University students’ plurilingual profiles in a French frontier city: Similarities and differences between more and less plurilingual students

Denyze Toffoli 1, *
Abstract : Plurilingualism has been targeted as an objective of the European Commission and its deployment is naturally thought to originate in the education sector. A recent study of the Commission (2012) has pointed to the poor results of French schooling with regard to foreign language instruction, but few quantitative studies have looked specifically at student perceptions of foreign language instruction at university. The University of Strasbourg is less than ten kilometres from Germany and only some 140km from Switzerland. Various international agreements provide room for cooperation between the three countries. Nearly 20% of Strasbourg's student population is foreign (mostly European, but also African and Asian, with a small representation from both North and South America). Twenty-three different languages are offered for study, 18 to degree level. The recent (2009) merger of what were previously three local universities and a certain number of schools and institutes provides a background of both varying requirements and diverse pedagogical practices with regard to language acquisition. As a prelude to the implementation of new language policies, a survey of 1400 students, representative of all faculties and schools, was conducted in April 2014, to determine students' positions on languages and language learning. Students' plurilingual profiles, attitudes and language learning preferences were probed. Results include a quantification and identification of languages spoken and comparative studies of more and less plurilingual students concerning language learning skills, representations and preferences, as well as engagement in international mobility. Conclusions suggest policy adaptations as means for promoting and valorising plurilingual skills within the university community.
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Denyze Toffoli. University students’ plurilingual profiles in a French frontier city: Similarities and differences between more and less plurilingual students. Language Learning in Higher Education, De Gruyter, 2015, 5 (1), pp.25-43. ⟨10.1515/cercles-2015-0002⟩. ⟨hal-01227576⟩

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