Donc And Alors In Four Franco Ontarian Communities Education Essay

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This study focuses on the teacher and student variant use of donc and alors in four Franco-Ontarian communities: Hawkesbury, Cornwall, North Bay and Pembroke. The communities are listed in order of most fluency in French. The data was from the 2005 corpus, collected by Mougeon, Nadasdi and Rehner, and focused on grade 9 and 12 students. The study will focus primarily on the results that suggest the teachers' use of the variants donc or alors influences the students' use of the variants. Throughout this paper, L1 will represent (first language), L2 (second language), and FI (French Immersion). The student data was coded into five categories: grade (9: nine, 12: twelve), socio-economic status (l: moyenne, w: ouvrière, m: semi-professionelle), sex (f, m), French restriction (r: restreint, s: semi-restreint, u: non restreint), and lastly, discourse type (f: formal, i: informal). The teacher data was coded into six categories: age group (jeune: 20-29, moyen: 30-49, vieux: 50+), sex (f, m), nationality (o: Franco-Ontarian, q: Québécois, a:Autres), teaching subjects (f: French, o: Other), maternal language (f-little knowledge of French, F: fluency in French, a-Anglophone) and lastly discourse type (K: l'enseignant donne son cours, I: l'enseignant donne des instructions, informations, précisions à la classe, E: l'enseignant s'adresse à un élève ou un groupe restreint d'élève). The sixteen examples listed below are taken for the student and teacher corpora of the four communities and illustrate the usage of donc and alors as an expression of consequence between two sentences:

Hawkesbury (Les Enseignants) Les produits s'accumulent [donc] faudrait euh donner une liposuccion au poisson. L'atome pèse X [alors] i' savent que euh l' l'unité de masse est cinquante-six.

Hawkesbury (Les Étudiants) « Elle a trois mois de convalescence [donc] j'ai eu beaucoup d'ouvrage » (Mougeon, Nadasdi, Rehner, 2008, p.146). « Je veux prendre un cours d'allemand [alors] j'aurai un horaire bien rempli » (Mougeon, Nadasdi, Rehner, 2008, p.146).

Cornwall (Les Enseignants) T'aurais un volcan qui fait éruption [donc] le ciel serait obscurci. On prenait le bras d'un détenu pis on le glissait ent' les deux roues pis là on partait la machine [alors] l'individu se faisait écraser le bras.

Cornwall (Les Étudiants) I' me payent mon billet [donc] j'aurai pas besoin de payer c't' année. C'est graduel [alors] j'ai pas vraiment remarqué.

North Bay (Les Enseignants) Je valorise ma santé [donc] je prends mes médicaments. Moi j'en sens pas [alors] tu peux dire c'est inodore.

North Bay (Les Étudiants) Je regarde pas beaucoup de télévision [donc] je regarde pas vraiment le français sur la télé. I' étaient pas très bons [alors]on a déménagé.

Pembroke (Les Enseignants) George avait des filles dont Élizabeth qui était la plus vieille [donc] quand George est mort c'est Élizabeth qui a hérité du trône. On voulait le dérivée de H de X [alors] i' faut que j'isole H prime de X.

Pembroke (Les Étudiants) « Au soccer je jouais compétitivement [donc] j'étais à beaucoup de voyages » (Mougeon, Nadasdi, Rehner, 2008, p.146). « Je vas chez mes amis et on a un bateau [alors] on l'utilise beaucoup oui » (Mougeon, Nadasdi, Rehner, 2008, p.146).

