Thrivers and Survivors during Study Abroad: The individual Cases of Japanese Learners of English

Halenko, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9906-6418 and Economidou-Kogetsidis, Maria (2024) Thrivers and Survivors during Study Abroad: The individual Cases of Japanese Learners of English. Languages, 9 (5).

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Whilst study abroad (SA) periods hold much promise for foreign language development, increasing research suggests sojourners experiences are unique, and language development does not always follow a linear trajectory. For some learners, SA has little impact on their language performance despite the affordances of L2 immersion (the Survivors). Other learners maximise the potential of SA and this has a positive impact on their language development (the Thrivers). This paper examines the selected cases of four Japanese learners of English and their request language performance during a 10-month SA in the UK. Changes in pragmatic knowledge (based on appropriateness ratings) were documented at three equidistant time points. Language contact profile data also provided quantitative insights into the learners’ extracurricular language use and qualitative personal reflections. The selected cases illustrate two learners surviving the SA experience, showing minimal change in their request performance. The other two learners thrived during SA, showing accelerated performance in terms of lexical variation at the production level. This paper reports on the case histories of these learners to better understand these unique experiences and pragmatic discrepancies. Suggestions for how learners might be more pragmatically successful during SA are also offered.

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