Perceptions and Attitudes of a Group of Grade 4 Students From an Anglophone Community While Communicating With Their Peers From a Francophone Community

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de Lira e Silva, Taciana
Attitude Toward Learning French , Culture in Language Education , Culture Exchange , Language Learning , Core French , The Savoirs , Acceptance of Otherness , French as a Second Language , Cultural Diversity , Second Language Learning , ICC Model , Elementary Students , Grade 4 French , FSL Curriculum , Intercultural Education , Perception of French Community
This qualitative study was guided by the framework of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC). In Canada, although researchers recognize that learning French through a cultural context will promote understanding and acceptance of cultural diversity, as well as the learning of the target language, there is little evidence to support the ways in which this methodology may influence the learning of elementary Core French students. The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways in which a group of Grade 4 students, from an English community, perceived their peers from a French community, and to describe any changes in their attitudes toward learning French as a Second Language in response to the opportunity to learn through a cultural context. This action research study used a questionnaire, an observation checklist of task-related behaviour, and semi-structured group photo-interviews to explore 15 Grade 4 students’ perceptions and attitudes in response to a new research-based teaching approach. As the cultural exchange unfolded, I sought evidence of the three savoirs (that according to the ICC model, primary students have the ability to develop), in order to promote interculturality: savoir être (related to students’ attitudes towards the other students), savoirs (related to knowledge of the other culture), and savoir apprendre/faire (related to behaviour toward the other culture). Results indicated that students showed evidence of two savoirs: savoir être and savoirs. Savoir apprendre/faire, however, was not shown. In addition to the two savoirs, the exchange promoted the learning of French in the classroom, and supported the development of students’ confidence in communicating in French. The findings of this study contribute to the teaching of Elementary Core French in Ontario, by providing valuable insights into the possible ways that learning French through an intercultural experience holds potential in developing students’ communication abilities as well as awareness and acceptance of otherness, which is the bedrock upon one can develop effective communicators in the target language.
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