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UBC Graduate Research

French immersion students' perceptions towards reading in French McClellan, Katherine A.


When learning a second language, the ability to read in that language is an important skill as it allows students to become aware of language structures, vocabulary, as well as to promote the culture behind the second language. Research into second language acquisition has shown that vocabulary growth does occur through reading activities. However, students in French immersion programs, learning a second language in their daily schooling, are resistant to reading in French. This study investigated the preferences of intermediate French immersion students in regards to reading in French, as well as the reasons behind their attitudes and the titles/genres of French books that they have enjoyed in the past. A questionnaire using Likert-scale and open-ended questions was developed around questions pertaining to students' perceptions towards reading in French and English, their reasons for reading in one language over the other, and their favourite genres and titles of books. Fifty-two students in grade seven early and late French immersion classrooms responded to the survey. The participants indicated that they preferred reading in English to reading in French and they read very seldomly in French at home. They found that the plots in French books were more difficult to relate to, and that when the language in a French novel was at a level they could understand, the books were often conceptually too simple for them. However, all students were able to share the genres they prefer when reading in French, with fantasy novels the most popular choice of novel, and many students listed the title of one or more French book that they remembered enjoying. Although French immersion students are resistant to reading in French, teachers may use teaching strategies and classroom programs that will promote reading in French, in order to increase student success in the French immersion program.

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