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Keywords:

  • cross-cultural understanding;
  • culture learning;
  • learners' beliefs;
  • teaching culture;
  • vocabulary acquisition

Abstract

Learning a foreign language promotes new ways of seeing the world and the self in relation to it (Gee, 1996), making practices and perspectives underlined through the acquisition of vocabulary and grammatical structures available for appropriation (Bakhtin, 1981; Kramsch, 1993, 2009). Using a combination of interviews and self-reported questionnaires, this study explores what may influence learners' preconceived images and cultural representations of the French language and culture in an introductory French language course. Data analysis shows that participants started a reflection on how learning a foreign language opens access to the cultures that speak it and embodies cultural acts. However, the findings suggest that at the beginning level, the reflection on the interconnection between a language and its culture needs to be nurtured within the course content itself in order to encourage the process of developing cross-cultural understanding.