Clé d'ouverture sur le monde ou langue de Lord Durham? Analyse de cadrage du débat public sur l'enseignement intensif de l'anglais, langue seconde, au Québec

Authors: Hébert, Virginie
Advisor: Giasson, Thierry
Abstract: This dissertation studies the role played by the Myth of English as the global language in framing the debate on the intensive teaching of English in Quebec; a notion closely related to Quebec's language issue. Framing theories suggest that different actors (political, media and citizens) "frame" events by favoring certain definitions of social issues, which later influence how individuals perceive these issues. However, to be effective and mobilizing, frames must “strike a chord”. They must resonate culturally with shared historical narratives or myths (Snow and Benford, 1988). In this sense, due to its hegemony around the world, some researchers describe the discourse that constructs English as the universal language as a "myth". They also suggest that this myth plays a strategic role in framing linguistic issues around the world. In the unique sociolinguistic context of Quebec, where the French and English languages have coexisted and competed for a long time, we may wonder how this myth influences the framing of linguistic issues. In some debates surrounding the teaching of English in Quebec, we do observe a tension between two ways of framing English: some describe it as a “key to opening up to the world”, a promise of individual success and social mobility; on the other hand, others see it as the "language of Lord Durham", a dominating language whose expansion, particularly in the Quebec context, threatens the French language and the feeling of collective identity. The dissertation focuses on the framing of the public debate surrounding the announcement of a mandatory intensive English program policy, between February 2011 and 2015 in Quebec. It raises the question of the role played by the Myth of English as the global language in this debate. Using a three-phase mixed methods research design, the dissertation begins with a historical survey tracing the genesis of the frames and myths emerging from different public debates on the teaching of English. In a second step, a qualitative analysis allows us to list the different frames and describe framing and reasoning devices that compose them. Finally, a quantitative automated content analysis of documents from sources involved in the debate helps validate and measure the frames’ presence in this public debate. The results underline the central and polarizing nature of the issue of the teaching of English as a second language in Quebec history and show that it represent a terrain for a long-lasting ideological struggle. We observe a weak dominance of the globalizing master frame and we also note that this instrumental and universalizing perspective is not specific to recent debates, but that it is rather expressed throughout Quebec's history. The study also shows the strength and resilience of the nationalizing master frame, particularly among citizens involved in the debate, even though we observe signs of a decline of the myth of English as Lord Durham’s language. Finally, it shows that, in the Quebec debate on the teaching of English, the myth of English as the global language, provides a cultural resonance effect to the frames which mobilizes it. It allows actors to anchor their arguments in a widely shared historical narrative and conveys a certain communication ethos. It thus provides a moral evaluation grid of the issue which makes it possible to legitimize the dominant position of English in the world and, by the same token, to justify the adoption of policies favoring its teaching. The thesis responds to the need, raised by some researchers, for studies that take into account the cultural, socio-political and ideological dimensions of the framing process (Oliver and Johnston, 2000). It also contributes to a better understanding of the role of myths in this process and highlights the power dynamics that contribute to the emergence, the rise in power, and then the dominance of certain frames. In addition, the thesis helps to shed light on the understanding of how discourse on English as the global language is constructed and articulated locally. By uniquely combining certain concepts and methods from various research traditions, the favored mixed methodological approach offers a multidimensional look to the complex phenomenon of framing and helps to better understand its process.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2020
Open Access Date: 19 October 2020
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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