Critical experiences in study abroad
Slides from a presentation to the 2015 JALT (Japanese Association of Language Teachers) Conference.
The majority of research on Study Abroad (SA) has focused on the outcomes and effectiveness of programs in a broader context of Second Language Acquisition which DuFon and Churchill (2006) note "concentrated on gains in specific skills" (p. 2), while neglecting the experience of the individual. Recently there has been a movement to better account for individuals’ experiences in SA through the use of sociocultural and identity theory-based approaches such as Jackson (2008) and Kinginger (2013).
This research has highlighted the impact that the crossing of borders and the confronting of unfamiliar social and cultural practices places on the individual. It is during these situations in SA that individuals' identities are most heavily contested in what Block (2002) terms 'critical experiences'.
Through examples taken from a study completed in November 2014, the presentation demonstrates how 'critical experiences' provide insights into identity change in individuals during SA and suggest the types of methodologies that can be adopted to both identify and analyse these experiences.
Block, D. (2002). Destabilized Identities and Cosmopolitanism across Language and Cultural Borders: Two Case Studies. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 1-19.
DuFon, M. A., & Churchill, E. (2006). Language learners in study abroad contexts. Buffalo, NY: Multilingual Matters.
Jackson, J. (2008). Language, Identity and Study Abroad. London: Equinox Publishing.
Kinginger, C. (2013). Identity and language learning in study abroad. Foreign Language Annals, 46(3), 339-358.