Standard Language Hegemony in French Language Teaching in the United States

  • Carol A. Chapelle Iowa State University
Keywords: French Canadian, historiography, Michigan, French language teaching


In the United States, the French of l’académie française and the culture of France (referred to as Standard French in this paper) has been valued by language educators to the near exclusion of North American French and culture. I construct a historiographical sketch by analyzing 1) primary sources written by French Canadians and their descendants in the United States, 2) secondary sources consisting of the historical accounts of French Canadian immigrants, linguistic descriptions of North American French, and historiography of language ideology in the United States, 3) artefacts produced by and for French language teachers in the United States including French textbooks and articles in the professional journals, 4) research investigating French Canadian influence in French language teaching, and 5) my experience in interacting with descendants of French Canadians in the United States. I illustrate how I used this range of resources to begin to construct a historiography that sheds light on the origin, resilience, and effects of standard language hegemony in French language teaching in the United States.

Author Biography

Carol A. Chapelle, Iowa State University

Carol A. Chapelle, Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University, investigates issues in language teaching, learning, and assessment.  One strand uncovers connections between French in Canada and French language teaching in the United States. Her book, Teaching culture in introductory foreign language textbooks (2016; Palgrave Macmillan), presents an analysis of Québec’s cultural narrative in five decades first-year textbooks used in the United States. Other recent publications are “Linguistic landscape images and Quebec’s cultural narrative in French textbooks” in Language teaching in the linguistic landscape edited by D. Malinowski, H. Maxim, & S. Dubreil (2021: Springer) andOpération Amérique:  Québec’s soft power applied to French language teaching in the United States (with A. Couture Gagnon) in the American Review of Canadian Studies (2019)Carol is editor of the Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (Wiley, 2013) as well as co-editor of the Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series. She is past president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, former co-editor of Language Testing, and former editor of TESOL Quarterly.  Recent awards include the 2020 Test Validity Research and Evaluation SIG Senior Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association, and the 2020 Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair Award at Carleton University in Ottawa.