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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From home to school : bridging the literacy gap in L1 Wolof child learners of L2 French in Senegal Fall, Moustapha


The relationship between first language (L1) literacy and second language (L2) learning has increasingly become an object of considerable study in the field of Second Language Acquisition. While numerous studies have been conducted on this issue in situations in which the first and second languages of literacy are related (Spanish and English: Cummins, 2000; Gonzalez, 1979; French and English Cziko, 1978), little research is currently available on how school children who are partially literate in their mother tongue learn an L2 successfully (Wagner, 1998). This research investigates the L2 French phonological awareness, decoding and comprehension skills of two groups of sixty L1 Wolof child learners of L2 French in Senegal. Prior to learning French, one group developed early literacy skills in Arabic (the Qur’anic group), and the other group developed no literacy skills in Wolof or Arabic (the Non-Qur’anic group).Combining both quantitative and qualitative methods, the data were collected through an odd-word-out instrument, a picture-word-identification and association instrument,a reading comprehension instrument, and a questionnaire, as well as through semi-structured interviews. This research showed that the absence of literacy skills in either the mother tongue (Wolof) or Arabic affects learning in L2 French. That is,the Qur’anic group out performed the Non-Qur’anic group in L2 French decoding skills and reading comprehension, except in the area of L2 phonological awareness where both groups performed at an equal level. The results also identified a strong correlation between early literacy skills developed at home or in Qur’anic schooland later success in decoding and reading a French text at school.

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