Social Experiences and Linguistic Outcomes through Foreign Language Learners’ Short Stays Abroad: A Japanese Case
Date: 5 August 2019
University of Exeter
Doctor of Education in TESOL
It is broadly accepted that even short-term study abroad can lead to language gains, can provide gains in cognitive and affective development, and that longer-term programs and residence abroad may benefit the foreign language learners more. In the age of advanced IT, connectivity and accessibility, how crucial are intensive short stays ...
It is broadly accepted that even short-term study abroad can lead to language gains, can provide gains in cognitive and affective development, and that longer-term programs and residence abroad may benefit the foreign language learners more. In the age of advanced IT, connectivity and accessibility, how crucial are intensive short stays abroad? The current study, which takes place in higher education in Japan, answers in what way social experiences and networks can be associated with linguistic outcomes during short stays abroad. Learners of English as a foreign language spent between 3 and 5 weeks in universities in New Zealand or Australia. I investigated both linguistic gains before and after short programs and the community of learning a foreign language while overseas with others. In particular, using mixed methods data collection of pre- and post-tests, questionnaires, interviews, and observations, I examined the amount of contact the learners had with co-nationals, other foreign students, with locals, and with family and friends back home. I also delved into a few cases in which homestay environment appeared to influence their perceived success in benefiting from the short program. This paper shows that presenting linguistic gains for short-term study abroad is difficult, but that learners gain sociocultural skills, both physically and verbally, which shapes the way they construct their network of friendship both on-site and at home during short-stays abroad. It is my hope the findings help instructors and program coordinators plan or improve similar programs. It will also add to the existing knowledge on how short-stays abroad work or do not work for Japanese students seeking opportunities to learn and practice English. It also suggests ways how students and administrators can utilize IT and virtual social networks to connect with the target language community as well as their cohorts.
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