Recherches Antérieures The Correlation between Teachers' and Students' use of the Variants in the Classroom ***The first and last study in this section involved the four variants: donc, alors, ça fait que, and so. But for the purpose of this study, I will only be referencing the donc and alors data contained in the research. The findings of Rehner and Mougeon (2003) compared grade 9 and 12 FI students in the Extended French programs use of donc and alors in the greater Toronto area, with the in-class speech of a different sample of FI teachers in the greater Toronto and Ottawa area. The study suggests that the students are exposed to French almost exclusively within the classroom. It proposes that to assess the impact of the variants in the classroom and the development of the students' sociolinguistic competence, they must examine the FI teachers' use of the variants. The study finds that "…in the classroom speech of the French immersion teachers, vernacular variants are almost nonexistent and that the formal, standard variants greatly outweigh the informal ones" (p.267). Similarly, "…the French immersion teachers use predominantly two variants, namely alors and donc, with the former being significantly more frequent (78% versus 20%)" (p.268). The French immersion students similarly use alors (78%) and donc (15%). The study concludes that the FI students' use of variants is linked with that of the FI teachers. On the same token, Rehner, Mougeon and Nadasdi's (2003) study reemphasizes the teacher influence on the FI student's use of variants. Their evidence on the informal variant on exemplifies that even though it is informal; it was used by the teachers and frequently used by the students. This reiterates the assumption that "...these students are exposed to high levels of teacher input," which as a result, influences their use of specific variants (p. 149). Rehner and Beaulieu's (2008) findings compared the patterns of L2 French University students in a bilingual Ontario University, who graduated from a core or FI program in high school. The study focuses on the students' use of donc and alors, compared to the patterns of use by their previous core or FI teachers. This study "…found that the immersion students' use closely matched that of immersion teachers" (p.14). The study suggests that the students rely strongly on their educational input for their exposure to French. The article suggests that "…additional French language activities are… not enough to alter the pattern of preferential use of such variants established in earlier stages of FSL learning" (p.17). Similar to the study above, it concludes that teachers should be aware of the repetitive usage of specific variants such as donc and alors in their classroom.   The Academic/ Non-Academic language used in the Classroom Tarone and Swain's (1995) research takes a different approach on the topic of sociolinguistic perspective of L2 use in the immersion classroom. The study questions the FI teachers' use of formal variants in the classroom as the potential reason for why FI students do not use the L2 language, but their L1 when conversing with their friends in the immersion environment. "The L2 is reserved for conversation[s]... on all academic topics in 'institutional' domains. Attempts to expose... [FI] students to input from sources... [outside the domain] do not provide input in the vernacular L2 style that is used by native-speaking peers for non-academic purposes" (p. 169). The study suggests that the L1 community demands the L2 speaker to be able to communicate in the formal or informal style when necessary. The study raises an interesting point, which claims that "preadolescents and adolescents need a vernacular style as a way of signalling their identities" (p.169). Thus the FI students choose to converse among one another in their L1 vernacular language because they have not been taught the L2 vernacular language. Pedagogical Approaches to improve the Sociolinguistic Competence of L2 French learners Lyster's study (1994) investigates the forms of instruction in L2 classrooms. "...The linguistic performance of ...[the] students...[appears] to be...non-native-like, in spite of extensive comprehensible input, particularly with respect to grammatical and sociolinguistic competencies..." (p.264). The study focuses on language instruction in the immersion classroom and how the use can improve the L2 learner's proficiency in French. Lyster's study reemphasizes that analytic language teaching should not only involve aspects of grammar, but should also incorporate language functions and sociolinguistic features. This study indicates "...that immersion students generally learn one classroom register and have difficult in varying their use of French in accordance with social context" (p.266). Lyster's findings suggest that pedagogical approaches can be improved through "...activities which first promote the perception of language functions and their appropriate forms in various contexts, followed by their use in written and oral production activities including student interaction and role plays" (p.280). The instruction provided by teachers may allow students to learn socially appropriate forms of speech in a non L1 environment. Nadasdi, Mougeon and Rehner's (2005) research also considers ways of improving FI students' control of sociolinguistic features by comparing their formal versus informal variant use with that of L1 speakers. The absence of informal variants suggests that the FI students have not been exposed to these variants within the classroom. Furthermore the FI students in the study had not been exposed to L1 speakers throughout participation in extra-curricular activities. The research proposes that the frequent informal variants used by L1 speakers "...need[s] to be explicitly targeted in the immersion setting to bring about a marked increase in the students' ability to produce these variants" (p.8). The researchers conclude that teachers are important in the FI students' variant use. An example in the study finds that "...teaching materials currently available for use in French immersion programs, ...