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Towards a sociolinguistically informed pedagogy: French for L2 nursing students in Alberta Open Access


Other title
Languages for Specific Purposes
French L2 pedagogy
Sociolinguistic competence
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Beaulieu, Suzie
Supervisor and department
Maheux-Pelletier, Geneviève (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Nadasdi, Terry (Linguistics)
Beaudoin, Martin (Campus Saint-Jean)
Martin, Elizabeth (Department of World Languages and Literature)
Lemaire, Eva (Campus Saint-Jean)
Ranta, Leila (Educational Psychology)
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
French Language, Literatures and Linguistics
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation examines the sociolinguistic competence of French immersion graduates registered in the bilingual Bachelor of Science in nursing at the University of Alberta. More specifically, this research focuses on the stylistic norms required of these students to better treat their patients whose first language is French. Drawing on Valdman’s (1976, 2000) concept of pedagogical norm, two studies were designed to identify the high frequency stylistic features that are most highly valued by the target population. First, through observation and recordings of French-speaking nurses and patients in clinical settings, the stylistic norm used by the target population was identified revealing the speech styles that post-immersion nursing students would be exposed to in their clinical placements and future job appointments. The data analysis revealed that neither French-speaking nurses nor French-speaking patients make much use of formal language features in their interactions. Second, the study sought to identify the stylistic norm that target community members expect from nursing students. Accordingly, 53 French-speaking community members were asked to listen to a series of interactions in which French L1 and L2 nurses addressed a French-speaking patient using either formal or informal features. Participants rated on a 5-point Likert scale the effectiveness and acceptability of the interactions. Interviews, conducted on a voluntary basis, followed to shed light on the participants’ reactions. The results indicated that nurses who used formal language forms in their interactions were generally judged as cold and distant and received less favourable judgments from the majority of the participants than nurses who used the local norm which was more informal in nature. Although this study is confined to French L2 nursing students in Alberta, the broad implications from this dissertation calls for a pedagogical paradigm shift that may well apply to other French L2 teaching contexts. French L2 instructors all face similar educational and ideological challenges with respect to adequately preparing learners for real-life communicative demands and expectations (Chaudenson, 2006; Gadet & Guérin, 2008). As such, a better underestanding of sociolinguistically informed pedagogy could offer widespread benefits to French teachers, textbook designers and teacher trainers.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Beaulieu, S. (2011). Norme pédagogique et infirmières bilingues en milieu francophone minoritaire. Canadian Modern Language Review, 67, 507-536.

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