A Mixed-Methodology Investigation of the Linguistic and Affective Outcomes of Summer Study Abroad


  • Heather Willis Allen PhD,

    1. University of Pittsburgh
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      Heather Willis Allen (PhD, Emory University) is Coordinator in French and Lecturer at University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • Carol Herron PhD

    1. Emory University
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      Carol Herron (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Professor of French at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.


Abstract: The purpose of this mixed-methodology study was to investigate linguistic and affective outcomes of summer study abroad (SA) participation by 25 college French students. This investigation sought to determine if significant changes occurred in two linguistic factors, oral and listening French skills, and two affective factors, integrative motivation and language anxiety after SA. This research also examined whether pre-SA affective differences existed for SA participants versus non-SA peers. Results demonstrated that French linguistic skills improved significantly and that classroom and nonclassroom language anxiety after SA decreased significantly. Integrative motivation of the SA group was unchanged after the experience. Pre-SA affective differences did not exist between SA participants and non-SA peers. Analysis of interviews and program evaluations suggested that participants faced two sources of language anxiety while abroad: linguistic insecurity and cultural differences. Implications of this study include (1) the continued endorsement of summer SA programs to enhance communication skills, (2) the need for greater pre-SA emphasis on “nonacademic” factors to reduce foreign language anxiety, and (3) the importance of SA programs including contact with native speakers in class and during informal learning, in order to stimulate attitudinal changes as well as linguistic gains.