“It’s All French Over There”

My Quest for Franco-Ontarians around Lake Erie


  • Roger Anderson Central State University




bilingualism, French, Canada, ecological, Francophone, Bronfenbrenner, Foucault


This narrative recounts one U.S. professor of French quest to locate French-speaking communities of Ontario, Canada. After one week of wasted travel and repeated frustration from misguided tips, one brief but spectacular moment occurred in a village grocery store.  It upended his pre-conceived understanding of this group and their linguistic practices. Drawing from sociological theories Bourdieu, Foucault, and Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, the author analyzes the totality of his quest, from exasperation to enlightenment. This cross-border narrative demonstrates that even highly educated individuals can be ineffective within new ecological systems because of their inability to recognize the influence of their own microsystems. Analysis suggests that a network configuration of Bronfenbrenner’s model, rather than a nested one, more accurately reflects this linguistic landscape. Finally, Foucault’s heterotopia helps explain the misrecognition of community’s language practices. The essay subsequently offers advice to quest-takers, those seeking to understand /belong to a new culture.

Author Biography

Roger Anderson, Central State University

Dr. Roger Anderson received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University (Columbus) specializing in Foreign, Second, and Multilingual Education. He received his BA and MA in African Studies/French from the Ohio University (Athens), and an MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language from Middlebury College. Roger designs courses for French and Arabic learning, as well as other globally-themed courses that develop learners’ intercultural competence. Roger also enjoys welcoming newcomers to the U.S. and learning from diverse perspectives. In addition to teaching, Roger is an active member of the university’s Faculty Senate. Beyond the university, he also serves as an intercultural dialogue facilitator and member of several working groups advancing international and world language education. Roger’s research interests focus on aspects of second language acquisition (SLA), including investment, language ideology, and multilingualism. He also explores the complexities of international education, Arabic language pedagogy, la Francophonie, and service learning. In his free time, Roger loves hiking, biking, maintaining his second languages, and watching non-English language films. Email: randerson@centralstate.edu


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How to Cite

Anderson, R. (2023). “It’s All French Over There”: My Quest for Franco-Ontarians around Lake Erie. Journal of International Students, 13(4), 280–289. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v13i4.4739