Learning to Read in Multiple Languages: A Study Exploring Allophone Students’ Reading Development in French Immersion


  • Renée Bourgoin St. Thomas University
  • Joseph Dicks University of New Brunswick




This article describes a two-year study of the French and English reading development of seven elementary French immersion (FI) students who spoke a home language that is neither English nor French. Given the critical role of literacy in school success and the growing number of third language (L3) learners entering FI, this study focused on L3 learners’ reading experiences. Standardized reading measures were administered in English and in French and think-aloud protocols and interviews were conducted with students. Results suggest that L3 students are similar to, if not stronger than, their bilingual peers with respect to English and French reading ability. They also relied on their knowledge of other languages to support French reading development and evidence of metalinguistic and metacognitive insights is presented. A number of classroom implications for teaching reading in diverse FI classrooms are included.

Author Biographies

Renée Bourgoin, St. Thomas University

Dr. Renée Bourgoin is an Assistant professor in the School of Education at St. Thomas University.  Her research interests are in the areas of oral, reading and writing acquisition and pedagogy, biliteracy, at-risk/struggling second language learners, cross-linguistic transfer, and inclusion in language immersion.  Before joining the School of Education at St. Thomas University, Renée worked as French Second Language Subject Coordinator for the Anglophone West School District.  She was also a member of the Second Language Research Institute ofCanada's research team on exemplary second language teaching practices.

Joseph Dicks, University of New Brunswick

Joseph Dicks is the Director of the Second Language Research Institute of Canada and professor in the Faculty of Education, University of New Brunswick. His responsibilities include teaching courses in the areas of bilingualism, second language assessment and evaluation. His scholarly work involves research in the areas of assessment and literacy, program policy, planning and evaluation, and curriculum development. Before working at the university, Dr. Dicks taught both core French and French immersion at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and worked as an FSL consultant. He is a senior author of textbooks for FSL at the middle level and series editor for an elementary level program. Dr. Dicks is also co-editor in chief of the Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics (CJAL).




How to Cite

Bourgoin, R., & Dicks, J. (2019). Learning to Read in Multiple Languages: A Study Exploring Allophone Students’ Reading Development in French Immersion. Language and Literacy, 21(2), 10–28. https://doi.org/10.20360/langandlit29466