The effect of cultural competence on the acquisition of French T/V pronouns

Stacey C Latimer, Purdue University


The appropriate use of Tu/Vous French pronouns in everyday situations proves to be an ongoing challenge not only for native speakers but also for learners of the language. The complexity of the use of these pronouns goes beyond grammatical conjugation as it necessitates a consideration of the sociolinguistic and pragmatic situation with which one is presented. As a result, students with less exposure to T/V pronoun usage in the French culture will consequently have more difficulty in understanding the proper use of these pronouns. Although some studies have looked at students' use of T/V pronouns in online interactions (Belz & Kinginger 2002; van Compernolle, Williams & McCourt, 2011) and in conversations with native speakers (Dewaele, 2004; Kinginger, 2000), few have also taken into account the effect of cultural competence on students' choice of pronoun. As T/V pronoun usage is intricately connected to the culture, it is an aspect that merits further investigation to assess students' understanding of pronoun use in everyday situations. The present study aims to examine in which situations students feel confident using pronoun and how their cultural competence and level of French has an effect on their choice of pronoun in the situations presented within the online survey. This study will include a comparison of student responses across the levels of French taught within a university with the responses of native speakers. Cultural competence will refer to students' existing cultural understanding as a result of contact with the culture and in studies focused on French culture within the classroom that has aided in their effective and appropriate communication with persons within the French culture.




Sturm, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Cultural anthropology|Foreign Language|Sociolinguistics

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