The Major Problems Involved in Teaching French to American Students

Publication Year



French language, American students, teaching a foreign language, linguistics


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | French and Francophone Language and Literature | French Linguistics | Language and Literacy Education | Linguistics


This study consists of a description of the major problems involved in teaching French to American students. The first chapter presents a definition of language--verbal behavior--and an overview of the two major theoretical viewpoints concerning the nature of language. The second section, consisting of two chapters, describes problems closely related to the nature of the French language, particularly in its conflict points with English. The major problem encountered in the teaching of French pronunciation to speakers of English is the English speaker's almost unavoidable tendency to substitute English sounds for French sounds. A combination of empirical pronunciation teaching and intensive practice is suggested as a solution to this difficulty. English speakers also have interference problems in grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Again, rules and practice in combination are suggested for overcoming this problem. Part III concerns itself with student-related variables and discusses many problems that vary from student to student, such as cultural appreciation, motivation, preparation, background, memory span, and so forth. Part IV is concerned with methods, textbooks, and evaluation. The pros and cons of many methods currently and historically used in foreign language instruction are discussed. A random survey of textbooks and their strengths and weaknesses is presented in the sixth chapter. Evaluation is presented as an overview of teacher-made tests and what they measure: a survey of a variety of predictive variables in foreign language achievement is also presented.

The purpose of this study was to gather together into one place the many diverse elements mentioned above relating to the teaching of French to Americans. It is hoped that in accomplishing this the author also has made the readers more aware of the problems involved in both teaching and learning French.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status


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