Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert C. Lafayette


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a Whole Language Approach (WLA), using authentic French stories, on measures of listening and reading comprehension of fourth-year high school students of French, and on their attitudes to learning French, as opposed to students using customary textbook materials in a conventional teacher-centered classroom setting. This investigation comprised two components: (a) a quantitative component which statistically determined results on measures of listening, reading and attitude, and, (b) a qualitative component which reviewed classroom procedures through observation and interview. Analysis of variance on four separate posttests showed statistically significant differences in favor of the experimental group for listening recall protocol, reading recall protocol, and reading objective tests. The qualitative data corroborated this evidence by revealing a gradual progression from skill-getting to independent skill-using in practice communication sessions. In addition, experimental students demonstrated increased vocabulary recognition and greater facility in dealing with target language structures. Although analysis of variance showed a statistically significant difference in favor of the control group on attitude measures, the qualitative data did not support this finding. Data from class observations and from random interviews revealed that experimental students experienced greater satisfaction and pride as a result of enhanced skills. They also expressed enjoyment in the autonomy of self-selected reading materials and shared creative activities. Control students expressed enjoyment related to the fun of learning about France and French culture. However, they also expressed frustration prompted by a desire for greater organization and increased challenge in the learning environment. This research project represents an original experiment in adapting Whole Language principles to a foreign language classroom setting. The results are encouraging, but further research is needed to confirm these positive effects.