Social Support and Acculturation Process among Study Abroad English as a Second Language Students in the United States

Doi, Saori
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
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Studying abroad attracts a large volume of interests from various stakeholders such as higher education institutions, students, foreign education institutions and the private sector. While the number of study abroad students has continuously increased, the need of social support for such students has become evident for their optimal experiences abroad. The conceptual framework guiding this study represented four acculturation components sojourners go through in new intercultural contexts⎯task identification and assessment, negotiation of meaning, acculturative change, and acculturative outcome. This study focused on the first three components, and aimed to examine difficulties for study abroad English as a Second Language (ESL) students, from whom students receive social support, and relationships among perceived difficulties, social support, and degrees of acculturation in terms of cultural identification. I collected information from 187 study abroad ESL students enrolled in an intensive English program at a state university in the United States by using two self-developed scales for perceived difficulties and social support and adapting the Acculturation Index. First, by referring to descriptive statistics, and the results of independent sample t-tests and linear regression analyses, I explored perceived difficulties and social support along with qualitative analysis of open-ended comments. Second, I used structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the relationships among perceived difficulties, social support and degrees of acculturation. Results indicated that students experienced various types of difficulties. The difficulties in personal life were more varied than those in school life. In both school and personal contexts, students’ concerns for their futures became evident. As for social support, students relied on the same first language speaking individuals and those with whom they had to use English to different degrees. Moreover, individual-level factors played a role in degrees of perceived difficulties and the amount and sources of social support. The SEM results also revealed positive relationships between the first two components in the acculturation model, and the role of students’ language proficiencies in the acculturation process became apparent too. However, the SEM results provided mixed support for the relationships between social support and degrees of acculturation. I discussed implications for the conceptual framework and future research.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Acculturation, Difficulties, ESL, Social Support, Study Abroad
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Educational Psychology
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