From multilingualism to plurilingualism: university students’ beliefs about language learning in a monolingual context

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The study aims to highlight the representations that university students have about plurilingualism, in order to research how they can develop plurilingual competences in an essentially monolingual French academic setting. It is based on a survey of
  This article was downloaded by: [82.67.137.208]On: 04 March 2014, At: 06:26Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Language, Culture and Curriculum Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlcc20 From multilingualism to plurilingualism:university students’ beliefs aboutlanguage learning in a monolingualcontext Christine Jeoffrion a , Aurore Marcouyeux a , Rebecca Starkey-Perret b , Marie-Françoise Narcy-Combes b  & Ilker Birkan ca  LUNAM Université – Laboratoire de Psychologie des Pays de laLoire (LPPL – UPRES EA 4638), Faculté de Psychologie, Universitéde Nantes, Nantes, France b  CRINI – Centre de Recherches sur les Identités Nationales etl'Interculturalité – EA 1162, Université de Nantes, Nantes, France c  CREN – Centre de Recherche en Education de Nantes – EA 2661,Université de Nantes, Nantes, FrancePublished online: 28 Feb 2014. To cite this article:  Christine Jeoffrion, Aurore Marcouyeux, Rebecca Starkey-Perret, Marie-Françoise Narcy-Combes & Ilker Birkan (2014): From multilingualism to plurilingualism: universitystudents’ beliefs about language learning in a monolingual context, Language, Culture andCurriculum, DOI: 10.1080/07908318.2014.887724 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2014.887724 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.  This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   8   2 .   6   7 .   1   3   7 .   2   0   8   ]  a   t   0   6  :   2   6   0   4   M  a  r  c   h   2   0   1   4  From multilingualism to plurilingualism: university students ’  beliefsabout language learning in a monolingual context Christine Jeoffrion a  *, Aurore Marcouyeux a  , Rebecca Starkey-Perret   b ,Marie-Françoise Narcy-Combes  b and Ilker Birkan c a  LUNAM Université  –   Laboratoire de Psychologie des Pays de la Loire (LPPL  –   UPRES EA4638), Faculté de Psychologie, Université de Nantes, Nantes, France;  b CRINI   –   Centre de Recherches sur les Identités Nationales et l  ’  Interculturalité  –   EA 1162, Université de Nantes, Nantes, France;  c CREN   –   Centre de Recherche en Education de Nantes  –   EA 2661, Université de Nantes, Nantes, France (  Received 11 September 2013; accepted 20 January 2014 )The study aims to highlight the representations that university students have about  plurilingualism, in order to research how they can develop plurilingual competencesin an essentially monolingual French academic setting. It is based on a survey of 684students enrolled in two foreign language programmes across two year levels (first and fourth years) at the University of Nantes (France). The questionnaire we havedesigned includes 26 items which explicitly refer to, on the one hand, a plurilingual posture and, on the other hand, a monolingual posture. The path analysis shows that advanced students who learn several languages have a more plurilingual posture than beginners or those who learn fewer languages. Differences about the two investigated programmes are discussed. Keywords:  social representations and beliefs; multilingualism; plurilingualism;language learning; plurilingual competence; university students Introduction In spite of France ’ s recently declared desire to promote plurilingualism in order to keep upwith the demands of globalisation (Piquemal & Renaud, 2006), languages are still usuallytaught separately. Previous knowledge of other languages and the meta-reflection that com- parisons and code-switching could trigger are very seldom explored. Experiments have been conducted in France and in its neighbouring countries concerning mutual understand-ing of related languages; however, they are mostly limited to young learners (e.g. Candelier,2003; Cavalli, 2007). Research with adult learners seeks to highlight the representations they have about language learning in order to promote a plurilingual competence (Castel-lotti & Moore, 2002), but is often carried out in border or multilingual regions and focuseson beginner language classes offered in universities, leaving out an important factor, whichis how the institution can modify these beliefs across year levels.French society asa whole is notseen asa multilingual society, although many languagesare in contact (Gadet & Varro, 2006). Many prejudices clutter current views on © 2014 Taylor & Francis *Corresponding author. Email: christine.jeoffrion@univ-nantes.fr   Language, Culture and Curriculum , 2014http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2014.887724    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   8   2 .   6   7 .   1   3   7 .   2   0   8   ]  a   t   0   6  :   2   6   0   4   M  a  r  c   h   2   0   1   4  multilingualism, one of them being the myth of   ‘ absolute bilingualism ’ , the belief that amultilingual person ’ s skills in each language he speaks are equal to those of monolingualnative speakers. This representation is based on the misconception that the nativespeaker has a perfect command of his language. This norm reflects the most common per-ception of multilingualism in France (Hélot, 2007). Languages as they are imagined to bespoken by natives, postulated as being homogeneous, are the standard. This does not,however, correspond to findings in the fields of sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics.The question then arises as to whether or not French students in a monolingual context are ready for a plurilingual approach to language learning.The present study aims to highlight the representations that university students haveabout language learning, and more specifically about plurilingualism, how these represen-tations change as students advance from first year to upper years, and what they expect fromtheir language courses in order to research and analyse how they can develop plurilingualcompetences in a French academic setting, and more precisely in the Loire Region of France which is essentially monolingual (Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication,2011).This article reports the results of a survey of 684 students enrolled in two foreignlanguage programmes across two levels (first and fourth years) at the university. The find-ings of this study should help to evaluate the feasibility of implementing plurilingual cur-ricula by bringing to the surface potential opportunities as well as roadblocks. 