Graduation Date

5-2017

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne Peters, Ed.D.

Second Reader

Robin Gayle, Ph.D., MDIV, MFT

Abstract

Engaging in service learning at the high school level in a world language classroom is integral to gaining oral proficiency in the target language. Service learning helps students to see the practical application of the language and it increases student motivation. In many high schools, students have limited opportunities to engage in authentic experiences, use the target language outside of the classroom or with native speakers and they cannot envision practical application for the language. Through the implementation and evaluation of this service-learning project this study aims to increase the opportunity to use French in authentic situations and therefore increase the students’ oral proficiency.

A review of the literature revealed that the more students interact in authentic situations the higher oral proficiency rates, augmenting motivation and helping students to see the connections between learning language and its usefulness in the real world. This is a qualitative study that examines students’ perceptions of their increased French language proficiency after experiences with native speakers in a variety of contexts including speaking one-on-one with native speakers, a lesson in sports from a native speaker and communicating virtually and a-synchronistically with students in France. The secondary students are from a fourth year French class at an urban high school who are corresponding with French literature students at a public French high school. Results indicated that students have an increased awareness of the magnitude of the French speaking community; they are able to make connections between language learning and the global community, and they have increased motivation and engagement when learning through this model of teaching.

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