Article published in:Study abroad and the Erasmus+ programme in Europe: Perspectives on language and intercultural learning
Edited by Anne Marie Devlin
[Study Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education 5:1] 2020
► pp. 15–44
The role of social networks and intense friendships in study abroad students’ L2 use and speaking development
ERASMUS learners’ perspectives
This article examines the connections among self-reported social network development, L2 use, and self-perceived speaking proficiency development in a group of Belgian ERASMUS students (n = 59) who studied abroad in different European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK). The results suggest a number of differences between the participants in this study and the US cohorts who have been traditionally the focus of previous SA research. For example, the Belgian students report high levels of proficiency in the target language before going abroad and high levels of target language use while abroad. Furthermore, a number of social network variables point to differences between the ERASMUS students in the present study and the US students featuring in previous research. Nevertheless, the results also reveal some similarities, especially with regard to the social network variables ‘size’ and ‘intensity of friendship’ which were predictors of language gains for the group of students under analysis in this study and, consequently, corroborated findings of previous studies conducted with US cohorts.
Keywords: social networks, L2 use, interaction, speaking proficiency, ERASMUS+
Published online: 24 February 2020
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