ArticlePDF Available

Student Expectations, Motivations, Target Language Use, and Perceived Learning Progress in a Summer Study Abroad Program in Germany

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

This study investigated students' motives for participating in a short-term study abroad program in Germany, their expectations about learning progress at the beginning of the program, and their perceived progress in various language skills at the end of the program. Findings indicated that students' expectations were higher than their perceived progress in all skills with the exception of cultural learning. Correlations were found between reported frequency of listening in the L2 and gains in L2 listening proficiency, and between the goals “to be in contact with Germans” and “cultural enrichment” with expected gains in speaking and listening skills.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Student Expectations, Motivations, Target
Language Use, and Perceived Learning
Progress in a Summer Study Abroad Program
in Germany
Tina Badstübner
Peter Ecke
University of Arizona
Introduction
Study abroad has become an increasingly im-
portant component of the language and culture
curriculum inthepreparationofuniversity students
in the US. Many educators, administrators and stu-
dents share the view that language competence
and cultural understanding are acquired most ef-
fectively while living in the target language country.
With an increase in the number of students study-
ing abroad, university administrators have begun
to recognize the lack of research on learning out-
comes in study abroad programs. Some have de-
manded that research contribute to the develop-
ment of reliable learning outcome measures to bol-
ster the credibility and quality of study abroad
programs (Gillespie; Gray, Murdock, and Steb-
bins). SLA researchers have studied mostly the
effects of study abroad on language learning in
medium- and long-term (semester- or academic
year abroad) programs. Relatively few studies
have investigated short-term study abroad effects
although, according to Open Doors 2006, the
annual report of the Institute of International Edu-
cation, “the largest growth area is short-term
study”. The number of students in programs of less
than eight weeks has tripled over the last decade,
from 2.5% in 1994–1995 to 8% in 2004–2005.
Brochures for university intensive-language
study-abroad programs occasionally suggest that
students will make a “quantum leap in the oral pro-
ficiency” (Wilkinson 121) as a result of their immer-
sion in the target language and culture. However,
as research on second language (L2) acquisition in
study abroad contexts reveals, there is conflicting
evidence as to how effective study abroad is. The
present study attempts to contribute to our under-
standing of the impact of short-term study abroad
on students’ L2 acquisition and use. It investigates
students’ motives for participating in a one-month
summer program in Germany, their expectations
aboutlearningprogressatthebeginningof the pro-
gram, and their perceived progress in various lan-
guage skills at the end of the program. It also
ascertains whether goals, expectations, L2 use, and
self-reported progress in L2 skills correlate. Before
reporting the results of the study, we will review
previous research, particularly, studies about
short-termstudyabroad(i.e.,threetoeight weeks).
For comprehensive reviews see Freed (“Language
Learning,” “Overview”), Coleman, and Churchill
and DuFon.
Selected Issues and Findings
of Study Abroad Research
L2 Proficiency Gains
There is evidence that study abroad for longer
periods of time positively affects students’ oral pro-
ficiency (Brecht, Davidson, and Ginsberg; Dyson;
DeKeyser; Isabelli-García “Development”; Möhle
and Raupach; Segalowitz and Freed), listening
comprehension(Dyson),andvocabularydevelop-
ment (DeKeyser; Ife, Vives Boix and Meara; Milton
and Meara). However, writing skills (Freed, So and
Lazar) and grammatical accuracy (Howard; Möhle
and Raupach) seem to yield less or no noticeable
improvement during long-term study abroad.
41
Fewer data are available for short-term study
abroad. Positive effects of short-term study abroad
were reported by Milleret, who found that US stu-
dents who studied in Brazil for six weeks signifi-
cantlyimprovedtheirspeakingskillsmovingon av-
erage from an intermediate-mid to an intermedi-
ate-highlevelontheACTFLproficiencyscale. Oral
proficiency gains were also reported by Tschirner
for high school teachers of German who partici-
pated in a four-week intensive program in Ger-
many. By the end of the program, 80% of the par-
ticipants had moved up by one sublevel on the
ACTFL proficiency scale, e.g., from intermediate
high to advanced low. A study conducted by
Lennon, on the other hand, showed fewer or no
proficiency gains for German students of English in
a two-month stay in England. Cubillos and Rob-
bins investigated the linguistic and non-linguistic
gains of participants in a five-week training pro-
gram of US teachers of Spanish in Mexico. They
found “significant changes in the amount and ac-
curacy of participants’ written output” (28) com-
pared to performance before the program.
A number of studies used students’ self-assess-
ment of L2 proficiency and progress as indicators
for short-term study abroad effects. Allen and
Herron examined students’ linguistic and affective
outcomes following a summer program in Paris.
Students reported an enhanced self-confidence in
theirL2use,adecreaseinnon-classroomlanguage
anxiety, and significant improvements in oral and
listening skills in French. Kaplan, also using survey
data, found that listening and reading comprehen-
sion were the skills in which students felt to have
made the most progress. Mendelson, in a study of
short-term and long-term study abroad, suggested
that for the short-term students, “listening repre-
sented their ‘most improved’ skill (55%), followed
by speaking (26%), writing (19%), and reading
(0%)” (53). Furthermore, her study revealed that
the students’ linguistic outcomes did not match the
expectations they expressed at the beginning of the
study abroad program. In a recent study, Adams
analyzed self-assessments of linguistic gains col-
lected from US students in two- or four-month pro-
grams in the Dominican Republic, France, Brazil,
Spain, and Austria. Her findings also show that stu-
dents perceived their listening to have improved
the most, followed by overall proficiency, speaking
and vocabulary, pronunciation, reading, and writ-
ing and grammar.
