Culture of Study Abroad


Plenary Talks

Martin Howard

(University College Cork)

Plenary Talk I: 8:45-9:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 15,2015.  

The relationship between time and linguistic development in study abroad: A case of cultural adaptation and/or other factors?

Abstract

Folk-belief in the role of study abroad is generally based on the premise that it offers instructed learners extensive exposure to the target language in a more intensive way than is possible in the foreign language classroom. While a substantial body of work now exists on the impact of such naturalistic exposure on various components of the learner’s linguistic repertoire in the second language (L2), only a limited number of studies have explored the role of time in impacting the emergence of any potential benefit of study abroad. In particular, the range of existing studies is based on study abroad periods of varying duration, making it difficult to draw any substantial conclusions on the role of time. Yet, time hypothetically should play a crucial role insofar as learners who spend a longer period of time in the target language community have more extensive opportunities to become socially and culturally integrated, with potential cumulative advantages for increased target language contact and usage through more developed social networks, as well as increased cultural sensitivity and appreciation. This talk presents results from a longitudinal project of L2 French that explores such issues surrounding the role of time in study abroad, through a comparison of findings at different time periods during a sojourn abroad and across different components of the learner’s L2 linguistic repertoire. In so doing, the aim is to consider how the impact of time may not be a uniform phenomenon, but may differ across different linguistic components, such as at a grammatical and sociolinguistic level. In particular, in the latter case, the learners’ development of different sociolinguistic features may be an attempt to identify with the target culture of their peers, while their grammatical development may reflect universal acquisition challenges. The talk concludes by discussing how other individual factors also play a role, such as proficiency level and socio-individual differences, making time a particularly complex issue in study abroad research.  

 

Biography

Dr. Martin Howard has played a central role in promoting study abroad research and is internationally commended for his scholarly commitment to the investigation of French language acquisition, including French in Canada. His research interests are in the area of Second Language Acquisition with special reference to Study Abroad, Tense-Aspect, and (Socio)linguistic Variation, and in Canadian Studies with special reference to the French language and bilingualism. He has published extensively in these areas, such as in the Modern Language Journal, Language, Interaction and Acquisition, Canadian Modern Language Review, and the Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics. He is co-author of The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Study Abroad Context (Multilingual Matters, 2009, with Vera Regan and Isabelle Lemée), and guest-editor of a special issue of the International Review of Applied Linguistics on Learning Context and Second Language Acquisition. A recipient of the Prix du Québec, Dr. Howard’s research has been funded by the Irish Research Council, two Canadian Government Faculty Awards, Enterprise Ireland, and the Strategic Research Fund at University College Cork. He has organized a number of international conferences, including a Language LearningRoundtable and the annual conference of the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA), as well as a number of special panels at international conferences in Europe, Canada, and Australia. He has served as President of the Association for Canadian Studies in Ireland and Secretary and Treasurer of the International Council for Canadian Studies. Dr. Howard is currently a Senior Lecturer in French and Director of the graduate program in Applied Linguistics at University College Cork, Ireland. He is also Vice-President of EuroSLA, Associate Editor of the International Journal of Canadian Studies, and member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. He is founding Editor of the journal Study Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education

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Carmen Pérez Vidal

(Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

Plenary Talk II: 2:10-2:55 p.m., Wednesday, July 15,2015.

Contrasting learning contexts, comparing learner progress.

Abstract

Undoubtedly different learning contexts offer different opportunities for practicing foreign language skills. What is less clear is the extent to which the impact of each specific learning context varies when considering the linguistic, psychosocial, and intercultural abilities used in communication. This plenary session discusses the findings of the “Study Abroad and Language AcquisitionProject” (SALA), which has examined the progress made by advanced-level English as a Foreign Language (EFL) university students, after experiencing two learning contexts (see Pérez Vidal, 2014). The contexts are: 1) at home (AH) formal instruction (FI); and 2) study abroad (SA), such as the ERASMUS academic sojourns in the target-language country, part of a general strategy toward multilingualism and multiculturalism that has been deployed in Europe for three decades. The skills analyzed in SALA include speaking, listening, writing, foreign accent, and grammar, as well as attitude, motivation, and intercultural awareness. Each context will be characterized from a second language acquisition (SLA) perspective, and its effects on the learners’ EFL progress will be uncovered.

