Responding to Characters: A Study of French Learners' Interpretive Skills and Affective Responses to Literature Miranda I. Kentfield Ph.D. Candidate Department of French Original Research Objectives:
Responding to Characters: A Study of French Learners' Interpretive Skills and Affective Responses to Literature
Miranda I. Kentfield
Department of French
Original Research Objectives:
I. Evaluate students’ ability to read and interpret literary texts as they pass from the intermediate to the advanced stages of language learning
II. Learn about students’ affective responses to characters in prose fiction
I developed two separate studies based on excerpts from Hugo’s Les Misérables:
The Project Evolves…
Reading Les Misérables: A Study of French Learners’ Developing Ability to Comprehend and Interpret French Literature
Two Subject Groups:
27 Intermediate Language Learners
7 Advanced Language Learners
Assessment Vehicle: A Three-Page Written Task
Students read short paragraphs from Les Misérables
Eight questions to answer
Students may respond in English or in French
At the end, an optional feedback sheet to fill out
Time frame: 45-75 minutes (no limit imposed)
17 Intermediate Subjects did not use a dictionary
10 Intermediate Subjects used a dictionary
Advanced Subjects did not use a dictionary
Results of the Written Task
Comparing the Performance of Intermediate and Advanced Language Learners
Three types of skills were evaluated:
Interpretation I: Thematic Analysis
Interpretation II: Formal Analysis
General Definition: An ability to understand and accurately reproduce factual information conveyed by the text.
Increased knowledge of vocabulary words.
Higher rates of success with complex questions.
A Reading Comprehension Issue of Interest: Question 4
Quelle est la « lutte colossale » qui a lieu à l’intérieur de l’esprit de Jean Valjean ? Qu’est-ce qui la provoque ?
What is the « colossal struggle » that takes place within the mind of Jean Valjean ? What provokes it?
Findings from Question 4:
General Definition: An ability to offer a justifiable interpretation of the themes, ideas, or implied meanings in a text by relying on the use of textual evidence.
Advanced Learner Performance: Thematic Analysis
Response from both learner groups was similar:
Intermediate Learner Group: French 4 Students
Students at both learning levels might benefit from: