The Concept of “French” in Foreign Language Texts


  • Joseph A. Wieczorek

    1. Loyola College
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      Joseph A. Wieczorek (Ph.D., Georgetown University) is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He also teaches French, Spanish, and Russian at Centennial High School, Ellicott City, MD.


ABSTRACT  One common trend in French-as-a-second-language texts is to expose students to the many facets of France. The texts therefore ignore to a large extent the cultural and sociolinguistic contributions of the 42 countries that boast French as a primary, secondary, or tertiary language. The position of this essay is that linguistic and cultural aspects of additional francophone countries are necessary for a well-rounded perspective of French as a language spoken over a large geographic area and by a diverse population. This study looks at 12 textbooks and additional language learning materials, chosen to represent various authors, publishers, and philosophies. A brief analysis was made of the presentation of material concerning the country or area represented. Information about countries other than France averaged about 5.13 percent of the texts surveyed. In addition, little dialectological information was provided about France itself. The lack of a multicultural and multidialectal approach may foster some undue prejudice toward certain language varieties and may impede communication by inadequately preparing our students for real-world language use. Some 21 suggestions are offered for a more balanced approach to the French language and francophone cultures for both instructors and learners.