Biography

Dr. Carmen Pérez Vidal has been researching the field of study abroad for over two decades. Her research interests include language acquisition, oral corpus development, oral and written competencies, interlanguage, advancedness, identity, and learning context and teaching method variation. Much of this work has been based on speakers of international languages (English, Russian, etc.) in Barcelona or Catalan and Spanish speakers from Barcelona. As coordinator of the research group “Language Acquisition from Multilingual Catalonia,” based at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, her group has studied language acquisition at different ages and in different contexts of learning, with English, Spanish, and Russian as the target language of learners with different L1s. Dr. Pérez Vidal is looking into the development of syntactic, lexical, discourse and phonetic competence, or its attrition, as well as into different individual factors such as age, aptitude, attitude, motivation, and cultural issues in language acquisition through formal instruction (FI), study abroad (SA), immersion, and content and language integrated learning (CLIL). She is also looking into matters related to linguistic policies and language planning. Dr. Pérez Vidal is editor of the influential volume Language Acquisition in Study Abroad and Formal Instruction Contexts (John Benjamins, 2014) and is currently a senior lecturer of English and language acquisition at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

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Rosamond Mitchell

(University of Southampton)

Plenary Talk III: 8:45-9:30 a.m., Thursday, July 16,2015.

Multilingualism in study abroad: Language practices, communities, and cultures.

Abstract

This presentation argues that traditional views of study abroad as a monocultural immersion are outdated and reconceptualizes study abroad as a multilingual arena with distinctive hybrid cultural practices. In this arena, sojourners engage in a complex set of language practices including use of home, target, and other languages in mixed modes; lingua franca usage of both English and other languages is routine (Behrent, 2006; Kalocsai, 2011). Home cultural practices are imported and modified; the host culture is viewed through a partly touristic gaze (Ehrenreich, 2006; Papatsiba, 2006). Through these mixed linguistic and cultural practices, study abroad participants build temporary communities and networks including both local peers and other international sojourners (Meier & Daniels, 2011; Messelink & ten Thije, 2012; Murphy-Lejeune, 2002); meanwhile, home networks and contacts are sustained through virtual means (Mitchell et al, 2014a). The presentation primarily draws on evidence from European Erasmus program settings, in particular the 2011-13 LANGSNAP project (Mitchell et al., 2014b). Particular attention is paid to how growth in self-efficacy and learner agency during study abroad contribute to sojourner’s ability to navigate the complexities of the multilingual setting to achieve personal language learning, social, and cultural goals (Benson et al., 2013; Dewey et al., 2014).

Biography

Dr. Rosamond Mitchell is one of the leading scholars globally in the field of applied linguistics. Her two main areas of research expertise are second language acquisition and foreign language classroom learning and teaching. In second language acquisition she has particular interests in the development of corpus-based approaches for the study of learner development, and has worked extensively on the development of learner corpora in French and Spanish. In foreign language education, she has particular research interest in classroom interaction and its role in language learning. These two areas of expertise come together in the research project “Languages and Social Networks Abroad” (LANGSNAP). This project, led by Dr. Mitchell and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom, is an unparalleled longitudinal study of the social networks, target language interaction, and second language acquisition of 75 students of Spanish and French during the year abroad in Spain, Mexico, or France. The specific aims of the project are to document the development of Modern Languages students’ knowledge and use of the target language over a 23-month period including a 9-month stay abroad, and to investigate learners’ evolving social networks while abroad, factors influencing type and amount of language engagement abroad, the kinds of learning opportunities afforded by target language interaction in a year abroad context, and the relationship between social networking, affect, social interaction, and language learning. Dr. Mitchell is the founding director of the prestigious and influential Centre for Applied Language Research at the University of Southampton and co-author of the much acclaimed and widely used book Second Language Learning Theories (Routledge, now in its third edition, with Florence Myles and Emma Marsden). Prior to her retirement in 2014, Dr. Mitchell was the head of the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Southampton, where she is now an Emeritus Professor.

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Jane Jackson

(Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Plenary Talk IV: 2:10-2:55 p.m., Thursday, July 16,2015.