Pellegrino notes that a majority of study-
abroadresearchis “highly product-oriented, focus-
ing on measurable advances students make in lan-
guage proficiency and linguistic knowledge while
abroad” (91) and that relatively little research con-
siders the learners’ own perspectives and experi-
ences. She highlights the importance of such re-
search as it can provide unique insights into stu-
dents’ attitudes, expectations, L2 learning and use
“in ways that observations and quantifiable scales
couldnot”(92).Thereisconsiderableresearch evi-
dence showing that self-assessment can be a reli-
able instrument (Adams; Fishman and Cooper;
Ikeguchi) in spite of the finding that less experi-
enced learners may overestimate their skills some-
what (Heilenman). Although the additional use of
proficiency tests would have been desirable, we
opted to use self-assessment questionnaires in the
present study because they are relatively easy to
administer, reliable, and representative of stu-
dents’ perceptions, which in the end, determine a
study abroad program’s success and survival, per-
haps more so than proficiency tests.
Target Language Use
Isabelli-García (“Study Abroad”) suggested
that “contact with the host culture outside of the
classroom and attitudes towards the host culture
can be related to the development of oral commu-
nication skills and accuracy” (232). According to
Mendelson, out-of-class contact with the L2, both
interactive (e.g., informal conversations with na-
tive speakers) and non-interactive (e.g., going to
the movies) “is often lauded but rarely put to seri-
ous investigation” (44). Using OPI and self-assess-
ment, Mendelson investigated the relation be-
tween students’ oral proficiency levels and the
amountofout-of-classL2use.Herparticipantsina
four-week summer program in Spain reportedly
used the L2 mostly in listening (67%), followed by
speaking (35%), writing (18%), and reading
(15%). However, Mendelson found no direct rela-
tionship between the students’ reported L2 contact
hours and their gains in oral proficiency. Similarly
Ginsberg and Miller did not find a correlation be-
tween how much students interacted with native
speakers and measured L2 proficiency gains.
Goals and Motives for Study Abroad
Allen and Herron inquired about students’ rea-
sons and motives for participation in a summer
study program in Paris. They found that students
considered integrative motives most important for
42 UP 42.1 (Spring 2009)
study abroad participation, e.g., meeting different
kindsofpeople,andgettingto know the French. In-
strumental motives, such as receiving training or
earning a degree, were considered less important.
Interestingly, the authors also noted that “whereas
participants called ‘getting to know the French’ an
important motivation for participation, they did
not appear to invest great amounts of out-of-class
time in establishing contacts with target culture
members” (Allen and Herron, 382). Kitsantas in-
vestigated the role played by 232 students’ goals in
the development of “cross-cultural skills” and
“global understanding” while abroad and found
that goals did influence the magnitude of gains in
both areas. Participants reported three main rea-
sons for joining study abroad programs: to en-
hance their cross-cultural skills, to become more
proficient in the language, and to socialize.
In sum, our review of research suggests that sig-
nificant proficiency gains are possible not only in
longer-term study abroad programs, but also in
short-term study abroad stays, with more signifi-
cant gains in listening and speaking skills than
grammar and writing development. Students often
have high expectations with respect to study
abroad outcomes, and frequently participate in the
programs for integrative reasons; that is, they want
to get to know people and participate in the target
culture. In reality, such integration can prove diffi-
cult given the common living and studying ar-
rangements of study abroad programs in which
Americans live primarily among themselves (Frye
and Garza).
Research Questions
Thepresentstudyseeksto contribute to our un-
derstanding of short-term study abroad effects by
investigating the following questions:
1. What are the participants’ goals and motives
for enrolling in a one-month summer study
program and how do they relate to their ex-
pected proficiency gains, perceived improve-
ment, and amount of L2 use?
2. What are participants’ expectations with re-
spect to language skill development and cul-
turelearningatthe beginning of theprogram?
3. What are participants’ ratings of perceived
language skill development and culture learn-
ing at the end of the program, and how do
these compare and correlate with the reported
expectationsatthe beginning of theprogram?
4. How does the participants’ reported fre-
quency of L2 use in listening, speaking, read-
ing and writing (outside of class) relate to their
reported progress in these language skills?
Method and Procedure
Setting
The program under investigation was a one-
month summer-study program in the city of Leip-
zig, Germany, offered by the University of Arizona,
a large public and research university, in collabora-
tion with the Herder-Institute of the University of
Leipzig. To enroll in the program, participating stu-
dents were required to have completed a minimum
of two semesters of college German or equivalent.
Two courses were offered: one for students in their
second year, and one for students in their third year
of study and above. Students received four hours
of language instruction from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
five days a week from teachers of the home institu-
tion. Instruction in both courses addressed the de-
velopment of the four skills and included reading a
book and articles, watching and discussing videos,
writing daily journals, discussions, role plays, pre-
sentations, and some instruction in grammar. Par-
ticipants were housed in single rooms of apartment
units in student dorms. Most participants shared
the apartment unit (kitchen and bathroom) with
oneortwoGermanstudents.Toprovide additional
opportunities for interaction with native speakers,
each participant received a German tandem part-
ner interested in learning English and helping
American students learn German. On average, the
tandem partners met twice per week to practice
German and English with each other. In addition to
classroom instruction, the program offered after-
noon activities, two day trips, and a weekend ex-
cursion to sites of historical and cultural interest.
Participants
The participants constituted a sample of con-
venience, namely 30 students who took part in the
2006 Summer Study-in-Leipzig-Germany Pro-
gram. Seven of the participants had to be excluded
from the analyses because they provided incom-
pletedata.From theremaining23participants,five
students were enrolled in the second-year course,
and 18 students were enrolled in the third-year
course. All participants (14 females and 9 males)
BADSTÜBNER/ECKE: STUDY ABROAD 43
were undergraduate students (1 freshman, 9 ju-
niors, 12 seniors, 1 other). Their average age was
22.6 years. Students declared a widevariety of ma-
jorandminorareasofstudy.Five participants were
pursuingaGermanmajor and 12 aGermanminor.
