encouraging students to complete a task in which they do not have the intrinsic motivator (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Oftentimes the lack of intrinsic motivation results from the lack of knowledge or understanding needed to complete a task (Dickinson 1995; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). This is especially true when a teacher is introducing a new concept in a class. For example, in a foreign language class, a teacher may provide a treat (e.g. a piece of candy) for each new vocabulary word a student can identify in the language being learned. According to the information above, as the student begins to feel success and understands the goal of learning the new vocabulary, intrinsic motivation should develop and lead to continued learning (because the student now understands the goal and is learning the skills to complete the task). If success does not occur or leads to intrinsic motivation for learning, the teacher will still supply external motivations such as grades, tests, and feedback as a way to continue to motivate the student to learn new vocabulary. On the other hand, for a student who already maintained intrinsic motivation, that intrinsic motivation may wane as the reward becomes less and less related to learning. Students who view the vocabulary learning as intrinsically motivating will use tests simply as feedback without a great deal of anxiety. However, those students who continue to need external motivators to learn new concepts will continue or begin to view tests and grades as teacher-controlled and will not pursue learning new concepts as an intrinsically motivated activity (Deci & Ryan 1985; Dickinson, 1995; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Motivation provides a good starting point for educators. It is extremely important to understand what motivates our students to read. We need to know if our students read for a pizza coupon, read to learn, or read to escape into another world. Are they excited when they come to the end of a book because they are done? Or are they excited because they have discovered the end of

6 the path for the characters in the story? Understanding internal and external motivators of our students affords some insight about why students complete activities such as reading (Marks, 2000; McKool, 2007; Meltzer & Hamann, 2006). However, and linked to motivation, we must also understand why and how they engage. In this time and place, engagement does not simply mean to do an activity, but it means having intense concentration that allows students to fall into another time and place regardless of the external or internal motivators that got them there in the first place. As Wilhem’s (2008) students suggest, “You gotta be the book.” Engagement Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris (2004) state that engagement as a term by itself is messy. “Sometimes it overlaps with other constructs, sometimes it simply substitutes different terminology for the same constructs, and sometimes it incorporates constructs from other literatures in very general rather than precise ways” (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004, p. 84). They continue that even though the term engagement has the advantage of being an umbrella term for many things, it has become everything to everybody. When wanting to understand engagement and narrow down a holistic definition, Csikszentmihalyi (1990: 1997) offers some clarity. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) defines engagement as an individual’s ability to become so deeply involved in an activity that he or she loses track of time and place. He refers to this type of engagement as being in a zone or being in a groove which allows an individual to complete an activity with intense concentration. For example, Wilhelm (2008) tells of a student named Ron who would enter a trancelike state whenever he read a book he wanted to read. Ron reported experiencing the intense world that was in the book and that he would read “every spare moment once he had entered the story world,” (p. 73). On the other hand, the term engagement is also used to mean being interested in an activity without necessarily having deep focus or concentration

7 which allows one to lose track of time. For example, Cole (2003) states that one of her students “was able to experience interest, engagement, flow, and intrinsic motivation” (p. 333). Cole (2003) provides an example of how the term engagement has become an umbrella term that includes being interested in an activity with not necessarily being engaged to the point of losing track of time. She lists engagement and flow as separate terms whereas Csikszentmihalyi (1997) uses them synonymously to demonstrate intense concentration. Engagement has also been used to define a student’s involvement in the classroom. Lutz, Guthrie and Davis (2006) discuss engagement in the classroom as a product of students’ behavioral, cognitive, affective, and social involvement. As applied to reading, students who engage always look at an appropriate book at an appropriate time, answer questions in class, or even make interesting contributions to the class. For them, engagement mediates learning and achievement. Teachers can optimize this engagement and offer prompts to help students maintain it by giving them an appropriate space to read and providing books at appropriate levels and interest (Guthrie & Cox, 2001; Feger, 2006; Johnson & Blair, 2003; Keller, 1991; Ollman, 1993). Even though the term engagement has been referred to as messy and overused, there is some consensus that engagement (as intense concentration) is multi-dimensional. Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris (2004) and Lutz, Guthrie, and Davis (2006) state that there are three dimensions to engagement: (1) the emotional, (2) the behavioral, and (3) the cognitive. Emotional engagement, also referred to as affective engagement, involves having a positive affect toward teachers, classmates, and the school (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Connell, Spencer, & Aber, 1994; Connell & Wellborn, 1991; Locke-Davidson, 1996; Steinbuerg, Brown, & Dornbush, 1996). Second, behavioral engagement is the active participation in academic activities as seen through on-task behaviors, participation, relatedness, and autonomy (Connell, 1990; Connell, Spencer, &

