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The development of social relations during residence abroad

The development of social relations during residence abroad
The development of social relations during residence abroad
Language students in the UK undertake their ‘year abroad’ with high hopes for a linguistic and social ‘immersion’ experience. However, past research shows that language learning success, while real, can be uneven, and that many Erasmus exchange students form social relations largely with other international students (Muprhy-Lejeune, 2002; Papatsiba, 2006). New virtual media make it easy and cheap for the current student generation to sustain existing social networks, blurring previous clear distinctions between ‘home’ and ‘abroad’ (Coleman & Chafer, 2010).

This paper draws on data from a larger 2-year study of UK students undertaking residence abroad in France, Spain and Mexico (the LANGSNAP project). The participants were involved in 3 different placement types: as teaching assistants, as exchange students, and as workplace interns. A series of pre- sojourn and in-sojourn interviews with 28 students spending an academic year in France are analysed, to identify both the social networking opportunities available, and the actual social relationships which were developed. The analysis shows that all three placement types offered structured opportunities for interaction with French nationals, whether as professional mentors and colleagues in school or office, or as teachers and fellow students in university settings. For almost all participants these regular structured relations led to moderate degrees of social networking. However only a minority of participants developed closer relationships of friendship with locals, from which they drew emotional support. These relationships generally took time to develop, and arose from shared interests such as sport or music, or from romantic encounters, as well as from workplace or campus contact in some cases. The majority of participants developed close relations with other international sojourners/ Erasmus participants, facilitated by joint living arrangements and organised induction activities, as well as commonality of situation. Participants were thus negotiating their language and intercultural learning as members of complex and dynamic networks involving home and international as well as local contacts.
1750-1229
1-14
Mitchell, Rosamond
de2eabed-7903-43fa-961a-c16f69fddd7e
Mitchell, Rosamond
de2eabed-7903-43fa-961a-c16f69fddd7e

Mitchell, Rosamond (2015) The development of social relations during residence abroad. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 9 (1), 1-14.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Language students in the UK undertake their ‘year abroad’ with high hopes for a linguistic and social ‘immersion’ experience. However, past research shows that language learning success, while real, can be uneven, and that many Erasmus exchange students form social relations largely with other international students (Muprhy-Lejeune, 2002; Papatsiba, 2006). New virtual media make it easy and cheap for the current student generation to sustain existing social networks, blurring previous clear distinctions between ‘home’ and ‘abroad’ (Coleman & Chafer, 2010).

This paper draws on data from a larger 2-year study of UK students undertaking residence abroad in France, Spain and Mexico (the LANGSNAP project). The participants were involved in 3 different placement types: as teaching assistants, as exchange students, and as workplace interns. A series of pre- sojourn and in-sojourn interviews with 28 students spending an academic year in France are analysed, to identify both the social networking opportunities available, and the actual social relationships which were developed. The analysis shows that all three placement types offered structured opportunities for interaction with French nationals, whether as professional mentors and colleagues in school or office, or as teachers and fellow students in university settings. For almost all participants these regular structured relations led to moderate degrees of social networking. However only a minority of participants developed closer relationships of friendship with locals, from which they drew emotional support. These relationships generally took time to develop, and arose from shared interests such as sport or music, or from romantic encounters, as well as from workplace or campus contact in some cases. The majority of participants developed close relations with other international sojourners/ Erasmus participants, facilitated by joint living arrangements and organised induction activities, as well as commonality of situation. Participants were thus negotiating their language and intercultural learning as members of complex and dynamic networks involving home and international as well as local contacts.

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Published date: January 2015
Organisations: Modern Languages

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Local EPrints ID: 370193
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/370193
ISSN: 1750-1229
PURE UUID: 2d869160-4e60-4a48-ae26-9451b2ca1fc5

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Date deposited: 27 Oct 2014 13:45
Last modified: 15 Feb 2018 17:34

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