Instruments
Datawereelicitedthrough two sets of question-
naires based on the Language Contact Profile
(Freed et al. “Contact Profile”).1The first question-
naire, administered at the beginning of the pro-
gram, included questions regarding the students’
backgrounds, their goals and motives for participa-
tion in the program, and their expectations with re-
gard to language and culture learning. Participants
were asked to indicate how important nine poten-
tial goals and motives were for them on a six-point
Likert-scale (seeTable 1 below).ExpectedL2profi-
ciencygainsintheareas of speaking, listening,writ-
ing, reading, cultural understanding, grammar,
and vocabulary were rated on another six-point
scale (see Table 2). The second questionnaire was
given at the end of the program and asked students
to rate gains in the seven proficiency areas de-
scribed in the pre-program questionnaire on the
same six-point scale. In addition, students had to
provide estimates on how frequently they used
German outside of class. They had to indicate how
many days a week and how many hours a day they
spent speaking, reading, listening, and writing in
German in addition to the 20 hours of weekly
course instruction in German.
Data Analysis
We conducted repeated-measures analyses of
variance (ANOVA) to test whether participants ex-
pected different gains for speaking, listening, writ-
ing, reading, cultural understanding, grammar,
and vocabulary at the beginning of the program,
and whether they perceived different progress in
these areas at the end of the program. In another
ANOVA, we compared students’ expectations
about proficiency gains (of all skills combined) at
the outset of the program with the perceived gains
they reported at the end of the program, that is to
say, whether general expectations were higher or
lower compared to the actual perceived progress
later. In post-hoc analyses, we tested for potential
differences between expected gains and actual
improvement in each of the seven areas, e.g.,
whether participants’ expectations about progress
in speaking was any different from their reported
progress in speaking at the end of the program. A
final ANOVA was conducted to test whether partic-
ipants’ frequency of use of speaking, listening, writ-
ing, and reading in German outside of class dif-
fered significantly from skill to skill, e.g., if partici-
pants devoted more time to reading in German
compared to writing in German. Lastly, Pearson
correlation coefficients were calculated for the stu-
dents’ expected proficiency gains, their perceived
improvement in speaking, reading, listening, and
writing, their reported L2 use in these areas, and
their goals in order to determine whether there was
any relation between these measures.
Results
Goals and Motives
Table 1 shows how participants on average
rated the importance of nine goals and motives for
their participation in the study abroad program.
The most important goal for the participants
was “to study German,” followed by the desire “to
travel”, and “to be in contact with Germans” and
“for cultural enrichment.” “To get six course cred-
its”,“tofindnewfriends from home university”,“to
party” and “to be away from home” received me-
dium ratings, whereas “to conduct a research pro-
ject” was rated the lowest. Significant correlations
were found between the goal “to be in contact with
Germans” and expected gains in speaking (r(19) =
.765, p < .001) and listening skills (r(19) = .617, p
= .005) and between the goal “for cultural enrich-
ment” and expected gains in speaking (r(19) =
.635, p < .005) and listening skills (r(19) = .660, p
<.005).Nocorrelationswere found betweengoals
and the amounts of L2 use.
44 UP 42.1 (Spring 2009)
1The original questionnaire is available in Freed
et al. The modified version can be requested from
the authors.
Table 1. Participants’ Ratings of Goals and
Motives for Study Abroad
Goals and Motives Mean
Rating
To study German 5.6
To travel 5.4
To be away from home 3.1
To party 3.2
To get six course credits 4.0
To be in contact with Germans 5.3
To conduct a research project 1.8
For cultural enrichment 5.3
To find new friends from home
university 3.6
Scale: 1–6, 1=not important, 6=very important
Expected Gains and Perceived Improvement
Table 2 illustratestheproficiencygainsthat par-
ticipants expected at the beginning of the program
and the improvements they reported at the end of
the program.
Table 2. Participants’ Expected Gains and
Perceived Improvement
Language
Skill /
Area
Mean
Expected
Gains
Mean
Per-
ceived
Improve-
ment
Mean
Difference
between
Expected
Gains and
Improve-
ment
Speaking 5.5 4.2 1.3
Listening 5.7 4.6 1.1
Writing 4.9 3.8 1.1
Reading 5.0 4.3 0.7
Culture 5.4 5.0 0.4
Grammar 5.0 3.3 1.7
Vocabulary 5.5 4.4 1.1
All Areas 5.3 4.2 1.1
Scale 1–6: 1=none, 6=very much
According to the pre-program data, partici-
pants’ mean expected gains were highest for listen-
ing, followed by speaking, vocabulary, and cultural
understanding. They expected somewhat less
progress in reading, grammar, and writing. In the
end-of-program questionnaire, participants re-
ported to have improved mostly in their cultural
understanding, followed by listening, vocabulary
growth, reading, and speaking. The lowest rates of
improvement were reported for writing and gram-
mar.Thedatafor students’ expected gainsandper-
ceived improvement in the seven skills were ana-
lyzed with a repeated-measures ANOVA. The
analysis showed a statistically significant difference
for the factor language skill with the seven levels
speaking, listening, writing, reading, cultural un-
derstanding, grammar, and vocabulary (F(3.3,
71.8) = 8.78, p < .001) and for the factor time
(program start and program end) (F(1,22) =
42.92, p < .001). The interaction between the two
factors was also significant (F(4.2,92.8) = 4.00, p
= .004). Due to violations of sphericity, the results
for the main effect of language skill and the interac-
tion of language skill and time had to be adjusted
with the Greenhouse-Geisser correction. These
statistical results indicate that the means of ex-
pected gains as well as perceived improvement in
the various skills differed significantly. Moreover,
mean expected gains were different from mean im-
provements. The interaction between the two fac-
tors indicates that the differences between the lan-
guage skill gains in the pre-program questionnaire
were also different from the perceived improve-
ments of skills in the program-end questionnaire.
The difference between the students’ expectations
and their perceived improvements for each lan-
guage skill was analyzed through post-hoc analy-
ses. Due to the number of pairwise comparisons
conducted, the p-level was adjusted with the
Bonferroni method which reduced the p-level at
which statistical results are significant to p = .007.
