Adolescent Language Learners on a Three-Month Exchange: Insights from their Diaries

Authors

  • Michael Warden Ed.D.,

    1. Oakville Trafalgar High School
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      Michael Warden (Ed.D. candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) is a language teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

  • Sharon Lapkin Ph.D.,

    1. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
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      Sharon Lapkin (Ph.D., University of Toronto) is Associate Professor in the Modern Language Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada.

  • Merrill Swain Ph.D.,

    1. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
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      Menill Swain (Ph.D., University of California at Irvine) is Professor in the Modern Language Centre.

  • Doug Hart Ph.D.

    1. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
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      Doug Hart (Ph.D., York University) is Research Associate in the Modern Language Centre.


Abstract

ABSTRACT  This paper examines the diaries that were kept by 18 anglophone high-school students of French while they spent three months in Quebec as part of an exchange program. The four main research issues deal with: 1) insights into the language learning process provided by the student diarists; 2) affective factors in language learning; 3) extralinguistic benefits of the exchange; and 4) the ways in which the diaries supplement other data, such as tests and questionnaires.

The analysis yields a great deal of information about individual differences among language learners. While generalizations about students' language learning strategies must await replications of this study, there are common themes with respect to affective factors. All the diarists express some degree of linguistic and cultural shock at the beginning of the visit. However, these initial feelings of frustration and anxiety gradually subside as the students become acclimatized and start to make linguistic progress, and by the end of the exchange all the diarists express satisfaction with their experience in terms of both language learning and personal growth.

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