Developing pragmatic competence on a stay abroad

Projekt: Forschung




Study-abroad programs are generally believed to enhance foreign language skills to an extent that classroom instruction cannot match. Students and language educators often state that one of the most important benefits of spending a semester abroad is the opportunity to master a foreign language. Given the importance of study-abroad in both European and US degree programs, considerable research effort has been devoted to examining the ways in which a sojourn abroad can contribute to the development of foreign language skills. One of the most obvious benefits of living in a foreign country can be that students interact with local people and can observe how they communicate.

As most studies have shown, spending a semester abroad often results in both better pragmatic awareness and the use of more appropriate conventional expressions in various communicative situations. Despite their great expectations, however, some students do not seem to make much more progress during study abroad than those students who participate in focused pragmatic training at their home establishments.

Therefore, the aim of our innovative research project is twofold:

a) to develop study materials and administer a training course for students who go on study-abroad in order to raise their awareness of the language learning opportunities that such an experience can give them, and prepare them for the kinds of cross-cultural encounters that they might expect during their stay. The course is entitled "Detektiv im Ausland: eine sprachliche Online-Begleitung während eines Auslandsaufenthalts“ /“Detective abroad: Support language development during stay abroad” and is going to be offered in the course catalogue for outgoing students (on stay/abroad in English-speaking countries) in the Winter semester starting in September; and

b) to conduct a longitudinal study in order to evaluate our study-abroad preparation course, and to extend previous research into the effects of study abroad to the use of novel media applications and the impact of individual differences on the success of such programs.

For more information please contact:

Prof. Dr. Anne Barron or Dr. Anna Trebits
ZeMoS / Study-Abroad Project