Newfoundland principals' perceptions of French second language programs within the school curriculum

Rice, Ford (1988) Newfoundland principals' perceptions of French second language programs within the school curriculum. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The present study was designed to investigate the attitudes of school principals in Newfoundland and Labrador toward French as a second language within the school curriculum. This investigation focused on second language study and its relationship to the aims of education for Newfoundland and Labrador; reasons for decline in second language study; reasons for teaching a second language in schools; and general issue statements related to second language learning. -- The questionnaire employed in this investigation was adapted from an instrument used in an Australian study by McLean and Van Der Touw (1984). The adapted questionnaire reflected the nature of the Newfoundland educational scene. -- The questionnaire was sent to 471 school principals. These principals were representative of all thirty-five school boards in Newfoundland and Labrador. Principals surveyed/represented both urban and rural areas, schools from diverse geographical regions, different religious denominations, and schools which varied in terms of student population and facilities. Of these principals, 243, or 52 percent, responded to the questionnaire. -- Responses on the various concerns were analyzed according to religious affiliation, sex, community size, and school type. -- Analysis of responses concerning the relationship between the study of French and the attainment of the general aims of education indicated that principals generally did not feel that French contributed significantly to the attainment of any of the provincial aims of education. However, principals perceived that helping students to mature mentally, appreciating other disciplines, and developing the work ethic, which deal mainly with the cognitive advantages of learning a second language, were considered to be the aims most nearly satisfied by the study of French. -- The majority of principals (76 percent) ranked the removal of French as a matriculation requirement as the most significant reason for decline in second language study at the high school level. In addition, lack of pupil interest/motivation, students' perception of irrelevance, and low achievement were ranked as some of the more important reasons for the drop in French enrollment from the elementary to the senior high school level. -- Principals viewed the main reasons for the study of French to be the development of communicative competence in French, empathy with French speaking people, and for personal satisfaction. -- Another outcome of this study was the detection of an egalitarian outlook on the part of principals with regard to the academic ability and the selection of students who should study French. According to the vast majority of principals (97 percent), all students, regardless of academic potential, should have the opportunity to study French. -- Differences were detected among principals' according to denomination, community size, sex, and school type. Principals employed with the Integrated and Roman Catholic school boards tended to view French language instruction as a cognitive discipline. Those employed with the Pentecostal Assemblies Board of Education, however, tended to perceive French as being more important in helping students appreciate their privileges and responsibilities as members of their families and the wider community in which they live. Principals in rural areas were more concerned with the learning of French for academic or cognitive reasons than with perceived increased job opportunities. However, the reverse was true of urban principals. -- Male principals perceived French to be associated mainly with the development of the work ethic. Female principals, however, felt that the development of the four language skills and the possibility of obtaining an interesting job were important reasons for French study. -- The aims of education which stressed cognitive learning were ranked highest by principals at the high school level, whereas principals at either the elementary or all grade school level indicated that an appreciation of other disciplines was the main aim of education satisfied by the study of French. In addition, only high school principals expressed skepticism concerning the issue that language learning becomes increasingly difficult after 12-14 years of age. -- There were some indication of inconsistencies among the views of principals themselves and also between the views of principals themselves and the views of others involved in French education in the Province. Principals perceived the major aims of education satisfied by the study of French were those associated mainly with cognitive concerns. In contrast, oral competency, rather than the development of the four language skills as promoted by the Department of Education, was viewed as the main reason for language study. The development of communicative competence, however, would not necessarily comprise an important part of a course that was highly cognitive in nature. In addition, principals felt that virtually all students can attain oral competency in the school system as it now exists. This is a view that would probably not be accepted by the majority of French teachers in the Province. -- The study presents recommendations to encourage communication between the various agencies responsible for French education in the Province, with a view to assisting principals to develop a consistent and realistic approach to the place of French in the curriculum.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5129
Item ID: 5129
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 108-114.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1988
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: French language--Study and teaching--Newfoundland and Labrador; School principals--Newfoundland and Labrador; Language and languages--Study and teaching--Newfoundland and Labrador

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