A Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Skill Perspective on L2 Development in Study Abroad

  • Dan E. DavidsonEmail author
  • Jane Robin Shaw
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 37)


The present study reports on measured gains in L2 proficiencies in speaking, reading and listening of U.S. students (N = 308) who took part in year-long federally funded overseas immersion programs for Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Subjects were late adolescent and young adult learners of diverse social and economic backgrounds participating in year-long structured instructed immersion programs hosted in China, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Morocco and Russia. L2 gains in post-program proficiency levels from 4.76 to 7.74 standard deviations above pre-program measured levels are reported for both the early- and the late-stage learners: Mean post-program proficiency levels of ILR-2, CEFR-B2 are demonstrated by the early-stage learners across skills in all three target languages. The mean post-program proficiency levels of ILR-3, CEFR-C1 of the university subjects meets certification levels for language-designated positions in in most U.S. government and professional organizations. The study also examines skill gains across modalities: Advanced participants show concurrent gains across three skills: reading, listening, and speaking. Post-program reading and speaking are strongly correlated with pre-program listening at the advanced levels. Reading ability is strongly associated with gains in speaking and in listening skills, as the student progresses from novice through the professional level.


L2 gain Immersion Study abroad Cross-skill correlations Critical languages SLA Diversity abroad Professional proficiency 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Councils Research Center (ARC)American Councils for International EducationWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Myra T. Cooley LectureshipBryn Mawr CollegeBryn MawrUSA
  3. 3.Department of RussianBryn Mawr CollegeBryn MawrUSA

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