Language Study Abroad: Expectations and Experiences

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It has long been accepted that immersion in the target language through a period of language study abroad (LSA) is the best way for learners to gain fluency and confidence in language use. This paper considers the expectations and experiences of a number of LSA students from Hong Kong in a range of different host communities. Data comes from a series of focus group interviews in which students discuss their perceptions of language improvement, experiences with host language culture and community, home stay and the impact of LSA in terms of both language and personal development. Analysis focuses on differences between expectations and experiences and the reaction of students to dissonance between the two. Findings suggest that differences between expected and experienced can result in reflection, increased understanding and acceptance of diversity or in an intensified sense of the known and familiar as right and that which is different rejected as either wrong or irrelevant. The paper argues that the challenge for researchers is to document and understand the ways in which students cope with the challenges of LSA to ensure that the experience is one of positive challenge, growth and change for all participants in these programs.

Keywords: Language Study Abroad, English Language, Education
Stream: Literacy, Language, Multiliteracies; Languages Education and Second Language Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Jill Brown

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Monash University
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I teach in TESOL pre-service and post-graduate education programs, supervise student research at doctoral, masters and honors level and am also responsible for a number of international programs in TESOL. I have recently spent six months as an invited scholar at Hong Kong Institute of Education. Research interests include varying aspects of teacher work and identity, the needs of refugee ESL students with interrupted education in mainstream subject classes, the school experiences of refugee, migrant and indigenous children and the impact of language study abroad on students' linguistic, cultural and personal development.

Ref: L09P0100