What is the impact of study abroad on oral fluency development? A comparison of study abroad and study at home

This paper explores the impact of studying abroad on oral fluency.

Zöe Handley and Haiping Wang

Developing fluency in spoken English is perhaps the most frequently cited reason for choosing to study for a degree in an English-speaking country. However, the evidence is largely limited to studies tracking a single cohort of students, with few studies comparing study ‘at home’ with ‘study abroad’.

This research involved a group of Chinese Master’s students, some based in the UK, others ‘home based’ in East China. On average the learners in both contexts made small gains in oral fluency. Learners studying in the UK made gains on measures of speed and learners studying in China made gains on measures of breakdown fluency (i.e. pausing). The results suggest that the findings of previous research may not be generalisable to all contexts, and that further research is necessary focusing on different formats of study abroad.

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