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Setting the scene for liminality: non-francophone French second language teachers' experience of process drama

McGill University
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  • Education - Teacher Training
  • Communication
  • Linguistics


Non-francophone teachers of French as a second or additional language (FSL) often struggle with overwhelming oral anxiety, consequent low self-confidence, and workplace marginalisation. Core French or Basic French teachers, in particular, and their subjects have been undervalued (Carr, 2007; Lapkin, McFarlane, & Vandergrift, 2006; Richards, 2002). Moreover, recent national FSL research points to challenges in the areas of teacher attrition, lack of methodological and /or linguistic preparation, and lack of professional development opportunities in the FSL context (Karsenti, 2008; Salvatori, 2007). In this dissertation, I present the findings of my qualitative research study, which examined the conditions and experiences of non-francophone FSL teachers in Manitoba. To do so, I looked at the teachers' relationship with French and how French oral competency and oral language communicative confidence are intertwined to foster the teachers' sense of agency. The theoretical orientations underpinning this study draw from socio-constructivism (Bruner, 1985, 1990; Vygotsky, 1978), Feminist Standpoint theory (De Vault, 1999; Lather, 1991), Bakhtinian dialogism (Vitanova, 2005), and Institutional Ethnography (Smith, 1987, 2005). The lens I used to understand and interpret the voices and self-perceptions of the teachers is Process Drama, delivered in the form of professional development workshops. Process Drama (Heathcote, 1991) consists of thematically based improvisations, which are used to explore a topic and, at the same time, to invite self-exploration. It possesses unique characteristics, and has been successfully used in the second and foreign language classroom (Dicks & Le Blanc, 2009; Kao & O'Neill, 1998; Liu, 2002; Marshke, 2005). My particular focus, however, was on the Manitoba FSL teacher as a student, rather than as a teacher of language. Findings from this study indicate reduced oral anxiety as related to French language competency, reduced “performance

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