Abstract

As the need for foreign language education increases, various types of immersion programs are on the rise within the United States. This study presents foreign language housing as an under-researched type of immersion program that can be a valuable component of university language departments. Using the framework of situated learning and communities of practice, this study provides an in-depth look at lower proficiency (LP) student perspectives and experiences within Brigham Young University's French House. Data were collected through a preliminary questionnaire, a semester-long period of observations, and multiple interviews with select participants. A comparison of all three sources revealed that all levels of learners played a role in creating a comfortable, safe community where participants could make linguistic progress and build social ties. In particular, student leaders, known as resident facilitators, play a key role in granting legitimacy to the LP learners by including them in a variety of activities and giving them specific roles to fulfill within the community. By contrast, attitudes of superiority from student leaders or higher proficiency learners as well as misunderstandings between residents damaged the sense of community at one point and hindered LP learner participation through increased social tension and language anxiety. The data also revealed that moderate first language use was an effective tool in building good relationships, a key component of a healthy community of practice. Further, the data suggest that involvement in the community's activities and practices was related to different personality traits in the participants including willingness to communicate in either the first or the second language. As a whole, the study exhibits that foreign language houses provide a wealth of viable research topics and underscores the important role of building community relationships within a second language learning environment.

Degree

MA

College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies

Rights

http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2012-07-10

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd5491

Keywords

foreign language housing, L2 immersion, communities of practice, situated learning, student involvement

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