French - Doctoral Theses

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 17
  • Item
    The effects of age and intensive exposure on second language learning in an international school context: a study of adolescent learners of English
    (University College Cork, 2022) Jouinot, Isabelle; Howard, Martin; University College Cork
    The aim of this PhD thesis was to investigate the effects of age and intensive exposure on the learning of a second language in an international school context. This PhD sought to confirm the positive impact of intensive exposure on L2 development in adolescent learners and evidence possible differences in learning rate and proficiency between learners at the beginning versus in the middle of adolescence. The relative impact of internal and external factors on linguistic development during adolescence was assessed, and the contribution of a range of quantity- and quality-oriented input variables was estimated. Learners’ experiences were analysed to provide more insights into teenagers’ L2 learning in an international school and determine which characteristics of its education model might be extended to further contexts for quality, equitable bilingual education in the 21st century. A sequential mixed-method, longitudinal design with semi-guided learner interviews was used for this investigation, starting with the quantitative analyses of the interviews, followed by their qualitative examination. The mixed-method design was created with the aim of integrating findings from the two methods of investigation and discussing their convergences and divergences. The data was collected at three time points over ten months, from 28 French L1 learners of English, of which 14 were aged 11 and the other 14 were 15 years old. The learners were attending a one-year semi-intensive L2 learning programme designed for rapid English learning in an at-home context. A large range of objective and holistic proficiency measures were employed to scrutinise learners’ L2 development, including complexity, accuracy and fluency indices of oral proficiency. Cumulative and current L2 exposures were evaluated with the help of a questionnaire on language learning background and extracurricular exposure, and a second questionnaire on motivation was also administered. The qualitative analyses were conducted based on the vision of bilingual education in the 21st century created by García and colleagues (2011). The benefit of intensive exposure for proficiency development was confirmed for the period of adolescence, with the caveat that semi-intensive exposure in an instructed context led to mixed results in terms of oral proficiency growth. The intensive input supported rapid oral accuracy and holistic proficiency development, but complexity and fluency gains emerged later, and only for certain subcomponents. Age-related differences in learning rate and proficiency were also evidenced. The 15-year-olds showed an advantage in lexical and grammatical complexity and written production. However, the 11-year-olds had a faster learning rate than their older peers in lexical accuracy and breakdown fluency. Unexpectedly, initial L2 proficiency levels had a more important impact than age on linguistic development during the intensive experience. For grammatical complexity, combined effects of age, initial proficiency and intensive exposure on the type of syntactic structure developed were evidenced. During adolescence, exposure-related external factors were shown to contribute more to L2 development than age-related internal factors. For lexical and grammatical complexity, internal factors associated played a greater role than in other proficiency dimensions. While global proficiency, lexical complexity and fluency developed over the learners’ entire learning history, grammatical complexity, and lexical and grammatical accuracy were boosted by the intensive experience. Cumulative curricular exposure had a greater influence on proficiency development than the one-year intensive programme, which was related to a prior intensification of L2 instruction. Some effects were found for extracurricular exposure on lexical development and holistic proficiency before, but not during the intensive experience. During the intensive programme, the older learners shifted from extensive extramural to intensive intramural exposure in the international school. Learners’ global motivation remained unchanged during the intensive year, although patterns of long-, medium- and short-term dynamics emerged for different motivational components. The ideal L2 self, instrumental motivation and integrativeness did not show an increase during the intensive experience, as the adolescents were still in the process of creating a vision of their future selves. However, medium-term changes in integrativeness, and attitudes towards the L2 speakers and related cultures were linked to the students’ experience in the international school. The bilingual and bicultural education provided in the international school was found to correspond to the prestigious bilingual education model based on additive bilingualism and monoglossic beliefs, as defined by García (2011). Although this model ensures the maintenance of high standards of bilingual proficiency and bicultural knowledge, more integration and cooperation could be created between the taught languages and cultures, the two curricula, their teachers and teaching pedagogies. Selective international sections could become more equitable and inclusive and cater for speakers of minoritised languages and students with learning difficulties and special needs.
