Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE)

Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante (CRIFPE)


Rosenfield, A. (2020). “If you want to communicate . . .” - The Place of Language in International Students’ Transition to University: Insights from a Language Exchange. Mémoire de maîtrise inédit, Université Concordia.


Mémoires et thèses


This study of plurilingual students in a language exchange explores how English and French language learners transition to university in Canada. The study gives voice to diverse international students, framing their experiences and perspectives in the context of the internationalization of higher education. By examining the links between learners' linguistic and cultural affiliations, language learning and use, and their sense of agency, identity and belonging, I identify unique challenges, resources and potential for language and intercultural learning in creating community. Ethnographic description and thematic analysis drawn from interviews and group discussion combine to describe how learners experience the language exchange and the linguistic and cultural landscape of Montreal, and how they adapt their language use to navigate their transition. Despite experiencing the constraints of linguistic hierarchies in place at the university and in the wider community, these learners are reflexive agents who reorient to their languages flexibly. They engage in multiple autonomous language-learning practices and connect with other students within and across traditional boundaries of culture and language. Although they recognize formal differences of linguistic proficiency and cultural background, in practice, the students often reframe these potential barriers to move across them fluidly. Through their home languages, using English as a lingua franca, and by engaging in informal language learning, they develop and maintain social relationships and explore intercultural learning opportunities. These shared experiences offer new insights into international students’ agency in transition, identity in transformation and sense of belonging. The study ends with recommendations for how programs can include international students in the university community by promoting a multilingual habitus within intercultural and language-learning activities.


Logos des universités associées au CRIFPE

Adresse civique

Université de Montréal
Faculté des Sciences de l'Éducation
90, avenue Vincent d'Indy
Pavillon Marie-Victorin – C-536
Outremont (Québec) H2V 2S9

Adresse postale

Université de Montréal
Faculté des Sciences de l'Éducation
CRIFPE – C-543
C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7