NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ1084520
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 22
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1085-4568
The Effect of Study Abroad on Intercultural Competence: Results from a Longitudinal Quasi-Experimental Study
Heinzmann, Sybille; Künzle, Roland; Schallhart, Nicole; Müller, Marianne
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v26 p187-208 Fall 2015
Skills in several foreign languages are among the core competencies demanded in today's multicultural, mobile and connected society. Foreign language teaching must promote the development of intercultural competence (IC) and adaptability. The present study was carried out in Switzerland among upper secondary school students, many of whom are required to spend some time in a foreign language area as part of their educational degree. The study examined a broad range of linguistic exchange activities at Swiss upper secondary schools which differ with respect to some important features mentioned above (duration, accommodation, affective and linguistic starting conditions, provisions for cultural interaction, etc.) in order to answer the following research questions: (1) What effects do exchange activities have on the development of intercultural competence?; and (2) What criteria for success can be identified? The study comprises different formats of exchange activities (exchange with a partner class, traditional language stay with attendance of a language school, internships, culture week, etc.) with different TLs. As upper secondary school students, the participants can be considered having intermediate to upper-intermediate TL competence. The study employed a quasi-experimental longitudinal design with an intervention group consisting of students who took part in an exchange program and a control group consisting of students who did not take part in an exchange program. Both groups were surveyed three times. The sample for the analysis of short-term effects of linguistic exchange activities consisted of 405 upper secondary students from German and French-speaking Switzerland, who participated in an exchange program or went on a language stay (intervention group) and 135 upper secondary students from German and French-speaking Switzerland, who did not participate in an exchange program and did not go on a language stay (control group). The students were between 13 and 20 years-old. The average age was 16 years. Sixty-nine percent were girls and 31% boys. As far as the nationality of the participants is concerned, 73% were Swiss, 18% double citizens and 10% foreigners. Fifty-seven percent were monolingual and 43% multilingual. Despite limitations, the present study provides useful insights for study abroad program administrators, teachers and students thanks to a number of methodological merits, most notably the experimental design comprising an intervention and a control group, a pre-, post-, and delayed posttest, the large sample size, the fact that the participants were required to study abroad rather than choosing this option themselves, and the large range of types of programs that could be investigated.
Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Switzerland
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A