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.