Being a Chinese student abroad is far from being a homogenous experience. We now know a little more about some individual Chinese students' experiences of learning French in France, and we observe that their social life and their professional perspectives have a significant impact upon their language learning. Our findings seem to reduce the impact of language classes in the language development of international students. For these students, language development appears to depend more on other types of activities, like following courses in their major subject in the target language, watching target language television programs or having friends who are native speakers of the target language than on their language classes. Our study thus brings support for a pedagogical approach such as content and language integrated learning (CLIL). It also emphasises the role of autonomy and emotions in successful or unsuccessful language learning, which may imply that we need to rethink the curricula for the training of language teachers along those lines. We further found that Chinese students studying abroad are also migrants who will develop their language skills more effectively if they integrate well in the host country. Universities in France - and elsewhere - might have to tackle this challenge and provide support, for example through the work of student associations or by designing language courses that facilitate this integration process. We also think that language teachers and institutions should be aware of the learners' extracurricular learning and living conditions, in order to conceive courses that will better suit their students' specific needs.
In this study, we focused on the influence of learners' beliefs, personalities, and emotions on language learning; external conditions, such as the quality of learning resources (type of native speakers, type of French media, etc.) were not dealt with in detail. However, thanks to our three interviewees' learning stories, we have discovered that what learners think, believe and feel is an important premise for what they do (see
Figure 3.2), and that the outcomes of their actions can reinforce their thoughts, beliefs and emotions.
Therefore, it is important for L2 language learning researchers to interview learners not just about what they do and how, but also about why they do it that way. Furthermore, interviews give researchers a privileged access to how people relate to their own learning experience and to the very personal ways in which cognition, action and emotion closely interact to make learning happen in each individual. In this study, relationships between learners' history and background and their identity as second language learners and users have not been dealt with in detail. Future research in that direction might shed further light on the reasons why learners, as individual persons, experience failure or success in language learning under comparable circumstances.
Figure 3.2 Representation of thinking-doing-feeling interaction in language learning
We address our warmest thanks to our colleagues, Alex Boulton and Marc Deneire of the Universite de Lorraine, who helped us to improve our academic written English, to the reviewers for their valuable remarks on the first version of this chapter, and to the editor for his patience.