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From the learner's perspective: A case study on motives and study abroad

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Title:From the learner's perspective: A case study on motives and study abroad
Authors:Douglass, Kate
Date Issued:01 Jan 2006
Publisher:Thompson & Heinle
Citation:Douglass, K. (2006). From the learner's perspective: A case study on motives and study abroad. The American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of Foreign Languages Programs (AAUSC), 116-133.
Abstract:As we attempt to better understand the study abroad experience from the
perspective of the participants, we must examine individual learners’ motives for language study and for study abroad and the role of social history in shaping these motives. Framed by an activity theoretic perspective, this study explores the language learning motives of one learner of French as they are shaped and reshaped in anticipation of and during a one-semester undergraduate study abroad program in Paris. Findings reveal that this
learner’s motives for learning French and for studying abroad are initially
shaped by her social history, including her previous language learning
experiences, her parents’ early pressure to succeed, and her personal life goals, as well as by her parents’ and her own perceptions of the use value of language learning. Over time, the strengthening or weakening of these motives in response to the shifting material circumstances in the Parisian context (including the academic program, her daily encounters in French society, and her degree of access to certain French communities of practice) impacts her strategies and behaviors and her success overseas.The results of
this study demand a return to a focus on the individual learner in teaching
and in research on language learning contexts at home and abroad and
suggest further investigation of the role of motives and social history in
shaping learners’ goals in language learning, their decisions to study abroad, and their experiences once overseas.

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