Reconciling language anxiety and the ‘Montréal switch’: An autoethnography of learning French in Montréal and negotiating my Canadian identity through language


  • Lauren Anne Godfrey-Smith McGill University


additional language education, identity, language anxiety, Montréal, autoethnography


In this autoethnography, I explore and attempt to make sense of the tensions I experienced in negotiating my identity as an adult learner of French as an additional language in Montréal. I draw from critical sociolinguistics (Lamarre, 2013; Heller, 2007) and Norton’s (2013) definition of identity to discuss and analyse my experiences of the world beyond the language classroom. I explore how the ‘Montréal switch’, when speakers of French responded to me in English when I spoke to them in French, was a particular site of struggle. I discuss how notions of citizenship and belonging intersected with my feelings of language anxiety and the Montréal switch, and attempt to unpack my assumptions and (mis)perceptions of these experiences. My analyses bring additional light to Montréal’s complex sociolinguistic dynamic and the lived experiences of language learners.

Author Biography

Lauren Anne Godfrey-Smith, McGill University

Lauren Godfrey-Smith is a PhD candidate in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) at McGill University.






Research Study/Recherche