Chinese Students Experiencing Learning French as a Second Language in France: A Case Study of Individual Differences in the Context of Study Abroad

Jinjing Wang and Sophie Bailly

Introduction

The Chinese educational system leaves little room for the teaching of French compared to English, because English is the only compulsory language subject in the national competition for university entrance.

Most Chinese students study a foreign language to obtain a diploma, but some of them aim to master a foreign language in order to go abroad to study, if their financial situation allows it. From 2007 to 2011, the number of Chinese students going abroad kept increasing, with 20 per cent growth observed each year. From 1978 to 2012, a total of 265,510,000 Chinese students went abroad to study (Eol, n.d.). Because most Chinese students have studied English, their favourite destinations are the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

As a result of the French government's plan to promote its universities worldwide since 1998, more and more Chinese students have chosen to come to study in France. Given the increasing demand, French language teaching is experiencing a considerable rise in China.

Today, 35,000 Chinese students are registered in French universities, making them the main contingent of foreign students in France ('Visite du president chinois en France: tapis rouge et gros contrats en vue', 2014). In an official speech, Laurent Fabius, the French minister of foreign affairs, affirmed that the number of Chinese students in France could reach 50,000 in 2015 ('En visite officielle en Chine, Fabius repart avec une promesse de cooperation etroite', 2012). It is thus important to understand their experience in language learning in the host society in order to improve the teaching and the facilities that are accorded to them. The present case study focuses on the autonomous learning abilities of three Chinese students and on the strategies they use learning French in France. We will further examine how these strategies possibly relate to their beliefs and attitudes towards French language learning.

 
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