Social identity in Canadian French as a second language programs

Hilary Walton, University of Toronto, Canada;    Abstract: This study examines whether second language educational programs influence students’ psychological and cognitive attachment to their same-program peers (i.e., social identity). Social identity has shown to have important implications for group-level phenomena in experimental and societal groups but has not yet been investigated in educational contexts. Thus, 50 second language learners of French enrolled in either a core French or a French immersion high school program completed a social identity questionnaire consisting of fourteen 7-point Likert scale questions targeting the strength of participants’ French program identity. We expected French immersion students to report higher levels of social identity because their program requires that students spend more time with their same-program peers. Results confirmed that French immersion participants reported significantly higher levels of emotional connection (p<0.001) and perceived commonalities (p<0.01) with their peers than core French participants, suggesting higher levels of social identity overall. Such results can be applied to analyses of language learning programs as well as to investigate group level phenomena.

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