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Keywords:

  • learning strategies;
  • listening comprehension;
  • short-term foreign sojourns;
  • strategy training;
  • study abroad;
  • Spanish;
  • relevant to all languages

Abstract: This study investigates the impact of a five-week intermediate Spanish course on the listening comprehension ability of 48 participants in short-term study abroad programs, and compares these groups with 92 peers enrolled in a similar course on the home campus. While both on-campus and study abroad groups experienced similar gains in listening comprehension, there were significant differences in the way learners approached listening tasks: The study abroad group applied primarily top-down and social listening strategies, while the on-campus students favored bottom-up processing. Higher-proficiency students in the study abroad groups had significantly higher comprehension gains, and the study abroad groups achieved higher levels of confidence and self-perceived ability after the treatment. Results outline some of the benefits and limitations of short-term foreign sojourns for beginner and low-intermediate language learners.