Presented at the AAAL Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 6 March 2010.
The purpose of this colloquium was to update professional appreciation of language learning in study abroad, with special reference to projects illustrating contemporary interest in the socially situated nature of this phenomenon. Introducing the panel, Celeste Kinginger (Pennsylvania State University) noted that while a sojourn abroad can enhance every aspect of language ability, it is most effective in domains related to social interaction. The colloquium was motivated by several limitations of current research on study abroad. First, the vast majority of studies address the experiences of US-based students learning commonly taught languages. Second, the research would benefit from a shift away from conservative, academic views of language to more usage-based models reflecting the full range of living language that students encounter abroad. Finally, an exclusive focus on the student perspective, in qualitative studies, may yield incomplete and potentially ethnocentric findings.