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Speaking with Arabs on Study Abroad

Participants in BYU’s Arabic study abroad are expected to try and engage native Arabic speakers in conversation for two hours a day outside of their normal classes. This standard holds them accountable for their time abroad and encourages them to confront the challenges of language immersion, but it can also overwhelm participants when combined with other program tasks. This past fall I spent a whole semester helping administer the program, focusing on interviewing and assisting struggling participants. With the resulting data, I’m conducting a grounded theory analysis (1) to explore the contexts in which students came on the program, and, using that context, (2) to allow new perspectives of their experience to emerge. This research will form the core of my dissertation, which I plan on completing in 2018.

 

Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) in Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

One way I hope to explore new ways of thinking about student experiences abroad is testing theories through the use of SEM. Using data collected over the past five years of Arabic study abroad at BYU, I’m currently working on an SEM model to predict language proficiency gains. I’m lucky to have the help of IP&T’s resident methodologist, Ross Larsen, as my mentor and co-researcher.

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