  • Item
    The construction of group identities and the positioning of ‘Irishness’ in computer-mediated siscourse surrounding the repeal of the Eighth Amendment
    (University College Cork, 2021) Grant, Ciara; Howard, Martin; Devlin, Anne Marie
    In 2018 Ireland held a referendum proposing a repeal of an historic amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed the unborn child a right to life equal to that of the mother, effectively rendering abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances. The referendum on this divisive issue generated enormous public interest, resulting in highly publicised debates in both online and offline spheres. This study uses the online context of the referendum to examine identity construction and navigation by groups and individuals participating in computer-mediated discourse. Four major identity themes are identified in this study: national, gender, political, and religious. Data are collected from comments made by users on the public Facebook pages of major Irish news outlets. There are two major groups identified in this study: the Yes group which self-identifies as pro-choice and supports a Yes vote in the referendum, and the No group which self-identifies as pro- life and advocates a No vote which would retain the status quo. There is also a third group of Undecided voters, although there were few examples of these comments in the data corpus. Using a combined positioning theory and corpus-based approach to discourse analysis, the data corpus is analysed using both quantitative and qualitative methods, including the analytical software tool AntConc. The study finds that there are two divergent Irish identities in this debate. The Yes group positions Ireland and its people as a modern nation, evidenced by their support of increased access to abortion. This stance carries a wider symbolism including a greater emphasis on gender equality and women’s rights, as well as a separation of Church and State. By comparison, it was found that the No group’s version of Irish identity is focused on retention of the traditional family unit at the centre of society, emphasised by a difference from Britain and informed by Catholic values and morals. The study also identified a high prevalence of trolling by both Yes and No users. This is a discursive feature that is unique to computer-mediated environments and is influenced by the nature of online communication itself.
  • Item
    Voices from the outside: Homeric exiles in twentieth-century French writing
    (University College Cork, 2020) Burke, Catherine; Noonan, Mary P.; Irish Research Council; Fulbright Association
    This thesis explores the twentieth-century trope of the outsider but from a modern and Homeric perspective. The corpus of artists under review each develop a symbiotic relationship with Homer and his epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is an encounter that repositions the outsider, shifting our gaze from the pitiable, shunned ‘étranger’ to the creative, empowered, and vocal other. The position of the exile is recast as a Homeric exile of possibility. I begin the discussion with Marcel Proust, one of the cornerstones of French literary and cultural history. Through his masterful work A la recherche du temps perdu, Proust fashions a French epic deeply indebted to Homer, exploiting the figure of the Homeric bard to craft his modern response to the contemporary notion of the twentieth-century French outsider. The second chapter follows on from this, with Jean Giono and Naissance de l’Odyssée building on this idea of the storyteller and in particular the self-referential and metanarrative nature of the role, and how this impacts upon and advances the French Homeric exile. The result is an intricate exploration of the relationship with literary predecessors, one that oscillates from parasitism to symbiosis, with the identity of the artist moulded by the encounter. The third chapter moves to a comparative study of two French women, Simone Weil and Rachel Bespaloff and their respective engagement with Homer’s Iliad. This chapter explores a notable development in the Homeric reconfiguration of the twentieth-century modern French exile. The chapter provides evidence of female artists engaging with Homer, where the female response is not determined by gender and where the playfulness discernible in the previous artists is in stark contrast to the grim and gritty Homeric rewritings of these women. Both Weil and Bespaloff are at pains to reveal that the creative and powerful position of the reconfigured outsider is one hard fought. Chapter Four deals with the inimitable Claude Cahun, an artist who embodies the twentieth-century French Homeric outsider. In both her visual artwork and her literary work Héroïnes, Cahun represents a significant iteration of the French Homeric outsider. Throughout her work, she explores many of the themes of the thesis, interrogating the nature of art and the artist, the fluidity of the self, the metamorphosis of the artist, the performative aspect of identity and the role of the other. Chapter Five brings us to Monique Wittig, one of the most influential voices in the feminist movement in France. Her Homeric reworking of the Iliad, Les Guérillères, is in marked contrast to that of Weil and Bespaloff. Wittig wears her gender very much on her sleeve: this is a feminist revision of the Homeric Iliad and stamps a female voice on the figure of the Homeric exile in twentieth-century France. The thesis ends with a conclusion that ties the disparate strands together in a coherent illustration of the twentieth-century French encounter with Homer. The encounter is an intertextual exchange that saw the emergence of a distinct Homeric voice of exile, one that articulated a unique moment in France’s cultural history. From this fertile engagement avenues of possibility spring forth for the future Homer, the quintessential voice of exile.
