Learning More about our Learners: Comparing the Orientations and Attributes of Allophone and English Speaking Grade 6 FSL Learners

  • Callie Mady Nipissing University
  • Katy Arnett St. Mary's College of Maryland
  • Stephanie Arnott University of Ottawa


This article compares the motivational orientations and attributes of three different groups of Grade 6 students of French as a second official language (FSOL): Canadian-born English-speaking learners, Canadian-born bilingual learners, and immigrant multilingual allophones. This mixed-methods study used quantitative questionnaire data and qualitative interview data to determine potential differences in the three populations’ willingness to communicate (MacIntyre, Dörnyei, Clément, and Noels, 1998) and other dimensions of integrative motivation. Quantitative findings reveal stronger motivations for immigrant multilingual learners than the other two groups on most measures, but qualitative findings reveal some contradictions to those results. The study offers insight into the ways different groups of learners are differently motivated to pursue FSOL study in Canada.

Keywords: second language learning motivation; French as a second language education; willingness to communicate; additional language learning motivation; multilingual language education

Cet article compare les orientations et les caractéristiques motivationnelles de trois groupes différents d’élèves en 6e année dans un programme de français comme seconde langue officielle (FSLO) : des élèves anglophones nés au Canada, des élèves bilingues nés au Canada et des immigrants allophones plurilingues. Cette étude à méthodologies mixtes repose sur données quantitatives provenant de questionnaires et des données qualitatives tirées d’entrevues. L’objectif en est de déterminer les différences potentielles dans la volonté de communiquer chez les trois populations (MacIntyre, Dörnyei, Clément, and Noels, 1998) et d’évaluer d’autres dimensions de la motivation intégrative. Les résultats quantitatifs révèlent que la motivation chez les apprenants immigrants plurilingues est plus forte que chez les deux autres groupes et ce, pour la plupart des mesures. Toutefois, les données qualitatives viennent contredire certains de ces résultats. L’étude donne un aperçu des façons dont la motivation d’apprendre le FSLO au Canada varie selon différents groupes d’apprenants.

Mots clés : motivation pour apprendre une langue seconde; enseignement en français langue seconde; volonté à communiquer; motivation pour apprendre une langue additionnelle; enseignement plurilingue des langues


Author Biographies

Callie Mady, Nipissing University
Callie Mady is the Associate Dean of the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University. Her research interests include French as a second language education and multilingual language acquisition. In particular, her research focuses on minority populations in those areas: immigrants and students with learning difficulties.
Katy Arnett, St. Mary's College of Maryland
Katy Arnett is Professor of Educational Studies and Coordinator of Transparent Teaching & Assessment at St. Mary's College of Maryland.  Her research interests include French as a second language education and inclusive teaching practices.  More specifically, her research often explores issues involved in preparing/supporting teachers to meet the needs of students with learning difficulties and newcomers.
Stephanie Arnott, University of Ottawa
Stephanie Arnott is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. Her primary research focus is on methodological and curricular innovation in Canadian French as a second language education, with a complementary emphasis on investigating the knowledge base of second language teachers and the motivation of core French students.