What is the impact of study abroad on L2 learning? A descriptive study of contexts, conditions, and outcomes

Peter Duncan Longcope, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of study abroad on second language (L2) learning. Previous research found that L2 learners show some immediate improvement after studying abroad, but this research did not look at long-term effects of study abroad on second language acquisition (SLA) nor did it include comparison groups of learners who did not travel abroad. This study also described the pre-study abroad EFL context, the study abroad context, and the post-study abroad EFL context in terms of the degree to which conditions that facilitate SLA (comprehensible input, input made comprehensible, production practice, comprehensible output, and negotiation for meaning) could be found. Data were collected over five months using interviews, picture-sequence tasks, and questionnaires. Interlanguage analysis looked for changes in grammatical accuracy, syntactic complexity, and fluency. Language learning context data looked at the degree to which conditions were available in the different contexts. Results indicated that study abroad had an immediate impact on learners' fluency but did not necessarily have an impact on their grammatical accuracy or syntactic complexity. Results further revealed that study abroad had no long-term impact on any aspect of interlanguage. Post hoc analysis suggested that the limited amount of English instruction during study abroad, the learners' level, and the methods of analysis might have influenced these results. It was also found that the study abroad context was more conducive to language learning than the pre-study abroad EFL context because learners had more contact with English and because certain conditions (input made comprehensible, comprehensible output, and negotiation for meaning) were more available on an interaction-by-interaction basis. Moreover, it was found that the pre-study abroad EFL context was slightly more conducive to language learning than the post-study abroad EFL context because certain conditions (comprehensible output, and negotiation for meaning) were more available on an interaction-by-interaction basis. These results suggest that administrators and teachers in study abroad programs should not assume learners will make expected gains simply because they are studying abroad. Furthermore, teachers in EFL contexts should find ways to increase learners' contact with English while trying to alter learners' interactional styles. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Education, Bilingual and Multicultural

Recommended Citation

Peter Duncan Longcope, "What is the impact of study abroad on L2 learning? A descriptive study of contexts, conditions, and outcomes" (January 1, 2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3087425.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3087425

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