Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Education

Program

Education

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Julie Byrd Clark

Abstract

This research set out to investigate the following questions: Why do students enroll in French, and in what ways do the students position themselves to learning French? What kinds of social issues do they confront when coming back? How do such issues impact their identities? Using the frameworks developed within sociocultural second language acquisition, identity, and motivational theories, this exploratory study includes semi-structured interviews and an online survey. Some of the reasons why students come back to the college system to study French include family background, political decisions, patriotism, gainful employment, cosmopolitanism, globalization and travel and retirement. Studying languages seems to be a highly personal decision and identities are impacted in many ways including the use of power, prestige, economic gain and divergent thinking. However, a key conclusion drawn from this study is that learning French opens doors for communicative purposes and being able to speak another language expands one’s mind, according to the participants in the interviews. Additionally, knowing French in the Southwestern Ontario workplace enhances one’s ability to attain gainful employment within the public sector specifically, and within entry-level positions within the private sector generally.


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