Prof. Britta Thörle
In residence at
Dr Marie Skrovec
Attitudes and language use of international exchange students during their stay in Orléans: the example of discourse markers in L2 French
With the ESLO corpus (Enquêtes SocioLinguistiques à Orléans), created in the 1960s and continued since 2008, the University of Orléans holds one of the most important sociolinguistic corpora of spoken French. ESLO is conceived as the “sound portrait of a city” through its residents, portraying different social identities, their language use and attitudes, as well as the diversity of urban communication situations and everyday practices. Within the framework of the AVR project, the methodological tools of the ESLO corpus will be used to look at a group of residents that has not yet been considered, namely the group of foreign exchange students who complete part of their studies in Orléans. The University of Orléans receives up to 150 international students per year as part of the Erasmus+ programme. These students usually stay for one academic year, experiencing their daily life on campus and in the city, interacting with native speakers of the same age and immersing themselves in a French-speaking environment. The research interest of the project aims at the questions of how the students’ perception of the city, its inhabitants and the language changes during the first 5-6 months of their stay in Orléans and how the students’ language use in oral interaction evolves during this period. The latter is examined using the example of discourse marker (DM) acquisition. DMs are “small words” such as bon, enfin, voilà, hein, etc., which are often overheard as “superfluous”, but which in oral interaction fulfil a variety of conversational functions with regard to the control and structuring of turns and topics, argumentation or formulation work. The mastery of these elements is considered a resource and an indicator of fluency and interactional competence in the foreign language (L2). Didactic issues of learning and teaching DMs are therefore also a concern of the proposed project, which is linked to the already approved ATHENA project ESLO-FLEU (ESLO – FLE et Linguistique pour l’Enseignement Universitaire).