[incorporate a] variety of written dialogues meant to represent spoken discourse [which] are almost all quite remote from actual terms of...variants employed" (p.10). The study suggests that pedagogical approaches should be modified to increase FI students' input of informal variants by modifying the input in the classroom, providing activities that encourage native norms and encouraging FI student contact with L1 speakers outside of school. Méthodologie The tape recorded student interviews and teacher in class recordings were from the four Franco-Ontarian communities. The students who participated in the corpus had to be at least 12 years of age and had to have at least one parent whose maternal language was French. For this specific study, the student data from Hawkesbury and Pembroke was taken from the previous article by the authors in the introduction (2008). The student and teacher data from each community was transcribed individually and tokens of the variants, donc, alors, ça fait que, and so were identified using the program MonoConc Pro. Professor Rehner's FRE374 class selected the tokens. Once the tokens were identified, Goldvarb X ran a multivariate analysis to obtain frequency counts and factor weightings that identified factors that were significantly correlated with the students and teachers variant choice in each specific community. The Goldvarb X application value was selected as donc. For the purpose of this study, the data excluded ça fait que, and so. The student data's discourse type category was recoded to formal versus informal and the teacher data recoded the teaching subjects to strictly French as the subject matter in the classroom and French used as the language to teach other subjects. The teacher data also excluded its discourse type 'A,' l'enseignant s'adresse à un enseignant/member du personnel de l'école, because it did not provide enough data to substantiate results. To ensure that the data for each community did not include knockouts, the following factors were excluded in the GoldVarb results: the Cornwall, North Bay and Hawkesbury teacher results excluded English under the maternal language category, North Bay and Hawkesbury student results also excluded unrestricted under the restriction category whereas the Pembroke student data excluded the entire restriction category. Lastly, Hawkesbury and Pembroke student results excluded the grade category. Hypothèses Hypothesis #1: Based on the previous research done on L2 students with that of their French teachers, my first expectation for the study is that Pembroke and North Bay's L1 students will be influenced by their educational input in the classroom. This is likely in Pembroke because "...en 2005, la generation adolescente francophone inclut Presque uniquement des locuteurs restreints," (Mougeon, Nadasdi & Rehner, 2008, p.146). This is likely for North Bay because the data did not include an unrestricted section in the restriction category. This explanation is linked to Rehner, Mougeon and Nadasdi's (2003) research of nous/on, that suggests "...that the more specific and restricted the reference, the more likely speakers would be to use nous and, conversely, the less specific and restricted the reference, the more likely speakers would be to use on" (p.141). It is likely that donc will follow the same pattern as nous because they are more formal forms of speech compared to alors and on. The educational input is linked to Lyster's (1994) L2 research focused on analytic teaching. Teacher 1 in his experiment succeeded in asking "...questions which built on students' previous responses, thereby pushing students to explain and further develop their knowledge of sociolinguistic features" (p.279). Hypothesis #2: Contrary to the L2 previous research, my second expectation for the study is that the Hawkesbury and Cornwall L1 students will not use the hyper-variant donc more than alors. Previous research suggests that hyper-formal variants are usually rarely used in the speech of L1 students. This is likely in Hawkesbury because "...en 2005, si les usagers non restraint du français étaient toujours majoritaires, il y avait aussi un nombre non négligeable d'adolescents qui utilisaient régulièrement l'anglais (usagers semi-restreints)" (Mougeon, Nadasdi & Rehner, 2008, p.146). This is likely in Cornwall because it has the second highest unrestricted community. Nadasdi, Mougeon and Rehner's (2005) results show "...that immersion students overuse [hyper-formal] variants in comparison to L1 speakers of Canadian French," such as the Hawkesbury and Cornwall students (p.8). In contrast with L1 students, Tarone and Swain explain "in sociolinguistic terms, [that students are] given input in the L2 for adult purposes but...not given the vernacular L2... needed for adolescent purposes" (p.172). In regards to L1 research, "[Dessureault-Dober] ... used a sub-sample of a corpus of Montreal spoken French and found that ...during a semi-formal