1 From multilingualism to plurilingualism Multilingualism is defined by the Council of Europe (2001) as,  ‘ the knowledge of a number of languages or the co-existence of different languages in a given society ’  (p. 4). Since theearly 2000s, the Council of Europe has preferred the term plurilingualism in order to high-light the notion of a plurilingual competence (Castellotti & Moore, 2002). Plurilingualismemphasises: the fact that as an individual person ’ s experience of language in its cultural context expands,from the language of the home to that of society at large and then to the languages of other  peoples [...], he or she does not keep these languages and cultures in strictly separatedmental compartments, but rather builds up a communicative competence to which all knowl-edge and experience of language contributes and in which languages interrelate and interact.(Council of Europe, 2001, p. 4) This definition focuses on the interconnectivity of language competences developed by theindividual as well as on the importance of accepting various levels of mastery of thelanguage learned.Some researchers consider the use of plurilingualism to be a terminological choicecharacteristic of Francophone research. It may be noted in this regard that the term plurilin-gualism is ignored in the dictionaries of the English language and is 10 times less frequentlyfound on the Internet than multilingualism (Tremblay, 2010).The distinction between multilingualism and plurilingualism is useful to the purpose of our study in so far as taking into account the conception of multilingualism as describedabove would simply lead to the implementation of syllabi offering the opportunity tolearn different languages separately, which is already the case in French universities. Theconcept of plurilingualism offers multi-dimensional aspects of speaking and learning mul-tiple languages, i.e. sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives as interrelated. Taking both sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic dimensions into account should facilitate the2  C. Jeoffrion  et al.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   8   2 .   6   7 .   1   3   7 .   2   0   8   ]  a   t   0   6  :   2   6   0   4   M  a  r  c   h   2   0   1   4  conception of plurilingual learning environments in which learners would be able to drawon the diverse competences they have at various levels inthe different languages they know. The sociolinguistic perspective In the French context, the notion of plurilingualism has been largely researched by socio-linguists in order to analyse the diversity and complexity of plurilingual situations in theworld by describing language practices and their relationships to sociocultural, historicaland political contexts, and to that extent somewhat differs from the Anglophone approach(Dagenais & Jacquet, 2008). In a state-of-the-art article giving international visibility toFrench research on plurilingualism, Moore and Gajo (2009) highlight the sociolinguisticstance. It focuses on the role of language as constitutive of an individual ’ s identity aswell as an instrument in power relations. Particular attention has been given to the studyof learners ’  representations and to how these representations affect language acquisitionand the development of learners ’  multiple identities (Castellotti & Moore, 2002, 2004). Significantly, the definition of plurilingualism in the French version of the European frame-work insists on the sociolinguistic dimension: Plurilingual and pluricultural competence refers to the ability to use languages for the purposesof communication and to take part in intercultural interaction, where a person, viewed as asocial actor has proficiency, of varying degrees, in several languages and experience of several cultures. This is not seen as the superposition or juxtaposition of distinct competences, but rather as the existence of a complex or even composite competence on which the socialactor may draw. (Coste, Moore, & Zarate, 2009, p. v) The plurilingual speaker is seen as a social actor who develops a repertoire made up of various languages and varieties of languages, and different forms of knowledge (Moore& Gajo, 2009). Genesee, Tucker, and Lambert (1975) and Ben-Zeev (1977) also observed that plurilingual speakers are more motivated to communicate and develop sensitivity toothers and are thereby able to develop humanistic values such as tolerance of the Other.These studies have promoted holistic and integrated approaches to language teachingand learning (e.g. Cenoz & Gorter, 2011; Moore & Gajo, 2009). The psycholinguistic perspective The psycholinguistic perspective of plurilingualism has been less developed in France sofar. Researchers seem to agree on the following terms: (1) plurilingualism should be appre-hended holistically. The various areas of the brain that are stimulated during cognitiveactivities interact constantly, even if temporarily (Dörnyei, 2009; MacWhinney, 2008); (2) plurilingual competence is different from monolingualism since acquiring several lin-guistic systems, simultaneously or not, triggers qualitative changes in the psycholinguisticorganisation in the brain, which in turn creates new linguistic competences (e.g. Cook,1992; Herdina & Jessner, 2006; Jessner, 2008). The results of studies on the global effects of bilingualism agree to show a positive effect of bilingualism on the acquisitionof other languages (e.g. Bild & Swain, 1989; Cenoz & Valencia, 1994); (3) code-switching cannot be avoided when several systems exist together. When languages are in contact, cog-nitive consequences are inevitable (Dörnyei & Csizér, 2005; Grosjean, 2008). These studies argue for the interdependence of language learning due to a commonunderlying proficiency (Cummins, 1980) that allows the transfer of competences fromone language to the other from a both cognitive and meta-linguistic point of view. Being  Language, Culture and Curriculum  3    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   8   2 .   6   7 .   1   3   7 .   2   0   8   ]  a   t   0   6  :   2   6   0   4   M  a  r  c   h   2   0   1   4
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