Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
Applied Language Learning
Previous studies have shown that study abroad has a positive effect on second language (L2) learning outcomes for students who spend at least a semester abroad. It is unclear, however, whether a short-term experience also has a measurable impact on L2 development. The present study examines the relationship between speaking proficiency gains made by students during a short-term study abroad program and their target language use outside of class in the host environment. To determine the potential relationships between speaking gains and language use, a background information questionnaire, a two-part modified language contact profile (LCP), and a pre-program and post-program simulated oral proficiency interview (SOPI) were administered to 20 students in a traditional short-term study abroad program in Spain. Findings indicate that the group did improve their speaking proficiency. At the same time, data taken from the LCP suggest that study abroad learners did not engage in extensive social interaction with native speakers throughout the duration of the program. To improve traditional short-term study abroad programs, the author uses these results to discuss aspects of the programmatic structure that could strengthen the program’s linguistic benefits.