Significant differences were found in the areas of
speaking (F(1,22) = 32.04, p < .001), reading
(F(1,22) = 9.85, p = .005), listening (F(1,22) =
15.76, p = .001), writing (F(1,22) = 18.78, p <
.001), grammar (F(1,22) = 47.27, p < .001), and
vocabulary (F(1,22) = 19.75, p < .001). This
shows that the students’ perceived improvements
in these areas fell short of their expectations. Only
in the area of cultural understanding was the differ-
ence between expectations and improvements sta-
tisticallynotsignificant(F(1,22) = 1.49, p>.05).
Target Language Use
In the end-of-program questionnaires, partici-
pants also provided estimates of how frequently
they were using German outside of class. The
BADSTÜBNER/ECKE: STUDY ABROAD 45
mean numbers of reported use of speaking, listen-
ing, reading and writing in the L2 (in hours per
week) are presented in the figure below.
In order to learn whether there were statistically
significant differences in the frequency of use of the
four language skills, the data were analyzed with a
repeated-measures ANOVA. Due to incomplete
data, four participants had to be excluded from the
analysis. The ANOVA revealed significant differ-
ences between students’ reported use of the L2 in
the four skills (F(1.9,33.3) = 21.06, p < .001). Partic-
ipants reported to have spent the greatest amount of
out-of-class time listening to German (32.9 hours),
followed by speaking (12.6 hours) and reported to
have devoted considerably less time to reading (7.2
hours)andwriting(5.8hours).Toinvestigatethe rela-
tion between the students’ expected gains, perceived
improvement, and their self-reported L2 use,
bivariate correlations were computed. The only
statistically significant correlation was found be-
tween the perceived improvement in listening and
the self-reported amount of listening (r(19) = .608,
p = .006). The positive correlation indicates that
those participants who spent more time listening to
German also perceived their improvement in lis-
tening comprehension to be greater.
In addition to an overall estimate of L2 use out-
side of class, students had to provide detailed ac-
counts of how much time they spent on a number
of specific activities that involved speaking, listen-
ing,writing,andreadingin German.With regard to
speaking in the L2 outside of class, students indi-
cated that they most frequently used German in ex-
tensive conversations with their tandem partner
(an average of 5.7 hours per week), for superficial
or brief exchanges with their roommate or ac-
quaintances in the dorm (5 hours), and to obtain
directions or information (4.5 hours). With respect
tolistening,studentsreportedthattheymostly tried
to catch other people’s conversations in German
(15.4 hours), listen to songs (6.9 hours) or watch
TVandlistentothe radio (4.5 hours).Onlyanaver-
ageof1.5hoursper week was spentwatchingmov-
ies. The majority of time spent on writing
(8.4 hours) was used to complete home-
work assignments. Smaller amounts of
time were used to write personal notes and
letters (1.5 hours) and emails (1.4 hours).
A minor 0.2 hours were spent on filling in
forms or questionnaires. Students’ read
mostly schedules, announcements, and
menus (8.3 hours) and less frequently
emails (2.9 hours), novels (1.5 hours),
newspapers (1.2 hours), and magazines
(0.8 hours).
Discussion
We investigated a group of 23 US stu-
dents’ motives, expected L2 proficiency
gains, L2 use, and perceived L2 learning
progress in a one-month summer study
program in Germany; we wanted to learn why stu-
dents participated in the program, what they ex-
pected with respect to their language skill develop-
ment and culture learning at the beginning of the
program, and how much they thought they had
progressed in language and culture learning at the
end of the program. We analyzed whether ex-
pected gains and reported progress were compara-
ble and whether these correlated with each other
and with participants’ goals and their reported fre-
quency of listening, speaking, reading, and writing
in German outside of class.
Goals and Motives
“To study German,” “to travel,” “to be in con-
tact with Germans,” and “cultural enrichment”
were the motives that students rated highest for
participating in this summer program. These re-
sults coincide with Allen and Herron’s findings that
the most frequently reported reasons for participat-
ing in study abroad are integrative in nature. More
instrumentally-oriented goals, such as “to get six
course credits” and “to conduct a research project”
received lower ratings in our study. Significant cor-
46 UP 42.1 (Spring 2009)
Figure. Mean Numbers of Participants’
Reported L2 Use
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Speaking Listening Writing Reading
Language Skills
Hours per Week
relations were found between students’ ratings of
thegoals“tobeincontactwith Germans” and “cul-
tural enrichment” and the rates of expected gains
for speaking and listening. These findings suggest
that the students who set as goals interacting with
German native speakers and learning about the
culture, also expect high improvement rates in lis-
tening and speaking, two skills that are necessary
for interaction and integration in the culture. The
motives “to be in contact with Germans”, “to
travel” and “cultural enrichment” are aspects that
setstudyabroadapartfromstudy in the home coun-
try where native speaker contacts and cultural expe-
riences are quite limited. In promoting and advertis-
ing a study abroad program, teachers and adminis-
trators may want to stress these aspects and illustrate
what the program can offer in terms of cultural expe-
riences, travel, and contact opportunities with Ger-
mans in addition to a rigorous program of study.
Expected Proficiency Gains and
Perceived Improvement
Participants’ expected gains at the beginning of
the program were quite high overall. They were
highest for listening followed by speaking and vo-
cabulary, and cultural enrichment. Somewhat
lower gains were expected for reading, grammar,
and writing. The high expected gains for listening
and speaking may stem from word-of-mouth,
which generally lauds studying and living abroad
as a panacea for achieving oral proficiency in the
L2. Although the program under investigation did
not make any explicit promises with regard to lan-
guage proficiency gains, students might still have
been influenced by the widely–held belief that
study abroad will inevitably lead to fluency devel-
opment in the L2.
Students’ reports of perceived L2 learning
progress at the end of the program showed that
participants felttohaveimprovedmostly in cultural
understanding, followed by listening, vocabulary,
reading, and speaking (in that order). The lowest
progress was reported for writing and grammar.
Low progress in grammatical accuracy and writing
were also found by Lennon and Meara and are fre-
quently attributed to the fact that L2 writing and
grammar are simply not priorities while abroad.