  • Item
    Social and personal engagement and development during study abroad: experiential perspectives from Saudi language learners
    (University College Cork, 2021-02-24) Almohammade, Nesreen; Howard, Martin
    This thesis is a longitudinal study that aims to explore Saudi language learners’ experiences in a study-abroad environment. The study investigated their contact with the language, culture and academic life in Ireland and how gender influenced their sojourn experience. The research will reveal the impact of study abroad experience on Saudi learners’ language development and personal growth from learners’ perspectives. The study included ten newly-arrived Saudi language learners in Ireland and followed a qualitative research approach. Two face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were guided by three research questions about how the participants spent their time abroad, gender influence and overall perception of the study-abroad experience. Participants were interviewed twice, upon their arrival and three months after they settled in. The data from the interviews were analysed under the objectives of the study using computer analysis software. The data analysis revealed that learners’ expectations of their language use and social relationships with native speakers were not realistic and were challenging to achieve. However, once they modified their expectations, their perception of the experience changed positively. The findings highlight how the learners are active social agents who wish to socialise and use the language inside and outside the classroom in authentic real-life situations. Furthermore, communicating in the second language was perceived as the main challenge they experienced upon arrival, followed by interacting with the opposite gender in the case of female participants. According to the learners, their social networks included mainly other international students and co-national friends due to the fact that meeting native speakers was difficult except for those who lived with a host family.
  • Item
    Language practices and experiences among active and heritage speakers of Romani: a cross-country comparison of Czech and Slovak Roma
    (University College Cork, 2021) Plachetka, Martin; Howard, Martin; Irish Research Council
    This study examines Romani language use, attitudes and identity issues in the context of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Qualitative data on Roma language experiences and attitudes surrounding Romani use, transmission, maintenance and loss were collected through in-depth interviews. The research involved ten Czech Roma and ten Slovak Roma participants, thus allowing for a cross-country comparison. Thematic analysis provided findings that define the Slovak Roma as proficient and active users of Romani, whereas the Czech Roma emerge as heritage speakers of the language. The findings suggest that the Slovak Roma assign an affective value to Romani and a utilitarian language value to Slovak. On the other hand, the Czech Roma display both affective and utilitarian values to Czech, since they are not proficient speakers of Romani. The Romani language is seen as a reflection of linguistic and identity oppressions and discrimination over time. Therefore, its usage evidences a functional split between private and public domains. It is freely used with family, friends and relatives (e.g. in private), where the language receives the most positive attitudes as part of ethnic identity. On the other hand, it loses such positive attitudes in public domains, such as in formal and transactional situations (e.g. in interactions with public officials). The findings also indicate that language and identity carry a certain level of linguistic and social stigma among the participants. Although with some exceptions, the speakers positively recognise their membership of their ethnic group. However, unlike the Slovak Roma, the findings point to a slower and more gradual ethnic identity development among the Roma participants in the Czech Republic. This is attributed to their early integration within the dominant Czech society and realisation of their struggles throughout history. Overall, despite the positive attitudes towards Romani (at least in the private domains), the findings provide evidence of the presence of deep-rooted stigmas attached to the language and identity. These issues are explored using different theoretical frameworks, such as Bourdieu’s (1991) Theory of Capital, Phinney’s (1993) Model of Ethnic Identity Development and Hyme’s (1968/1974) SPEAKING Model.