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Keywords:

  • French;
  • Spanish;
  • cultural engagement;
  • motivation;
  • self-efficacy;
  • study abroad

Abstract

This article reports the findings of an investigation into the impact of study abroad experiences on self-efficacy perceptions among foreign language (FL) learners. Thirty-nine American college students taking part in both short-term and semester-long academic programs in France and Spain completed self-efficacy surveys at the beginning and at the end of their foreign sojourns. Students were also asked to complete a questionnaire documenting the nature and extent of their interactions with members of the host country. Statistical analysis of the self-efficacy measures in this investigation revealed that participation in a study abroad program (regardless of its length or destination) had a significant impact on self-efficacy perceptions in all FL subskills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). Furthermore, the extent of self-efficacy gains was found to be associated with the extent and type of interaction with members of the host country. Pedagogical implications of these finds are discussed, along with suggestions on how to maximize the motivational benefits of foreign study programs.