The high improvement rate in listening corrobo-
rates findings reported by Kaplan, Meara, and Ad-
ams whose study abroad participants also per-
ceived their listening skills to have improved the
most. However, Fraser cautioned that it may be
easier for students to perceive progress in aural
skills than in reading, writing, or grammar.
Overall, perceived improvement received a
significantly lower rate (4.2) compared to expected
gains (5.3 out of 6 points). Perceived improvement
was rated lower for all but one area in comparison
with expected gains. The only area in which im-
provement did not fall short of expected gains was
cultural understanding. A similar discrepancy be-
tweenexpectedproficiency gains and perceivedL2
improvement was reported by Mendelson. High
and possibly unrealistic expectations for L2 devel-
opment in short-term study abroad stays may be a
common phenomenon. One implication of this
finding is that administrators and teachers may want
to discuss with students the potential and limits of
study abroad programs in pre-departure meetings.
Asking students to share and discuss their motives
and goals may help them to form realistic expecta-
tions and set achievable goals for study abroad
which in turn may help to prevent feelings of disap-
pointment or failure at the end of the program.
Target Language Use
Students reportedly spent the greatest amount
of out-of-class time listening to German followed
by speaking in German. Smaller amounts were re-
ported for reading and writing in the L2. These re-
sults are similar to Mendelson’s finding with partici-
pants of a study abroad program in Spain. Correla-
tion analyses of students’ self-reported L2 use,
expected gains, and perceived improvement re-
vealed that only frequency of listening and per-
ceived improvement in listening correlated, i.e.,
participants who felt that they had spent more time
listening in the L2 also perceived their progress in
listening to be greater. The estimated frequency of
speaking, reading and writing, however, did not
correlate with reported progress in these skills. Nei-
therMendelsonnorGinsbergand Miller found are-
lationship between the students’ reported L2 con-
tact hours and their gains in oral proficiency. Our
findings lend support to Ginsberg and Miller’s con-
clusion that a great amount of contact with native
speakers alone does not suffice but that there is a
complex interplay of different factors leading to
proficiency gains, one of them being quality and
depth of the interaction with native speakers.
It should be noted that students’ reported
amount of L2 use varied considerably. This may
simply suggest that some students used German
more than others, but it may also be an indication
BADSTÜBNER/ECKE: STUDY ABROAD 47
that one student’s perception of time may be differ-
ent from that of another student and that retro-
spective estimates of L2 use may have limitations.
As Kaplan cautioned, “there’s always the problem
of how well categories reflect what learners actually
do” (298). A better way of eliciting data on L2 use
may be to have students report on their L2 use daily,
perhaps in a journal, instead of having them report
on their L2 use at the very end of the program.
Overall, participants of the present study not
only reported engaging frequently in listening and
speaking activities outside of class, they also re-
ported in the end-of-program questionnaire that
they highly valued opportunities for interaction with
native speakers, such as the tandem program, op-
portunities that may be provided best in a study
abroad context. Isabelli-García’s (“Study Abroad”)
argument that programs could benefit from provid-
ing students with opportunities to create social net-
works while studying abroad is relevant here. A tan-
dem program, as the one integrated in the program
under investigation, may help to provide students
withsuchanopportunity.Laubschernotedthatastu-
dent’s success in making just one acquaintance can
impact the out-of-class experience tremendously as
this contact may create further opportunities for get-
ting to know other native speakers. Helping students
to establish these kinds of contact with native speak-
ers should be a goal for program organizers.
Conclusion
Thisstudyinvestigatedstudents’goals and mo-
tives for participation in a one-month summer
study abroad program in Germany; it investigated
participants’ expectations about their learning
progress in various language skills at the outset of
the program and compared and correlated these
with students’ self-assessed progress in L2 skills at
the end of the program, their self-reported fre-
quency of L2 use, and their goals for participating
in the program. Findings indicated that students’
overall expectations were significantly higher than
their perceived progress in all skills with the excep-
tion of cultural learning in which participants re-
ported the greatest gains. In addition, correlations
were found between reported frequency of L2 lis-
teningandgainsinL2 listening proficiency,andbe-
tween the goals “to be in contact with Germans”
and “cultural enrichment” with expected gains in
speaking and listening skills.
Itisimportanttorecognizethelimitationsof this
study. A relatively small sample size and the focus
on only one program hardly allow for generaliza-
tions to be made. The present study also did not at-
tempt to compare study abroad effects with effects
of comparable immersion programs in the stu-
dents’ home country. However, as one of the few
investigations of short-term study abroad in Ger-
many, this study may help generate and test hy-
potheses for future research. Future investigations
may benefit from complementing quantitative
analyses of self-report data with actual proficiency
testing and qualitative analyses (e.g., based on in-
terviews) to learn more about expected, perceived,
and actual L2 use and proficiency development. It
is also hoped that this study’s findings, based on
students’predictionandretrospection,might be in-
formative for study abroad administrators and
teachers who are rethinking and fine-tuning as-
pects of their study abroad program to create an
optimal environment for L2 learning and a lasting
cultural experience for their students.
Works Cited
Adams, Rebecca. “Language Learning Strategies in the
Study Abroad Context.” Language Learners in Study
Abroad Contexts. Ed. Margaret A. DuFon and Eton
Churchill. Clevedon, GB: Multilingual Matters, 2006.
259–92.
Allen, Heather Willis, and Carol Herron. “A Mixed-
Methodology Investigation of the Linguistic and Affec-
tive Outcomes of Summer Study Abroad.” Foreign Lan-
guage Annals 36.3 (2003): 370–85.
Brecht, Richard D., Dan E. Davidson, and Ralph B.
Ginsberg. Predictors of foreign language gain during
study abroad. Second Language Acquisition in a Study
Abroad Context. Ed. Barbara F. Freed. Amsterdam:
John Benjamins, 1993. 37–66.
