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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teachers’ beliefs about students with learning disabilities in French Immersion : a phenomenological study Pawer, Sasha


French Immersion (FI) is a popular program designed for students to acquire proficiency in French. The FI model has been praised as a successful approach to additional language learning and criticized for perpetuating inequities. Evidence suggests that students with learning disabilities (LDs) can succeed in FI with proper support, yet they are often excluded from the program. To date, there is limited research on FI classroom teachers’ beliefs about the inclusion of students with LDs and the accessibility of FI programs for them. In this study, a hermeneutic phenomenological approach was implemented to explore teachers’ beliefs about the inclusion of students with LDs in FI. Six FI public elementary school teachers from a school district in British Columbia, Canada, were interviewed in a three-part series. During the interviews, the six teachers shared and reflected upon their beliefs, experiences, and perspectives about teaching students with LDs in FI. In analyzing the interviews, teachers identified barriers within FI that made the program inaccessible for students with LDs. Findings also surfaced specific personal factors (e.g., knowledge and teaching self-efficacy), student factors (e.g., motivation), and contextual factors (e.g., administration and district support) that impacted and influenced participants’ beliefs about the inclusion of students with LDs in FI. The teachers also offered suggestions and insights to make the program more inclusive. This study offers methodological implications for advancing future research in LDs in FI. It also suggests practical considerations for education stakeholders such as administrators, school boards, Ministries of Education, and teacher education programs to rethink the FI program through a more inclusive and accessible framework.

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