8 Aber, 1994; Connell & Wellborn, 1991; Finn, 1993; Finn & Rock, 1997; Furrer & Skinner, 2003). Finally, engagement can be cognitive. Cognitive engagement encompasses effortful strategy use and deep thinking (Blumenfeld & Meece, 1988; Fredricks, Blumenfeld, Friedel, & Paris, 2002; Helme & Clarke, 2001). According to Csikszentmihalyi (1997), a paradox of intense engagement (flow or being in the zone) requires that the person must have control over the activity in order to experience flow, but should not consciously try to control the activity or his or her behavior. Csikszentmihalyi (1997) also points out that a certain amount of skill and perseverance is required in engagement (flow), but that experiencing actual flow does not involve just going with the flow. If students go with the flow versus being in the flow, they give themselves over to the classroom situation instead of being in control of the situation. If students engage in an activity, they become completely involved and lose a sense of themselves in addition to losing a sense of time and place. In order to fall into flow, a balance must exist between the challenge of an activity and the student’s capabilities to perform the activity. Flow is a personal process (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002) that represents balance. In addition, students who are truly engaged seek the flow experience for itself and not for anticipated rewards or punishments (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Of importance, a student who engages in an activity has practiced the underlying skills and knowledge so often that they become automated, thus making it easier for the student to experience flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Based on these scholars’ views, I define engagement as the personal process of becoming absorbed in an activity to the point of losing track of time. Ron, the student in Wilhelm’s (2008) study whom I previously mentioned, affords an example. Ron told Wilhelm during an interview that, “I just can’t shake a book when it’s got a hold on me. It’s hard to think of anything else” (p.

9 75). Ron would read deep into the night and through the weekend, using every spare moment to read. Ron exhibited engagement. As Ron’s example indicates, reading engagement describes deep attention to reading. That is, reading engagement is the ability to focus and concentrate in a way that allows a reader to lose track of time while reading and allows a person to feel control over what is being read (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). In order to help our K-12 students become engaged readers, we need to know what it is about reading that motivates them to engage in reading. Motivation to Engage “Motivation is a critical factor of engagement” (Johnson & Blair, 2003, p. 183). When we make the choice to invest attention in a given task, we have admitted an intention, or created a goal for ourselves (Czikszentmihalyi, 1997). Czikszentmihalyi (1997) states that how long we choose to invest our attention toward a certain goal is a function of motivation. Meltzer and Hamann (2004) state that motivation is generally seen as an antecedent to engagement. In other words, a student may be motivated, either intrinsically or extrinsically, and then be willing to engage in reading. It is the engaged reading, regardless of the root of the motivation, that leads to reading development and achievement (Guthrie & Cox, 2001; Lutz, Guthrie, & Davis, 2006; Meltzer & Hamann, 2006). A teacher may be able to manipulate the environment by supplying a quiet space and helping a student become automatic with reading strategies, but, ultimately, it is the student who must experience the personal process of engagement or flow. When a student likes what he or she is motivated to do, engagement becomes effortless even when the objectives are difficult (Czikszentmihalyi, 1997). I now further establish the notion that motivation precedes engagement, motivation is a factor of engagement, and that motivation leads to engaged reading (Czikszentmihalyi, 1997;

10 Meltzer & Hamann, 2004). By promoting this sequential link between reading motivation and engagement, I am now able to begin to pinpoint and discuss emerging patterns of reading engagement that may encourage (or dissuade) reading engagement for certain populations of students. This is particularly important if we look at the reading engagement and achievement needs of ELLs. Reading Engagement and Motivation of ELLs Klinger, Artiles, and Barletta (2006) estimate that by the year 2030 approximately 40 percent of our K-12 school population will speak English as a second language. Of this population, 56 percent will have difficulty acquiring reading literacy in English. From understanding this, we can infer that ELLs having difficulty acquiring English reading will have low reading engagement. Edwards (2007) demonstrates that ELLs who already have challenges in reading while learning English have difficulty engaging in reading where there is not a balance in challenge and capabilities of the ELL (Czikszentmihalyi, 1997). ELLs are confronted with the double duty of learning to read in English while learning complex English concepts for an extended period of time (Malloy, Gilbertson, & Maxfield, 2007; Meltzer & Hamman, 2006). It can take seven or more years to become fluent enough in a language to demonstrate near native fluency (August & Hakuta, 1997; Hakuta, 1986). Continually working on academic reading tasks is very difficult for ELLs (Cummins, 1987) and finding motivation to engage in reading may be even more difficult to drum up (Malloy, Gilbertson, & Maxfield, 2007). However, ELLs motivated to engage in reading continually increase proficiency levels (Krashen 2004; Peregoy & Boyle, 2000). This is important because extended and continued engagement in reading leads to the learning of more vocabulary (Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987), learning the nuances of the English language (Krashen, 2004), and learning generally higher levels of achievement (Allington, 2001). Therefore it is

