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Holding the tension in the sphere of the between: french immersion graduates in a francophone post-secondary institution (Alberta)

Written by Louis-Patrick St-Pierre :: [Friday, 23 June 2006 15:51] Last updated by Kaitie Babin :: [Tuesday, 18 August 2020 17:06]
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Year: 2006 Authors and Collaborators Skogen, Rochelle; Theme Alberta
Language Training
School Setting
City: , Edmonton Publishing Company: , University of Alberta Abstract Non-publié.

This research is a qualitative interpretive case study that explored the experiences of French immersion graduates who were studying in the department of education at the Campus Saint-Jean, a Francophone post-secondary institution at the University of Alberta. An important goal of the study was to understand why Anglophone students, who had spent 13 years in French immersion programs, often chose to communicate in English rather than in French when at the CSJ, an institution where there is an expectation that all students will speak in French. Using a hermeneutic approach, data were gathered through participant interviews, document analysis, field notes and participant journals. Grounded in Buber's (1966) philosophical anthropology, Friedman's (1983) concepts of communities of 'affinity' and of 'otherness', as well as Lugones (2003) four criteria of at-easeness, the study sought to understand how the transition from one type of community (French immersion) to another (CSJ), might impact upon students' choice to use their mother tongue and not their second language at CSJ. The findings of the study took the form of a theoretical model, illustrating how both the French immersion context and the Campus Saint-Jean could be understood as 'communities based in like-mindedness and affinity' rather than in 'otherness'. It was shown that two different communities of 'affinity' do not co-exist easily in the same institution, and that dissonances between these communities have an impact upon participants' feelings of at-easeness in the French language. Lastly, as an interpretive scholar, I confronted the pre-conceptions I had about French immersion graduates attending the CSJ. Through traveling the loops of a hermeneutic spiral, I was able to transform many of my pre-conceptions, and gain insight into what makes the French immersion students unique. As a result, I recommend that staff and students at CSJ make an effort to engage what Buber called, 'the sphere of the between', which ultimately might lead to a CSJ community based in 'otherness' rather than in 'affinity'.