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Short-Term Study Abroad: Predicting Changes in Oral Skills

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Abstract

Abstract: Increasing numbers of students are opting for study abroad programs of 2 months or less while research on study abroad generally focuses on semester- or year-long programs. This study quantitatively examines changes in students' spoken Spanish after 6 weeks in Argentina using native speaker ratings of student speech. The researcher then uses self-report measures to determine which of the following variables predict improvements in speaking, pre-program motivation and intercultural sensitivity, relationship with the host family, and interaction with native speakers. Results suggest that short-term programs can benefit language skills, as the majority of students in this program demonstrated small yet highly significant improvements in spoken Spanish even though a percentage of students showed a decrease in their skills. Surprisingly, only pre-program levels of cultural sensitivity predicted students' improvements in language skills, providing further evidence of the importance of culture in language learning.

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