Research-inspired interventions in study abroad programming

Abstract

As internationalization efforts intensify across the globe, university students now have more opportunities to participate in some form of education abroad (e.g., intensive summer language immersion, semester or year-long international exchange programs, service learning, internships). While educational international experience is widely assumed to be transformative, leading to significant gains in intercultural competence, L2 proficiency, and global-mindedness, researchers are discovering that a range of complex internal and external factors can lead to quite disparate outcomes. Consequently, a growing number of scholars are advocating research-based interventions in education abroad programs to optimize the potential of sojourns. After summarizing the findings of recent investigations of the language and intercultural learning of study abroad students from Greater China, this presentation centers on two credit-bearing, intercultural communication courses that have been developed to enhance the learning of education abroad students from a Hong Kong university. The course called “Intercultural Transitions”is designed for students with recent or current international experience, while “Intercultural Communication and Engagement Abroad”is an online course that has been developed for international exchange students who are abroad for the semester in which the course is offered. Both courses draw on experiential learning theory (Kolb, 1983; Passarelli & Kolb, 2012), the Intercultural Development Continuum (Hammer, 2012) an updated version of the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) (Bennett, 1993), and poststructuralist notions of identity change (Block, 2009; Norton, 2000). At the heart of these research-inspired, web-enhanced courses is structured, critical reflection and intercultural engagement. After providing an overview of both courses and the lessons learned from recent offerings, this presentation identifies the potential benefits and challenges of employing critical praxis to deepen and extend the intercultural development and second language learning of student sojourners and returnees. The presentation also underscores the importance of strengthening the research-teaching nexus to help achieve the aims of internationalization.

Biography

Dr. Jane Jackson is the leading scholarly author on foreign/second language study abroad and intercultural communication and development. Her research interests include intercultural communication, second language and identity, and education abroad. With the support of competitive research grants, she has been investigating the language and (inter)cultural learning, and “whole person” development of international exchange students and designing research-inspired interventions in education abroad learning. Dr. Jackson’s recent publications include Introducing Language and Intercultural Communication (Routledge, 2014), Intercultural Journeys: From Study to Residence Abroad (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010), and Language, Identity, and Study Abroad: Sociocultural Perspectives (Equinox, 2008), as well as editing The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication (Routledge, 2012). She has had teaching and research experience in tertiary institutions in many countries and regions including Canada, the United States, the Sultanate of Oman, Mainland China, and the Hong Kong SAR. Dr. Jackson is currently a Professor in the English Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she was the recipient of the 2013 Education Award.

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Gary Barkhuizen

(University of Auckland)

Plenary Talk V: 8:45-9:30 a.m., Friday, July 17,2015.  

Second language identity in study abroad contexts: Telling big and small stories.

Abstract

This presentation examines the construct of second language identity and its susceptibility to change in study abroad contexts. I draw on data from a large-scale narrative-based study of over 40 primary, secondary, and tertiary Hong Kong students participating in study abroad programs of varying lengths. In telling stories narrators make sense of their experiences and share their understandings and reflections with others. Approaches to analyzing narrative data range from broad content analyses of life histories or multiple interviews to detailed discourse analyses of excerpts of conversations, all of which pay attention to the micro context of telling and broader sociocultural discourses. This presentation demonstrates both a “big story” approach to analyzing biographical interview data and analyzes a number of “small stories” embedded in interviews with a New Zealand undergraduate student. “Small stories” tell of past or imagined events, as opposed to sociocultural discourses of “big” narratives of life histories compiled from multiple interviews and other ethnographic data collected over an extended period of time. Three main dimensions of second language identity were found: (1) identity-related aspects of second language proficiency, (2) linguistic self-concept, and (3) second language-mediated aspects of personal competence. Most of the students reported developments along all three dimensions, although there were variations among individuals that were related both to program duration and individual goals. Implications for language learning and identity in study abroad contexts will be discussed.

Biography

Dr. Gary Barkhuizen has played a leading role in the last decade in developing innovative methods for researching and analyzing study abroad participants as well as in promoting research on international language teacher education especially in the under-researched Australasian, East Asian, and Southern African contexts. Dr. Barkhuizen’s research and teaching interests are international language teacher education, learner language, sociolinguistics, and narrative inquiry, and he has published widely on these topics in a range of international journals. He is author of Analysing Learner Language (OUP, 2005, with Rod Ellis) and Second Language Identity in Narratives of Study Abroad (Palgrave, 2013, with Phil Benson, Peter Bodycott and Jill Brown). He was editor of Narrative Research in Applied Linguistics (CUP, 2013), of the journal Language Teaching Research, and has guest-edited volumes of TESOL Quarterly (2011) and the International Journal of the Sociology of Language (2013). Dr. Barkhuizen has taught ESL at high school (in Mmabatho, South Africa) and at college level (in New York), and has been involved in teacher education in South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. He has also conducted short-term teacher/researcher professional development seminars in various countries including Cambodia, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Mexico. He is currently Head of the School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His website can be found at: http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/people/gbar062

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