Éveil aux langues et à la diversité linguistique chez des élèves du primaire dans deux métropoles canadiennes

Principal Investigator(s)/Chercheur principal (Chercheurs principaux):

Diane Dagenais, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC



Co- Investigators/Co-chercheurs:

Françoise Armand, Patricia Lamarre, Université de Montréal

Danièle Moore, Cécile Sabatier, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC




SSHRC Standard Grant, (Amount:$151,820)




2005 – 2008 ( Status/Statut: In final extended year)



Contact Person/Personne contact:

Tel: 778.782.3222 E-Mail: diane_dagenais@sfu.ca Office: Education Building 8640 SFU Burnaby




My co-investigators and I became concerned about research results indicating that classroom activities in Vancouver and Montreal schools centred on French or English as languages of instruction, to the exclusion of other languages that learners speak and the range of languages in Canadian society.  To address this issue, we engaged in a teacher-researcher collaboration to consider the relevance of adapting language awareness activities, developed first in Europe, for use in Canadian classrooms as a means of engaging students and teachers in a systematic examination of language diversity and multilingualism.  We drew on a sociocultural perspective on learning and theories of language learning as social practice to analyze student andteacher interactions in classroom and community-based activities. This work is particularly exciting because it presents an avenue for transforming teaching practice by including knowledge about language constructed by bilingual/multilingual learners both at home and school.

Project Objectives/Objectifs du projet:

The general objective of this study is to examine whether elementary school students develop a critical awareness of language diversity through participation in language awareness activities over two school years.  A first specific objective is to observe how students co-construct critical reflections on languages, linguistic identities and social representations of linguistic pluralism. A second specific objective is to describe the contextual conditions that facilitate or hinder the co-construction of knowledge in school about language diversity.  A third objective is to observe the effects of participation in these activities on the development of students’ metalinguistic capacities.



Research Plan/Plan de recherche:

In this study, we adopted a comparative case study and action-research approach to research, inspired from critical ethnography. This approach enabled us to design and carry out the research in close collaboration with classroom teachers and document the co-construction of knowledge in the different contexts of language contact and language policies in place in Vancouver and Montreal.  We worked with a classroom cohort of students over their grades 5 and 6 school years, who were enrolled in the French Immersion program of a school in metropolitan Vancouver and a Francophone and classes d’acceuil (welcoming) programs in a school in Montreal.  In the first year of the project, contextual information and photographic data were gathered on the linguistic landscape -- the presence of one or more languages in the visual space of each community surrounding the participating schools.  In the second and third years of the project, we observed and video-recorded student and teacher interactions in language awareness activities.  We also interviewed students and teachers about their responses to these activities and their representations of languages and language diversity.




Like the majority of large metropolitan centres around the world, Vancouver and Montreal are characterized by increasing linguistic and cultural diversity and contact between languages that are attributed hierarchical status.  Encouraging and promoting an inclusive society involves developing and implementing policies, programs and practices that foster intercultural understanding, facilitate positive relationships and recognize linguistic and cultural diversity. As underlined in a UNESCO core policy document, L’éducation dans un monde plurilingue/Education in a multilingual world (2003), it is imperative to “encourage an approach that makes language an essential component of multicultural education in order to encourage mutual understanding between different populations and ensure respect of basic human rights” (p. 33).


(2003). L’éducation dans un monde plurilingue/Education in a multilingual world. Document cadre de l’UNESCO. Paris : Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’éducation, la science et la culture.