Departmental Bulletin Paper Researching Study Abroad - Declining Participation in Japan and an Overview of Past Research -


This brief review article discusses past research on study abroad in both the Japanese and wider contexts. The research has taken place within two broad strands: quantitative investigations into the impact of learning context on the development of language proficiency; and qualitative and ethnographic explorations of how individual factors are influenced by learning abroad. The review argues that methodologies situated in the second strand may offer greater insight into study abroad experiences given the multiple and unique factors involved. When such research is used in promotional material over a reliance on anecdotal remarks, parents and prospective participants may be more convinced of the potential benefits of overseas study. This may particularly be the case in a Japanese context characterised by declining participation rates in Japan. It may also help participants to develop realistic expectations of the kinds of development that can take place on a sojourn. This would be particularly helpful for short-term programmes, the fastest growing sector of study abroad, where gains may be seen more in terms of motivation, confidence, attitude to English and culture learning, than on the development of language proficiency. The review article discusses past research in the area, with a focus on Japan. It begins by looking at the recent trend of declining participation and challenges some commonly cited reasons.

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