The role of individual learner differences in the study abroad context. Their effect on foreign language development from an integrative perspective

Start - End 
2016 - 2019 (ongoing)
Department of Linguistics



The postdoctoral project aims to examine the effects of a study abroad on foreign language acquisition. More specifically, the project will investigate possible gains in the lexical and morphosyntactic knowledge of German as a foreign language. Common belief is that a study abroad will result in dramatic higher levels of foreign language proficiency. Research has shown, however, that despite the magical image, a study abroad may not be the magic elixir for developing language proficiency. It is not the physical presence in the target culture in itself that may positively affect language acquisition. Rather individual differences are assumed to determine the degree of L2 development. The project will therefore relate the lexical and morphosyntactic development in L2 German to individual differences, such as:  (i) the learners’ actual amount of language use while abroad; (ii) the initial competence level; (iii) the cognitive capacity; and (iv) affective and personality factors. The project thus has two general research questions: (1) Does a study abroad lead to improved development in L2 German lexical and morphosyntactic knowledge?; (2) Is the degree of L2 lexical and morphosyntactic development related to individual differences in a study abroad context