- 學苑 = GAKUEN (ISSN:13480103)
- vol.881, pp.29-45, 2014-03-01
This paper investigates a five-week study abroad and homestay program undergone by Showa Women's University(SWU)students from various faculties and years in early 2013 at the Institute of Continuing TESOL Education, University of Queensland(ICTE-UQ), Australia. Prompted by OECD results which showed a trend that Japanese students' interest in study abroad programs is decreasing; research sought to identify from the students who participated in this program their perceived language skill improvement and language contact experiences. Feedback was sourced from a questionnaire administered by Google Forms and student reports submitted to the Centre for International Exchange(CIE). Despite an initial culture shock, and concerns with English proficiency, students developed strategies and drew on unfamiliar support systems to overcome communication issues in their multicultural learning and living environments. From this immersion, positive feedback was received regarding perceived language skill improvement, particularly for listening and speaking. Although questionnaire results do show some dissatisfaction, mainly regarding the population of Japanese students at the language school; overall, these multicultural learning and living environments had a positive effect on students' perceived English language improvement and enhanced their motivation towards communicating in English. These results indicate that short term study abroad is considered beneficial by SWU students for language skill improvement and language contact experiences. Furthermore, this paper argues that such benefits are noteworthy for SWU students in the larger context of Japanese society since English communication strategies will be required for future international events, and due to the recent revitalization of study abroad as part of Japanese education by the Abe Government. Related also is SWU's focus on globalization. Therefore, SWU students who undertake study abroad are expected to have a positive experience in regards to a heightened perception of improved language skills and language contact proficiency, coupled with an international capability.