Churchill, Eton, and Margaret A. DuFon. “Evolving Threads
in Study Abroad Research.” Language Learners in
Study Abroad Contexts. Eds. Margaret A. DuFon and
Eton Churchill. Clevedon, GB: Multilingual Matters,
2006. 1–27.
Coleman, James A. Studying Languages: A Survey of Brit-
ish and European Students. The Proficiency, Back-
ground, Attitudes and Motivations of Students of Foreign
Languages in the United Kingdom and Europe. London:
Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Re-
search, 1996.
Cubillos, Jorge H., and Diana E. Robbins. “Transcending
Boundaries: The Benefits of Short-Term Study Abroad
Experiences for Foreign Language Teachers. NECTFL
Review 54 (2004): 24–34.
DeKeyser, Robert M. “Foreign Language Development
during a Semester Abroad. Foreign Language Acquisi-
tion Research and the Classroom. Ed. Barbara F. Freed.
48 UP 42.1 (Spring 2009)
Lexington, MA: DC Heath, 1991. 104–19.
Dyson, Peter. The Year Abroad. Report for the Central Bu-
reau for Educational Visits and Exchanges. Oxford Uni-
versity Language Teaching Centre, 1988.
Fishman, Joshua A., and Robert L. Cooper. “Alternative
Measures of Bilingualism.” Journal of Verbal Learning
and Verbal Behavior 8 (1969): 276–82.
Fraser, Catherine C. “Study Abroad: An Attempt to Measure
the Gains.” German as a Foreign Language Journal 1
(2002). 23 December 2006 «http://www.gfl-journal.de/
1-2002/ fraser.html».
Freed, Barbara F. “Language Learning and Study Abroad.”
Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Con-
text. Ed. Barbara F. Freed. Amsterdam: John Benjamins,
1995. 3–33.
———. “An Overview of Issues and Research in Language
Learning in a Study Abroad Setting.” Frontiers: The In-
terdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad IV (1998): 31–
60.
Freed, Barbara. F., Dan P. Dewey, Norman Segalowitz, and
Randall Halter. “The Language Contact Profile.” Studies
in Second Language Acquisition 26.2 (2004): 349–56.
Freed, Barbara, Sufumi So, and Nicole A. L azar. “L anguage
Learning Abroad: How Do Gains in Written Fluency
Compare with Gains in Oral Fluency in French as a Sec-
ond Language?” ADFL Bulletin 34.3 (2003): 34–40.
Frye, Robert, and Thomas J. Garza. “Authentic Contact
with Native Speech and Culture at Home and Abroad.”
Teaching Languages in College: Curriculum and Con-
tent. Ed. W. M. Rivers. Lincoln-wood: NTC Publishing,
1992. 225–43.
Gillespie, Joan. “Colleges Need Better Ways to Assess
Study-Abroad Programs.” Chronicle of Higher Educa-
tion 48 (43) (2002): 13, 20.
Ginsberg, Ralph B., and Laura Miller. “What Do They Do?
Activities of Students during Study Abroad.” Language
Policy and Pedagogy. Ed. R. Lambert. Philadelphia:
John Benjamins, 2000. 237–60.
Gray, Kimberly S., Gwendolyn K. Murdock, and Chad D.
Stebbins. “Assessing Study Abroad’s Effect on an Inter-
national Mission.” Change 34 (2002): 44–52.
Heilenman, L. Kathy. “Self-Assessment of Second Lan-
guage Ability: The Role of Response Effects.” Language
Testing 7 (1990): 174–201.
Howard, Martin. “The Effects of Study Abroad on the L2
Learners’ Structural Skills: Evidence from Advanced
Learners of French.” EuroSLA Yearbook 1 (2001):
123–41.
Ife, Anne, Gemma Vives Boix, and Paul Meara. “The Im-
pact of Study Abroad on the Vocabulary Development
of Different Proficiency Groups.” Spanish Applied Lin-
guistics 4.1 (2000): 55–84.
Ikeguchi, Cecilia B. “Self-Assessment and ESL Competence
of Japanese Returnees.” Washington DC: ERIC Clear-
inghouse on Higher Education, 1996. ERIC,
ED399798.
Institute of International Education. Open Doors 2006: Re-
port on International Educational Exchange. Accessed
on December 1, 2007, at «http://opendoors.iienet-
work.org/».
Isabelli-García, Christina L. “Development of Oral Commu-
nication Skills Abroad.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary
Journal of Study Abroad IX (2003): 149–73.
———. “Study Abroad Social Networks, Motivation and
Attitudes: Implications for Second Language Acquisi-
tion.” Language Learners in Study Abroad Contexts.
Eds. M. DuFon and E. Churchill. Clevedon, UK: Multilin-
gual Matters, 2006. 231–58.
Kaplan, Marsha A. “French in the Community: A Survey of
Language Use Abroad.” The French Review 63.2
(1989): 290–301.
Kitsantas, Anastasia. “Studying Abroad: The Role of Col-
lege Students’ Goals on the Development of
Cross-Cultural Skills and Global Understanding.” Col-
lege Student Journal 48.2 (2004): 441–52.
Laubscher, Michael R. Encounters with Difference: Student
Perceptions of the Role of Out-of –Class Experiences in
Education Abroad. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,
1994.
Lennon, Paul. “Introspection and Intentionality in Ad-
vanced Second-Language Acquisition.” Language
Learning 3.3 (1989): 375–96.
Meara, Paul. “The Year Abroad and its Effects.” Language
Learning Journal 10 (1994): 32–38.
Mendelson, Vija G. “Hindsight is 20/20: Student Perspec-
tives of Language Learning and the Study Abroad Expe-
rience.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study
Abroad X (2004): 43–63.
Milleret, Margo. “Evaluation and the Summer Language
Program Abroad: A Review Essay.” The Modern Lan-
guage Journal 74.4 (1990): 483–88.
Milton, James, and Paul Meara. “How Periods Abroad Af-
fect Vocabulary Growth in a Foreign Language.” Review
of Applied Linguistics 107 (1995): 17–34.
Möhle, Dorothea, and Manfred Raupach. Planen in der
Fremdsprache. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1983.
