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French & Francophone Studies
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
reading, sociocultural theory, French, second language, pedagogy
This thesis focuses on reading in a second language (L2) classroom and specifically on Sociocultural strategies for reading texts in the elementary French classroom. This pedagogical report first outlines the theoretical basis of the two pedagogical experiences presented which include Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory of learning and development (SCT), specifically Cole’s (2003) Question-Asking-Reading (QAR) approach, traditional reading approaches and a literacy approach to teaching reading. The key concepts of SCT that influenced these pedagogical experiences include the zone of proximal development (ZPD), mediation, the shift from interpersonal to intrapersonal, prolepsis, and shared activities based on a specific division of labor. Cole’s QAR approach focused on teaching reading to students who struggled with reading in their first language (L1) and included a clear structure, specific roles, an interesting text, goal talk, and a scaffolding plan. Traditional reading approaches focus on the integration of bottom-up and top-down processing. A literacy approach focuses on meaning, the integration of language, context and content and the use of authentic texts. For the two pedagogical experiences outlined in this thesis, Cole’s QAR approach was adapted for university students in a second semester French class, who were learning to read in an L2. These experiences also included a clear structure, specific roles, an interesting text and a scaffolding plan. The structure included four main steps: (1) read one section aloud – alternating readers, (2) silent reading/preparing role, (3) talk as a group – fulfill roles, (4) change roles and return to step (1). The roles included the person who leads the discussion on: (1) hard-to-pronounce words, (2) hard-to-understand words or expressions, (3) main idea, (4) what will happen next, and (5) hard-to-understand grammatical structures. The text was a French fairy tale, “Roman d’amour d’une patate” by Pierre Gripari. The roles represent the different steps in the reading process and by dividing this process into roles, the group shares in the process of reading. As students learn the tools needed in this group process and internalize the tools needed for reading, they should be able to take on more of the responsibility themselves.