interview, alors [was used] 43% and donc only 2%" (Rehner & Beaulieu, 2008, p.13). On the same token, Rehner and Mougeon's research (2003) found that "...students who have had over three days of stay with a Francophone family... [become] unfavourable to [the use] of donc" (p.274). Thus, this further strengthens my hypothesis that L1 students will not use the hyper-formal variant donc more than they use alors because they tend to use the vernacular speech of their maternal language. Hypothesis #3: In light of previous L2 research, my third expectation for the study is that male, middle class students, as well as male teachers in all four communities will use the hyper-formal variant donc more than the female students and teachers. Rehner and Mougeon`s L2 research (2003) suggests that "…there is an inconsistent pattern of sex and social class factor effects, where donc is favoured by the students of middle class background (factor effect of 0.64), but disfavoured by the female students (factor effect of 0.64)" (p.272). Rehner and Beaulieu's L2 findings (2008) continue to prove that " is the males who prefer donc and the females who favour alors" (p.17). Résultats: (The results from each community can be seen in the Appendix.) Hypothesis #1: Table #1 displays the teacher/ student results for Pembroke. It is important to note that this data did not contain a restriction category. "...En 2005 il n'y a plus que des locuteurs restreints à Pembroke" (Mougeon, Nadasdi, Rehner, 2008, pg.171). In the results, I assumed the students would only practice French within the classroom, but the results show that their use of the two variants is not fully influenced by their educational input. The results indicate that: the younger teachers (donc 90%, alors 4%), middle aged teachers (donc 54%, alors 46%), and older teachers (donc 14%, alors 86%). The younger and the older teachers use one variant repeatedly, whereas the middle aged teachers use both variants almost equally. In the subject category donc is used more in the French classrooms (59% versus 42%) and other classes (51% versus 40%). In the maternal language category, the teachers with little knowledge of French and the Anglophones use the variant alors 52% and 91%. The fluent French teachers use donc (65%). The Anglophone teachers likely learned French through an immersion program. In contrast to the findings in the literature review, the immersion students tend to use the hyper-formal variant donc more often. Also in the immersion textbooks, "...only alors and donc were used and ...donc showed a clear association with informal dialogues rather than more formal written texts, despite its status as a hyper-formal variant in L1 speech" (Rehner & Beaulieu, 2008, p.14). During a lesson they used donc (54% versus 46%), during instructions alors (51% versus 49%) and speaking to students alors (57% versus 43%). In terms of nationality, Québécois teachers used donc (61%), compared to Franco-Ontarian teachers who used alors (56%). The Québécois teachers' high percentage contrasts the results by Dessureault-Dober, where "... [donc] was used by only five [out of 26] speakers, all members of the upper social strata" (Rehner & Mougeon, 2003, p. 265). The Pembroke student data did not correlate with the mixed variant results in the teacher data. The students used donc in informal (25%) and formal (38%) types of discourse. The results in the student data refute my hypothesis, which states that "...when immersion teachers tend to overuse certain formal or hyper-formal variants, immersion students do likewise" (Nadasdi, Mougeon & Rehner, 2005, p.9). Table #2 displays the teacher/student results for North Bay. These results refute my hypothesis because there is no correlation. The restriction and discourse type category in the student data favoured alors, whereas the subject, maternal language and discourse type category in the teacher data favoured donc. Restricted students used alors (65%) and semi-restricted students used alors (55%). In contrast to the Pembroke students, the North Bay students used alors in informal (74%) and formal (60%) contexts. The French subject teachers used donc (86%), while the teachers of other subjects used donc and alors equally (50%). The teachers with little knowledge of French used donc (51%) and the fluent teachers used it (68%). In the discourse type category, teachers used donc during a lesson (59%), instructions (63%) and speaking to students (64%). These finding do not relate back to previous L2 research. Rehner and Beaulieu's (2008) study suggests "... [students] appear to be influenced by the nature and frequency of their input" (p.18). Also the L2 study conducted by Rehner and Mougeon (2003) suggests "...that there is often a striking degree of convergence between the patterns of sociolinguistic variation found in the speech of ...teachers and...FI students..." (p.265). Hypothesis #2: Table #3 displays the teacher/ student results for Hawkesbury. The findings in the table refute my second hypothesis because the variant alors "...est devenu totalement absente en 2005" (Mougeon, Nadasdi & Rehner, 2008, p.165). Mougeon, Nadasdi and Rehner (2008) state that "on aurait pu donc s'attendre à ce que la probabilité d'occurrence de alors soit plus forte dans le corpus de 2005, or c'est le résultat inverse que nous constatons" (p.166). Thus the hyper-formal variant donc is used more often among the students. This is interesting considering that Hawkesbury does not have a restricted section in the restriction category, which leads me to believe