Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Teacher Education


This study was conducted to learn why some students avoid enrolling in foreign language classes. Prompted by a trend of decreasing enrollments in foreign language in the face of increasing need for global awareness and understanding, this study sought the opinions of students who did not included foreign language classes in their high school programs. The design of the study facilitated the investigation. It brought together randomly-selected students who were not currently enrolled in foreign language, and allowed them to brainstorm and discuss with other students in the same grade their reasons for omitting foreign language from their programs. They also considered the reasons they believed other students might have for avoiding foreign language. The list of student-generated reasons was later given to another group of randomly­ selected, non-enrolling students. The second group performed a Q-sort process to determine the rank order of importance for each of the reasons. Analysis of the Q sort rankings showed that the students are most concerned about their own enjoyment of their classes and wish to avoid classes that are too difficult or too demanding. Their expectations for success, or lack of success, turned some away. Others were highly influenced by their opinions about the particular teachers they had known as foreign language instructors. It was apparent from the rankings that many of the students lack a global perspective and do not consider foreign language relevant for them. They ranked items about usefulness of foreign language to show they believe it is of little importance. The findings in this study are consistent with other research on the status of foreign language education. It is not a high priority for the American public or for school administrators. The researcher's belief in the pressing need for increased global awareness leads her to recommend an energetic public relations campaign. Student attitudes, as a reflection of public opinion, can be changed by heightening emphasis on foreign language courses in the schools.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Teacher Education and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1992 Mary Ann Pederson.