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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Success in early and late French immersion : a study on language aptitude and motivation Kwan, Katrina


French immersion programs have continued to increase in popularity in British Columbia over the past ten years. The expected French language outcomes are the same for both Early French immersion (EFI) and Late French immersion (LFI) programs, yet it is commonly believed that an early start to language learning will lead to a greater level of second language proficiency. Research in the context of French immersion programs has not always supported this view. A variety of factors have the potential to influence second language learning and outcomes; however, foreign language aptitude and motivation have been found to be the most consistent predictors of second language success. This study investigated the relationship between the components of language aptitude and motivation, and second language outcomes of grade 11 students from EFI versus LFI programs in Western Canada. Results showed that overall the two groups had similar levels of language aptitude; however, the LFI students demonstrated stronger language analysis abilities. Similarly, the groups did not differ in their attitudes toward or motivation for learning French. Language aptitude was shown to be related to French vocabulary knowledge and listening comprehension skills for both EFI and LFI students, while motivation was associated with pronunciation (i.e., French accent) more for LFI than EFI students. Findings suggest that language aptitude relates to French language outcomes regardless of age of onset and is perhaps a better predictor of foreign language outcomes than age or amount of time spent learning a language.

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