that this community is more likely to use the vernacular speech compared to the other three communities. However, the donc percentages are tremendously low compared to the other communities. The semi-restricted students use donc 10% and the unrestricted students use donc 7%. Nonetheless, from these results, it is likely that these students use vernacular variants such as ça fait que or so. These findings relate to Rehner and Mougeon's L2 findings which suggest that donc " quite marginal even in the taped speech of native speakers of Quebec French" (p.277). The authors also relate to the Hawkesbury findings because they state "...that the Franco-Ontarian students who are at the forefront of this [so] trend are those who are the most balanced bilinguals (i.e., speakers who feel equally at ease in both French and English)..." (p.279). The Hawkesbury students are the most likely students in this study that are 'balanced bilinguals' compared to the students within the other three communities. Table #4 displays the teacher/ student results for Cornwall. The findings in the table confirm my second hypothesis. The grade 9 students use alors 76%, while the grade 12 students use donc and alors almost equally (54% versus 46%). The unrestricted and semi-restricted students use alors 60% and 62%. The restricted students use donc 55%. This correlates with the teacher results that indicate that donc is used more often to teach a lesson, give instructions and speak to the students. The teachers even use donc more often in the French classroom and in the other subject classes. This proves that the restricted students use donc more compared to the other social classes because the classroom is their only French input. These findings relate to the L2 article by Rehner and Mougeon, (2003) that claims that "...the FI students' educational input, from... the FI teachers fails to provide the students with opportunities to become familiar with the most frequent variant[s] in the speech of native speakers of Quebec French..." (p.276). Hypothesis #3: Cornwall confirmed my third hypothesis; both male students of the middle class and teachers use the hyper-formal variant donc more than female students and teachers. The male students use the variant 65% and the middle class use donc 73%, while the female students use the variant 26%. The male teachers use the variant 89%, while the female teachers use it 42%. Hawkesbury and Pembroke only confirmed half my hypothesis. The Hawkesbury male teachers (76%) use donc more often, but the female students (10%) and the moyenne classe sociale (13%) also did. The Pembroke male students (43%) use donc more often, but the female teachers (53%) and the ouvrière classe sociale (59%) did as well. North Bay completely refuted my third hypothesis. Both the female students (51%) and teachers (78%) use donc more often than the male students and teachers, but the ouvrière social class use donc the most. These findings in terms of social class do not relate back to specific research. For example, two studies of Rehner, Mougeon and Nadasdi (2003) "...have shown that middle-class learners use formal or standard variants more frequently than do upper-working-class learners" (p.133). On the other hand, the North Bay results relate to Rehner and Mougeon's study (2003) "...whereby the female and/or middle class FI students show a preference for the formal, standard variants" (p.266). Discussion The primary goal of this study was to see if the teachers' use of the variants donc and alors affected the usage of L1 students. The results have shown that contrary to L2 previous research, L1 students are not influenced by these two variants often used by their teachers. The surprising results came from the teacher data in Pembroke, such as the Québécois teachers' repetitive use of donc or the Anglophone teachers' usage of alors. Furthermore, in this study I found that sex and social class do not influence the type of variant a L1 person uses. The study explores the implications of education because it reemphasizes the importance of previous L2 research that suggests L2 students are not practicing the variants that are common among L1 students. Thus these L2 students are not meeting the requirements set forth by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Rehner and Mougeon (2003) explain that " the final two years of FI programs...[the] students should have the following productive abilities: incorporate colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions into their speech; debate formal and informal issues ...from their reading of; and express clearly...their personal point of view..." (p.261). As Tarone and Swain (1995) suggest, "...immersion students are increasingly reluctant to use the L2 with each other as they move into the upper grade levels and that they do so because they do not have an appropriate L2 vernacular to use for peer-peer conversation" (p.174). Similar to the L2 previous research in the Recherches Antérieures, this study reinforces that the Franco-Ontarian vernacular needs to be emphasized in the Ontario immersion classrooms, so that the L2 students are able to communicate using the variants commonly used by L1 speakers. It is imperative that immersion teachers become aware of the hyper-formal variants they repeatedly use within the classroom, so that they can begin to incorporate vernacular forms into their lesson plans to ensure that L2 students are meeting the expectations of the Ontario Ministry of Education.


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