Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert C. Lafayette


The purpose of this dissertation was to examine whether or not there are differences in the performance achieved by high school students (enrolled in French II) and college students (enrolled in second semester of French), on tests of culture, listening, reading, grammar, speaking and writing. The results from the background questionnaires and the six tests show that: (1) Selfplacement is the most common procedure used by university false-beginners; (2) Overall, college students scored significantly higher than their high school counterparts on all six tests; (3) College true- and false-beginners scored significantly higher than high school students on tests of listening, reading, speaking and writing. The post hoc test could not locate the difference for culture and grammar; (4) No significant difference was found between true- and false-beginners on the culture, reading, grammar, speaking and writing examinations. However, false-beginners outperformed true-beginners in listening. The results show that length of study was not an important factor. They also suggest that: (1) age may have an effect on the scores of high school students, (2) intervening years, that is the gap in French study between high school and college, may account for the lack of significant difference between university true-beginners and university false-beginners. With regard to age, ANOVAs were performed on the scores obtained by students from high school A and university true- and false-beginners. High school A was chosen among the four participating high schools because of its high mean scores. The results show no significant difference between high school A students and university true- and false-beginners on culture, grammar, speaking and writing. On reading both university groups scored significantly higher than high school A students. On listening, high school A students outperformed university true-beginners; no difference was found between high school A students and university false-beginners on this test. The present study did not investigate the potential effect of intervening years on the performance of false-beginners. Implications emanating from this research include enforcement of university placement policies, the need for a systematic administration of foreign language programs both in terms of length, and sequencing.