Soutenance de thèse à Hong Kong (cotutelle internationale)

Lorraine de Beaufort a brillamment soutenu sa thèse à Hong Kong en anglais le 10 mai 2019. La thèse a été portée sous la co-direction de John Trent (Education University of Hong Kong) et Dominique Macaire (Université de Lorraine, laboratoire ATILF).

La thèse présente une méthodologie émergente en Europe, celle de la « narrative inquiry ». Elle s’adosse à la recherche qualitative des « récits de vie ». Les sujets de l’étude sont des adultes apprenant le français, définie ici comme « langue additionnelle » dans un contexte multilingue. Les questions de trajectoire et d’identité sont au coeur de cette thèse interculturelle.

Titre  et résumé de  la thèse

Learnig French in Hong Kong: Narrative perspectives on identity construction

This doctoral research examines the relationship between language learning and identity construction, focusing on four Hong Kong adults and their experiences of learning French. The study adopts a poststructuralist perceptive on identity, which is to say identity is constructed discursively, experientially and in conflict (Trent, 2018) and is therefore fluid and constantly changing according to situation and context. From this perspective language learning is a process that takes place at several levels of context, including the wider socio-political context, the immediate social environment and the level of thoughts, emotions and ideas. It is also, inevitably, a process of identity construction which reflects ‘the desire of learners to expand their range of identities and to reach out to wider worlds’ (Pavlenko & Norton, 2007, 670).

Using a narrative methodology known as ‘narrative inquiry’ (Clandinin & Connelly 2000), the study highlights the personal experiences of learners and illustrates various aspects of language learning in the age of ‘superdiversity’ (Vertovec, 2007). Unlike the three dominant languages in Hong Kong, i.e. Cantonese, English and Mandarin, ‘minor’ languages such as French have been given relatively little research attention, perhaps because of their apparent remoteness and limited usefulness. Using data gathered from a range of sources including in-depth interviews, language learner histories and written accounts of learning activities online, this inquiry aims to illustrate how even ‘minor’ languages can be significant in terms of identity. The four participants whose experience of learning languages is investigated in this study have all studied French in formal settings, but their engagement with French has also developed through workplace and travel experiences, as well as through online interaction.

The study was able to highlight the unique and personal experiences of learners and illustrates various aspects of language learning and their significance for learner identity. It is argued that these aspects are often overlooked from a conventional language didactic perspective. Firstly, the study shows that additional language learning can play a significant role in learner identities, despite limited levels of conventional proficiency. Secondly, the process of language learning is revealed as being one of growing intercultural awareness, an awareness that is brought to bear upon the learner’s own cultural environment and also has relevance for identity. The study offers orientations for methodology, theory and pedagogy.

The study concludes by highlighting the need to acknowledge the ‘diversity or multidimensionality’ of language learners in curriculum and language classrooms (e.g. Byrd Clark, 2010) as well as give learners opportunities to exercise their social selves in the language classroom. Also, pedagogical notions of language and languages need to be reconceptualised to reflect the creative, diverse and complex languagerepertoires of language of multilingual learners and speakers, which go beyond a conventional understanding of what it means to learn a language and involve the use of a range of linguistic and semiotic resources. »