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Toward a model of intercultural contact in an international SLA setting Culhane, Stephen F.

Abstract

This study focuses on intercultural contact experiences of English as a Second Language students in a study-abroad context. A model is proposed in the study to connect student pre-sojourn expectations with interaction and friendship patterns in first (LI) and second languages (L2), and attitudes toward acculturation. A triangulated research design is employed, involving Multivariate ANOVA and Multiple Regression analyses of questionnaire data, as well as qualitative analysis of student interview transcripts. Questionnaire responses from 140 advanced ESL students are used in analyses of variance to examine relationships between LI and L2 use, language use in student friendship patterns, and student attitudes toward both acculturation and cultural diversity. Regression analysis is used to determine the amount of variance in attitudes toward cultural diversity accountable by four predictor variables: previous intercultural experience, pre-sojourn knowledge of the host society, attitudes toward interacting with members of a student's home society, and attitudes toward interacting with members of the host society. Results of the analyses of variance indicate a positive relationship between LI and L2 use and friendship patterns; language use and attitudes toward interaction with home and host groups; and to a lesser extent, a correlation between each of these, and attitudes toward cultural diversity. Results from the regression analysis found about 26% of the variance in attitudes toward cultural diversity accounted for by the four predictor variables. Analyses of student interviews added to these findings by providing personal examples of sojourner acculturation. Paths laid out in the proposed model were reflected in many instances, but areas where the model can be improved were also suggested. Based on the findings, it is concluded that attitudes sojourners hold toward people they interact with in a host setting significantly impact on their opportunities for acquiring greater proficiency in an L2 and second culture (C2). Student reactions toward cultural diversity of the host setting were shown to relate to language use, friendship patterns, and motivations for contact with home and host groups. The results suggest experiences during a sojourn can enhance or modify attitudes toward people from diverse cultures and speakers of different languages. It is also suggested that sojourners with more tolerant attitudes are likely to show a greater tendency to engage in interactions within the L2, and, therefore, to have a greater likelihood of being successful in acquiring competence in the L2 and C2.

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