11 crucial that we continue to uncover what it is that motivates ELLs to engage in reading (Jimenez, Smith, & Martinez-Leon, 2003). Uncovering what motivates ELLs to engage in reading can be complex due to the language barriers and the bridging of language that must happen (Alverman, 2002; Krashen, 2004). However, some researchers have started to shed some light on the issue. Ivey and Broaddus (2001) found that ELLs, like their native English speaking peers, are motivated to engage with high- interest material. However, they also found that the reading materials with which the students were willing to engage might not be readily available at the schools. In addition, many books that ELLs are encouraged to read are those used for second language instruction and are not considered high- interest because they focus more on discrete language skills (Ivey & Broaddus, 2007). So, what is to be done in order to uncover the ELLs’ patterns of motivation to engage in reading? One dilemma in the research of engagement in education is the use of a single scale or the average of several scales in an attempt to articulate engagement (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris (2004) continue that more specific methods need to be developed in order to uncover contextual features related to motivation to engage in reading. In addition, they advise that to understand what motivates a student to engage in reading, future research needs to include several features: (1) the use of more diverse participants, (2) classroom features that affect motivation to engage, (3) rich descriptions of classroom contexts, (4) qualitative approaches, and, if possible, (5) the impact of family and culture needs to be included in any discussion of motivation to engage in reading. If we can begin to understand what motivates our ELLs to engagement with reading, then we can begin to fully comprehend if the strategies and motivators for ELLs are the same or different as our U.S. mainstream students. The issue then becomes whether mainstream and

12 linguistically and culturally diverse students share the same motivators to engage in reading. Now what? Currently, research relating to ELLs’ motivation, engagement, reading, and the implications of the individual ideas as well as the combination of the ideas is scarce. Guthrie and Davis (2007) as well as other researchers (Edwards, 2007; Marks, 2000; McKool, 2007; Meltzer & Hamann, 2006; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002) demonstrate that a deficit in motivation to engage in reading leads to low reading achievement, decreased comprehension of academic materials, and the marginalization of the identified reading low-achievers. If these are indicators of what contributes to low performance of our native-speaking students, then it is imperative to explore the implications of this on our non-native English-speaking students. In order to explore the implications, we need to have a more solid base of research that demonstrates what motivates ELLs to engage in reading. Questions like these remain: What motivates an ELL to find a book that will allow him or her to lose track of time while reading? What specific motivational challenges do ELLs face that provide an imbalance in challenge and capability that prevents them from engaging in reading? Do these reasons extend beyond language acquisition issues? What can educators do to help ELLs balance the challenge and capabilities, assuming that they exist, needed to motivate and subsequently engross them in reading? These questions warrant answers in order to provide ELLs with chances to engage in reading in a manner that will promote reading achievement and the motivation that encourages a lifelong engagement with reading. Classroom educators have the power to assist ELLs in understanding what will motivate them to engage in reading (Meltzer and Hamann, 2004) which, in turn, will encourage academic achievement. Neglecting such power will leave too many ELLs sidelined and inadequately prepared to achieve in higher education. The challenge to understand what will motivate ELLs,

13 and all adolescents, is great (Wilhelm, 2008). Rising to this challenge will help our ELLs face other obstacles in their lives. And, listening to the voices of the ELLs is essential if we are going to help them understand what motivates them to engage in reading (Nieto, 1994). As a K-8 educator and an ELL resource teacher, I find it ever more critical to uncover motivation to engage as the stakes for ELLs become greater and the numbers of ELLs continue to grow. I am more than happy to continue repeat visits to the library for additional reading, but I want to expose more of the features that will lead my less motivated ELLs to become motivated to engage in reading. In an effort to uncover the voices of our ELLs, more qualitative research, which includes classroom features and contexts related to engagement, is needed.

Full document contains 85 pages
Abstract: This paper is a combination of two articles intended to lead the reader through the author's journey of first finding a definition of motivation to engage and then conducting a qualitative study with adolescent English language learners in order to uncover patterns of motivation to engage with reading. Engagement and motivation are frequently used to describe characteristics needed for success in reading (Czikszentmihaly, 1997; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999). However, it has been stated that motivation needs to precede engagement in reading (Johnson & Blair, 2003; Meltzer & Hamann, 2004). Educators want and need to understand what motivates students to engage with reading since engagement with reading and reading achievement are positively correlated (Guthrie, 2004; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999; Meltzer & Hamann, 2004). Furthermore, the motivation of our English language learners is crucial as we see their enrollments increase in US schools (Klinger, Artiles, & Barletta, 2006). This paper discusses the concepts of engagement, motivation, motivation to engage, and what we need to do next for English language learners. In the qualitative study, sixth grade English language learners' (ELLs) motivation to engage in reading was examined in order to explore the following questions: (1) What activities, people, and/or topics will motivate ELLs to engage in reading, and (2) Why is it difficult for ELLs to find motivation to engage in reading in English, especially when they are already able to read in their native language? To answer these questions, observational and interview data were collected from ELLs from November of 2008 through May of 2009. Analysis of this data revealed three main elements found to motivate ELLs to engage in reading: (1) the assigned task, (2) family and grades, and (3) the teacher and read alouds. This paper will explore the results of this research, as well as apply the findings and illuminate the implications for teaching and motivating English language learners to engage in reading.