Doctor of Philosophy
While employing a critical narrative, multimodal approach this dissertation examines the identity construction and negotiation experiences of a diverse group of multilingual former FSL students. Particular attention is paid to how these students draw on, engage with, or resist dominant narratives of language, identity, and belonging in Canada while sharing stories about their experiences in Canadian FSL education. Major discoveries made include the participants viewing membership as a French and English speaker through a restrictive, narrow lens; associating knowledge of English and French with it means to be an academically, economically and social successful Canadian; and linking investment in English and French with what it means to be a Canadian. The internalization of such narratives by the participants resulted in: 1.) seeing themselves as multilingual speakers of English and French through a deficit narrative lens; 2.) heightened feelings of linguistic insecurity from pressure to live up to native speaker ideals of what it means to be a French speaker or officially bilingual Canadian; and 3.) development of feelings of in-betweenness when constructing/negotiating an identity for themselves across multiple social worlds. In some cases, within their narrative accounts, the participants chose to resist the dominance of such narratives to create space for the expression of their multilayered identities and rich linguistic and cultural knowledge. Points of resistance included challenging the deficit narrative lens through which their identities as multilinguals were viewed within the contexts of Canadian FSL education and official bilingualism; creating their own definitions of what it means to be a successful Canadian; and challenging the rigid binary image of Canadian identity. Inspired by the participant’s personal accounts, the study puts forth a reflexive framework which incorporates three layers of storied seeing. The significant contribution of this framework to the fields of language and literacy studies is that it not only provides FSL practitioners, administrators, policymakers, and students with practical tools to reflect on their beliefs and ways of seeing language, identity, and belonging in Canada, but it does so in a collaborative manner inspired by the real-life experiences of multilingual students.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study examined the identity experiences of a linguistically and culturally diverse group of multilingual former FSL students. The focus of the investigation was to explore what a critical analysis of their personal stories may reveal about how they talk about, engage with, or resist dominant stories concerning language, identity, and belonging in Canada while sharing aspects of their experiences as multilingual FSL students. Similarly, the goal of the study was to examine what the critical analysis of their personal stories may reveal for making Canadian FSL education more inclusive of and responsive to the unique language and identity needs of multilingual FSL students. The findings suggest that in general these students saw what it means to be a French and English speaker from a narrow perspective and associated both official languages with what it means to be an economically, academically and socially successful Canadian. Additionally, these students also associated English and French with what it means to be a Canadian. While incorporating these stories into how they saw themselves as French/English speakers; officially bilingual Canadians; and multilingual Canadians, the participants tended to: 1.) struggle to see themselves as English and French speakers; 2.) feared that they would not live up to society’s expectations of what it means to be an English or French speaker; and 3.) felt that their identities as multilinguals were somewhere in-between their multiple social worlds. Although many participants adhered to the dominant stories of language, identity, and belonging in Canada, some chose to challenge these stories. Specific challenges included creating their own definition of what it means to be a successful Canadian and offering alternative perspectives to the narrow view of Canadian identity. The contribution of the research is the critical, reflexive framework it puts forth which includes a three-tiered model of storied seeing. The significance of the framework is that it provides those on the frontlines of Canadian FSL education with the tools they need to reflect on their beliefs and ways of seeing language, identity, and belonging in Canada.
MacCormac, Katherine, "Being and becoming multilingual within Canadian FSL education" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9727.
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