The Problem of Language Acquisition in Short-term Study Programs


Studies of language acquisition often footnote study abroad as a kind of effortless magical solution for painless language-related solutions. In fact, a consistent body of research clearly concludes that study abroad can have a positive impact on every domain of language competence. That data assumes study abroad experiences that are traditionally measured in semesters or years. Yet as reported in the U. S. Open Doors Study (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State) over the past five years, full semester study abroad programs in the United States have stalled while short-term programs (eight weeks or less) are clearly in the ascendancy. What is the effect of short-term study abroad programs on students’ desire for language learning? This paper is based on a trial study of undergraduate students, not foreign language majors, and the degree of receptiveness for language acquisition before and after a short-term study program. With full semester programs on the wane, we have to examine how language learning is perceived by students in short-term study. The research is clear regarding first person intensive exposure in promoting language skills; this study quantifies motivation in students who participate in short-term programs. Language acquisition has a new friend.


Short-term, Study Abroad, Language Acquisition, Motivation


Learning in Higher Education


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Alan Garfield
    • Chair, Digital Art and Design Department., Professor, University of Dubuque, United States Iowa, United States
    • I trained as an art historian and while I love art history, perhaps the world doesn't need more art historians. So I used my knowledge of languages and systems to learn computer languages and software and proceeded to start a program 19 years ago at this small, midwestern university to offer art and design students a rosy future in the digital world. Undergraduates learn 2D animation, 3D animation, gaming, digital design and web development. What a thrill to see students come alive by their own creative juices. It takes an administration that believes in its professors and professors who care about each other as well as the students. I have been encouraged and publish in 19th century French studies, Holocaust studies, Spencer studies, education reform and language innovation. I'm still learning, which is probably why I stay in school. Eight years ago, we started a unique interfaith group here in Dubuque called Children of Abraham. A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a room and...