Language Study Abroad: Expectations and Experiences
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
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Monash University