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Keywords:

  • enrollment;
  • gender differences;
  • mixed methodology;
  • role of encouragement

Male disinterest in second and foreign language programs has been well documented in recent years. The influence of encouragement to study languages also has been thoroughly investigated. There is, however, little research that connects these two phenomena. This study investigated if gender differences exist in the amount of encouragement students receive to study French. Approximately 500 students in ninth grade completed a questionnaire; the data then were explored in interviews with students and teachers. Results indicated that encouragement is an important factor in the decision to study French and that boys are perceived to receive less encouragement than girls to study the language. Suggestions for how such gender differences can be addressed are discussed.