Study Abroad from the Participants' Perspective: A Challenge to Common Beliefs1


  • Sharon Wilkinson Ph.D.

    1. West Virginia University
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      Sharon Wilkinson (Ph.D., Penn State University) is Assistant Professor of French at West Virginia University, Morgantown.

  • 1

    The author wishes to thank Frank W. Medley, Jr., Joanne Burnett, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


ABSTRACT  Much study-abroad program recruitment literature depicts the overseas experience as a short cut to linguistic fluency and cross-cultural understanding, a view that is also largely supported by research on the outcomes of a stay abroad; however, when the experience of learning to interact in a foreign language and of adapting to a foreign culture is viewed through the eyes of four American summer study-abroad students in France, a different perspective emerges. The findings of this study challenge many common beliefs about the overseas educational experience and, in doing so, raise questions that hold implications for study-abroad programs and foreign language classrooms alike.