The goal of this study was to explore the impact of the first language (L1) on the process of learning a second language (L2) in the context of the French Immersion program in British Columbia. Adopting a plurilingual perspective, our analysis of the data is composed of two parts : 1) a linguistic analysis of students’ interlanguage focusing on the example of the acquisition of French object clitics, and 2) a qualitative analysis of code switches which seeks to clarify their functions in the development of both the linguistic and communicative proficiency of the students. Overall this study indicates that the L1 exerts an influence not only on the rate and route of the L2 learning process, but also that the L1 is an important tool/strategy employed effectively by the students to resolve gaps in their L2 vocabulary, to help co-construct meaning with their peers, and to maintain communication.
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