Early French immersion : a portrait of a primary program

Walsh, Adele (1997) Early French immersion : a portrait of a primary program. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

This study focuses on how children make sense of language and learning experiences in an early French immersion setting. The purpose of the study was to explore the question of whether or not instruction of all subjects in French is conducive to promoting in-depth understanding of concepts, considering that children's knowledge of French is very limited, particularly at the earliest stages of early French immersion. The work of developmental psychologists has contributed a great deal to our understanding of how exploratory talk and guided discussion can enhance a child's knowledge and grasp of concepts. In an early French immersion environment, it is understood that second-language proficiency levels usually do not match background knowledge, nor are they compatible with all subject areas which make up the prescribed curriculum content at each level. The thesis questions are examined with this in mind; is it possible to engage in dialogue and discussion with early French immersion students, as a means of promoting concept development, when the language of discussion and instruction is one in which the students have not yet become proficient? -- In order to examine this question, I offer a portrait of a primary program, drawn from classroom observations, and interviews with students and teachers at one primary school. Background for this portrait is completed by my own personal knowledge and experience gained from thirteen years as a French immersion teacher. Qualitative research methods have been used to design the study; presentation and analysis of the data follow the guidelines for such research. -- Results of the study confirm that some students and teachers feel that a lack of proficiency in the second language limits comprehension of spoken messages and written texts. This in turn, affects the selection and manner in which teaching resources may be exploited in the early French immersion classroom. This is particularly evident in those areas where discussion and dialogue are necessary for further development of concept comprehension or extended learning, because of the abstract nature of the concepts, or because of children's lack of background knowledge and/or comprehension of vocabulary and grammatical structures in French. A number of specific examples are provided by students and teachers, and are supported by my own experience of thirteen years teaching in early French immersion classrooms.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5027
Item ID: 5027
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 168-174.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1997
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: French language--Study and teaching--Immersion method; French language--Study and teaching (Primary)

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