Pellegrino, Valerie A. “Student Perspectives in Language
Learning in a Study Abroad Context.” Frontiers: The In-
terdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad IV (1998):
91–120.
Segalowitz, Norman, and Barbara F. Freed. “Context, Con-
tact, and Cognition in Oral Fluency Acquisition:
Learning Spanish at Home and Study Abroad Con-
texts.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition 12.2
(2004): 173–99.
Tschirner, Erwin. “The Development of Oral Proficiency in a
Four-Week Intensive Immersion Program in Germany.”
Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, 40.2 (2007):
111–17.
Wilkinson, Sharon. “On the Nature of Immersion during
Study Abroad: Some Participant Perspectives.” Fron-
tiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad IV
(1998): 121–38.
BADSTÜBNER/ECKE: STUDY ABROAD 49
... There are many reasons that motivate students to study in another country including the desire to learn a non-native language, to travel, to increase job opportunities, to be in contact with native-speakers of the L2, to personally and culturally enrich oneself, to gain course credit, to make new friends, among others (Badstübner & Ecke, 2009;Castañeda & Zirger, 2011). ...
... 277). As a result, recent studies have shown increased interest in a number of issues including language use and proficiency development (Badstübner & Ecke, 2009;Mendelson, 2004;Schwieter & Kunert, 2012;Smith, Giraud-Carrier, Dewey, Ring, & Goreet, 2011) and personal development such as sensitivity to language and cultural issues (Schwieter & Kunert;Shively, 2010). Other studies have begun to investigate language socialization in general, which is argued to be a complex process of language practice that is affected by several variables including motivation, attitudes, interlocutor attributes, among others (Isabelli-García, 2006). ...
... Cependant, malgré cette ouverture à l'international, il n'y a encore que peu d'étudiants français qui partent au Japon, qui représentent 0,5% des étudiants étrangers au Japon. À l'inverse, Badstübner et Ecke (2009) suggèrent que rester dans son propre pays limite la quantité de communication interactionnelle dans la langue cible. L'importance d'un programme d'études à l'étranger n'est pas uniquement dans la quantité de temps passé, mais aussi dans la manière dont les étudiants ont utilisé leur temps pendant ce programme. ...
... Mais l'effet d'un séjour en famille d'accueil n'est pas toujours positif, suivant les attitudes des membres de cette dernière (ex ; Diao, Freed, et Smith : 2011, Tanaka : 2007. Badstübner et Ecke (2009) Les apprenants ont alors recours à des sources d'input non-interactionnelles pour pratiquer le japonais. En raison de tous ces facteurs, un séjour à l'étranger n'est pas toujours le meilleur moyen d'apprendre une langue étrangère : dans certains cas, les apprenants avaient des difficultés à se faire des amis japonais au Japon. ...
Thesis
Dans cette thèse, nous examinons l’input et l’interaction en langue japonaise dans différents contextes d’apprentissage du japonais, que cela soit en restant dans son propre pays ou en séjour à l’étranger, en France ou au Japon dans le cas des apprenants du japonais. Nous étudions aussi les impacts de la culture populaire japonaise pour l’apprentissage du japonais en France, de la pénétration des réseaux sociaux en japonais en France, et les interactions en japonais dans leurs relations sociales avec des Japonais au Japon ou en France. Nous avons effectué trois études : une étude quantitative préliminaire comprenant une quarantaine d’apprenants du japonais, une étude qualitative en France avec 8 participants, et une au Japon avec également huit participants. Nous observons que la culture populaire japonaise peut constituer un premier contact avec la langue japonaise, mais les apprenants s’intéressent aussi au mode de vie japonais, et à la rencontre avec les Japonais, par les réseaux sociaux ou en personne. Le medium japonais le plus efficace pour l’apprentissage du japonais pourrait être les émissions de variétés sous-titrées en japonais. En revanche, selon leur environnement et leur personnalité, les apprenants du japonais en séjour au Japon n’ont pas toujours l’occasion de faire connaissance avec des Japonais.
... Many of these were built in recent years and for regular students (e.g., goal-based models, Jiang et al., 2019). However, there is scarce research on recommendation systems dedicated for exchange students for multiple reasons: restricted access to respondents, the complex interlinkage to several institutions of exchange agreements, and conflicting students' goals, i.e. academic and recreational (Badstübner & Ecke, 2009). In our work, we also faced data scarcity on exchange students, which acted as a bottleneck to building enough knowledge for the course recommendation system. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Network analysis simulations were used to guide decision-makers while configuring instructional spaces on our campus during COVID-19. Course enrollment data were utilized to estimate metrics of student-to-student contact under various instruction mode scenarios. Campus administrators developed recommendations based on these metrics; examples of learning analytics implementation are provided.
... Many of these were built in recent years (Bodily & Verbert, 2017) and for regular students (e.g., goal-based models, Jiang et al., 2019). However, there is scarce research on recommendation systems dedicated for exchange students for multiple reasons: restricted access to respondents, the complex interlinkage to several institutions of exchange agreements, and conflicting students' goals, i.e. academic and recreational (Badstübner & Ecke, 2009). In our work, we also faced data scarcity on exchange students, which acted as a bottleneck to building enough knowledge for the course recommendation system. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
While the exchange of cross-border students in Europe has increased significantly in recent years, a growing number of these students face obstacles in selecting courses for exchange. This poster describes the first iteration of creating a course recommendation system for exchange students to select courses that fit their preferences. We implemented a combination of embedding models to enhance the course search and simplified the course selection process. Whereas the students well received the recommendation system, a grey area was found. The results of more advanced embedding models were perceived as less relevant to their expectations.
