Studentsí Outcomes in Seven Languages Semester Abroad Programs

Qun Ao

The Untied States Military Academy

What the outcomes of our study abroad programs tell us? And how we can utilize the outcomes for making data-driven improvements in curriculum design and instructional strategies for our programs? In order to get the most out of study abroad programs, all language educators who have been involved in either long or short term programs are faced with the task of assessing the complex components of the study abroad experience.

This study investigates linguistic outcomes in reading, listening and speaking from seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) and 493 cadets in study abroad contexts.The data collected from 2008 to 2011 over seven semesters.The analysis and discussion was based on official ratings of Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), conducted by International Language Testing, ACTFL and official scores on Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), used for the United States Department of Defense (DoD).

This study shows that there is a tendency towards uneven development of linguistic competence across seven languages study abroad programs and it does not uphold the common belief that students who go abroad make spectacular progress in oral proficiency. This study suggests that development of oral proficiency may impede by certain curriculum design and instructional strategies.