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Is study abroad a necessary part of a language program?
Transcript of Is study abroad a necessary part of a language program?
Culture is concerned with the exchanging and production of meanings between the members of a group or society.
Language is a representational system, which allows it to sustain dialogue to enable participants to create a culture of shared experiences and understandings. Language includes the signs and symbols, images and objects both written and electronically produced to symbolise our ideas, thoughts and feelings to others.
It is through both culture and language that meaning is produced and circulated.
Language, culture and identity are interconnected
Languages convey much more than facts; they enable people to reach conclusions in different ways and are the standard bearers of cultures and histories.
With a study abroad experience, students are immersed in a new language, and forced to quickly adapt and learn how to communicate.
Innovative language teaching and cultural experiences can play an important role in gaining exposure to other cultures.
A study by Llanes and Munoz (2009) found that even a short abroad stay of 3–4 weeks produces significant gains in all areas studied: listening comprehension, oral fluency and accuracy. Furthermore, they were surprised to find that these improvement had been made even though the abroad participants did not take full advantage of the variety of opportunities that the context offered.
(Goodman, 2009; Kinginger, 2011; Llanes & Munoz, 2009)
Why include study abroad experiences?
Some other options for second language learners that allow students to benefit from some aspects of a study abroad program without leaving their classroom are:
A language teaching assistant who originates from a country that speaks the language the students are learning.
An immersion program where classes are run in both English and the second learnt language at the school.
(Goodman, 2009; Genesee, 1985)
Attendance in immersion or study abroad programs provides an enriched cultural and language experience that can rarely be found in schools in the home country.
Through attendance in another culture, shared meanings are developed as the participant’s spoken, written and visual communications skills are extended. The way that people use these mediums to create shared meanings and experiences allows the participants to roughly interpret the world the same way as other members of the culture.
Offering abroad experiences provides learners with responsibility in their own curriculum and gives them some power in determining the direction of their learning.
(Genesee, 1985; Graves, 2008; Hall, 1996; Hall, 1997; Kramsch, 1998)
Genesee, F. (1985) Second language earning through immersion: a review of U.S. programs. Review of educational research, 55(4), 541-561
Goodman, A. E. (2009) Language learning and study abroad: the path to global citizenship. The modern language journal, 93(4), 610-612.
Graves, K. (2008) The language curriculum: a social contextual perspective. Language teaching, 41, 147-181. doi: 10.1017/S0261444807004867
Hall, S. (1996) Introduction: who needs ‘identity’?, in Hall, S. & Du Gay, P. (Ed.) Questions of cultural identity. London: SAGE Publications, pp. 1-17.
Hall, S. (1997) Cultural identity and diasporas‟ in Woodward, K. (Ed.) Identity and
difference. London: SAGE Publications, pp. 51-59.
Hall, S. (1997) Introduction in Hall, S. (Ed.) Representation: cultural representations
and signifying practices. London: Sage in association with the Open University,
Kramsch, C. (1998) The relationship of language and culture in Kramsch (Ed.) Language and culture. New York: Oxford, pp. 3-14.
Llanes, A., & Munoz, C. (2009) A short stay abroad: Does it make a difference? Science Direct, 37, 353-365. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2009.03.001