Article
Many second language (L2) learners participate in study abroad (SA) experiences believing their choice will be synonymous with increased interaction in the L2, from which enhanced linguistic gains will ensue. Nonetheless, one open question is whether SA participants actually engage in sustained L2 interaction while they are abroad. This paper reports the results of a longitudinal study in which 31 SA participants (L1 = English; L2 = Spanish) completed the Daily Language Questionnaire 2 (DLQ 2), an online questionnaire designed in Qualtrics, every day during their 6-week SA experience in Spain. We show that (i) learners reported substantially less L2 use at the end than at the start of the SA and (ii) learners reported substantially less L2 use on “no-class” days compared to class days. We additionally tested correlations between the self-reported values of L2 use and the learners' L2 oral abilities. We found moderate positive correlations between L2 usage (per the DLQ 2) and initial-ability scores (per the Elicited Imitation Task); these findings are contextualized within theories of L2 interaction. Finally, we use the data of the present study to offer recommendations for administrators and instructors looking to refine the experience offered to SA participants.
Article
The field’s current understanding of L2 motivation is largely reliant on explicit self- reports (e.g. questionnaires and interviews). While such means have provided the L2 motivation field with a wealth of understanding, the underlying assumptions are that such attitudes take place in a conscious manner and that such representations are adequate. Recent developments have discussed these limitations and have called for a more in-depth and holistic understanding of the motivational psyche of L2 learners (e.g. Al-Hoorie, 2016a; Dörnyei, 2020). This thesis seeks to address this research lacuna by arguing for the inclusion of an implicit dimension into L2 motivation research, using the case of Hong Kong as an illustration. This thesis is first made up of a systemic literature review which provided an empirical understanding of the unprecedented boom in published studies that occurred between 2005 – 2014. Studying the dataset that was made up of 416 publications allowed for an understanding of the L2 methodological and theoretical trends in the literature. While there were several key findings from this empirical review, specific to this thesis, the most significant lies in the identification of the lack of an implicit dimension in the field. Consequently, this shaped the premise for this thesis, namely to set forth the case for a subconscious dimension of L2 motivation research. The selection of Hong Kong as a research location was motivated by its unique linguistic landscape. In order to better understand the situation, a qualitative pilot study that sought to determine Hong Kong’s viability as a location for unconscious motivation research was carried out. The qualitative results show that indeed, Hong Kong is loaded with ethnolinguistic tension. Regarding the participants’ attitudes towards the three languages, Cantonese was found to be synonymous with the Hong Kong identity and English was seen as a superior language that was associated with prestige and professional opportunities. In comparison, Mandarin held little relevance to the participants’ everyday lives. Upon further investigation, it was found that Fear of Assimilation was the main reason behind the participants’ lacklustre attitudes towards Mandarin. Overall, this qualitative pilot study offered an insight into the complexities underscoring Hong Kong’s unique, and loaded, linguistic environment; confirming Hong Kong’s suitability as a research location for this implicit line of research.
Article
Full-text available
The review looks to synthesise a large body of evidence focusing on the impact of study abroad on improvising linguistic outcomes (e.g., oral, listening etc.). This review gives particular attention to experimental designs and the European literature.
Article
Full-text available
The globalized era together with demographic, geographical, and structural changes to English has reshaped the landscape of English language teaching (ELT) and emphasized the importance of preparing language learners for intercultural communication. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the relations of language and culture. The aim of the present study was to assess intercultural factors in learning and education on Iranian EFL and Non-EFL learners in terms of their attitude, knowledge, awareness, and skill. A quantitative research method was applied with 400 high school students who were 215 EFL Learners and 185 Non-EFL Learners which included both genders in the Summer term in 2019. The convenience sampling method was used. A questionnaire (by Fantini, 1999, Brattleboro, Vermont, USA; revised, 2013) was run. It was valid because it was a standardized questionnaire and its reliability was checked via Cronbach’s alpha (p < 0.000). The result of data analysis proved that taking EFL classes in institutions could be effective and based on the findings, it can be concluded that at least in the Iranian context participating in English classes in language institutions has a positive effect on their intercultural competence. The study showed the differences in intercultural competence in which EFL learners were more competent than non-EFL learners. Regarding pedagogical implications, the findings of this study can shed light on the book designer and teachers in schools.
Article
Previous research on the benefits of study abroad (SA) has mainly focused on oral communication skills and L2 English, while written communication and other foreign languages have received far less attention. This study addresses this gap by investigating writing development in L2 German. It also aims to further the discussion about methods to assess writing development by combining different types of data. The writing gains of 30 Belgian students in L2 German were investigated after one semester abroad. Pre- and post-SA writing samples were analysed using linguistic and task-related assessment criteria. The results are triangulated with data about self-perceived language gains, on the one hand, and self-reported language contact and social networks during SA, on the other. The results indicate a correlation between self-report writing gains, language contact, and social networks.
Article
Full-text available
Dans cet article, l'A. s'interesse a la question du developpement du vocabulaire des etudiants lors de programmes d'echanges linguistiques a l'etranger. Il examine plus particulierement le developpement du vocabulaire en Grande Bretagne, a travers l'analyse statistique de tests et de questionnaires proposes a 53 etudiants issus des programmes ERASMUS et LINGUA
Article
This study examines the impact of a semester study abroad experience in Argentina on the second language acquisition of three American university Spanish learners. The goal is to measure development of two aspects of oral communication skills: fluency and performance in the oral functions of narration, and description and supporting an opinion.
Book
Examining the overseas experience of language learners in diverse contexts through a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, studies in this volume look at the acquisition of language use, socialization processes, learner motivation, identity and learning strategies. In this way, the volume offers a privileged window into learner experiences abroad while addressing current concerns central to second language acquisition. © 2006 Margaret A. DuFon, Eton Churchill and the authors of individual chapters. All rights reserved.
Article
The role of response effects (tendencies to respond to factors other than item content) in the self-assessment of second language ability was investigated through a split-ballot procedure using positively- and negatively-worded ques tions and graded (i.e. level-specific questions). Results indicate that both an acquiescence effect (a tendency to respond positively regardless of item con tent) and overestimation were present. Although both effects were present at all levels of subjects, they were most evident for less experienced learners. Discussion focuses on explanation of these effects and implications for both test construction and pedagogy.