UBC Graduate Research

The results of focused oral language instruction on the expressive skills of grade four and five French immersion students Spence, Alexandria Emile


The Language Arts curriculum for British Columbia, which was introduced in 2006, contains a significant focus on oral language. In fact, there are more prescribed learning outcomes for oral language than for the reading and writing components. While developing oral language skills has always been very important in French immersion classroom, many researchers who study the French immersion program in British Columbia have noticed a gap exists between the expressive and receptive skills of immersion students, noting that the expressive skills of immersion students are considerably weaker in comparison. It has been suggested that explanation-based instruction could help to improve immersion students' expressive skills: in other words, teachers cannot simply expect a transfer of vocabulary when instruction is not focused on that particular aspect of language. Students need to be provided with the opportunity to understand how a language works. A teacher can provide this explanation to students, gauging the depth of these discussions vis-à-vis the student's age and ability. While a teacher remains in control of much of what students receive as input, research suggests that students require regular opportunities for output or to practise speaking French in order to improve. In addition to providing students with the tools they require to fully express themselves, students also need exposure to a different register of French besides the classroom register. In this way, they may be able to better communicate with their peers at a more natural level. This paper will examine the results of different oral language interventions that have been suggested by a variety of researchers. Throughout the study, I saw continued improvement in my students' oral language skills as well as a transfer of these skills to other subjects.

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