Utilizing the framework of the L2 motivational self-system as its theoretical foundation, this study focuses on a total of 52 students who discontinue their English learning within a senior high school in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. The primary objective of this study is to discern the underlying motivations prompting students to discontinue their English learning through a methodological approach encompassing video-mediated interviews with the students, subsequently subject to meticulous qualitative scrutiny through the Nvivo software. The analysis focuses on the systematic decoding and recoding of the interview transcripts to discern thematic patterns, hereby unraveling the motivations contributing to students’ cessation of English learning. The results indicate a spectrum of negative factors contributing to this phenomenon, including an aversion to the extant English learning milieu and the pressure of English learning, waning interest, diminished academic attainment, cultural disparities vis-à-vis English-speaking regions, and eroded self-efficacy in mastering the language. Moreover, this study elucidates various factors that collectively contribute to a lack of motivation among students, including the large class sizes, a paucity of English application contexts, the absence of phonetic pedagogy culminating in compromised autonomous learning ability, test-oriented teaching methods, ineffective English core subject literacy, and an overall substandard learning milieu.