International Studies and Languages

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language investment; language ideology; linguistic capital; imagined identities; French immersion; Canada; adolescents


French second language (FSL) education, including the option of one-way French immersion, is mandated for majority-language Anglophone children in New Brunswick, Canada’s only officially bilingual province. Language ideological debates in the province surrounding official English-French bilingualism led us to investigate adolescent majority-language immersion students’ investment in French, the co-official minority language, using Darvin and Norton’s (2015) tripartite (capital, ideology, identity) model. We discuss 3 student profiles, drawing on data collected from multimodal focus groups conducted among 8th grade French immersion students. Our analysis reveals a dominance of neoliberal ideologies in these students’ investment in French rendering it imbalanced and largely driven by imagined access to future economic capital. Language as cultural or social capital (Bourdieu, 1986) figures inconsistently in their investment. Drawing on our data, we conclude by proposing that Darvin and Norton’s (2015) model, with a balanced focus on each kind of capital within the model, may be used conceptually by educators in program development. The model used in such a way would enable educators to give equal priority to students’ identity and intercultural development as to their preparation for participation in economic marketplaces, thus potentially expanding majority language students’ investment in their co-official minority L2.

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Modern Language Journal