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Foreign Language Learning as Intercultural Experience

The Subjective Dimension


Edited By Arnd Witte and Theo Harden

Learning a foreign language in its cultural context has a significant effect on the subjective mind, ranging from the unsettling to the inspirational. The complex interplay between native and foreign languages, their cultural conceptualisations and discourses and the mind and body of the learner results in the subjective construction of individual positionings located «in between» the languages and cultures involved. These processes are not restricted to the cognitive level of learning but also involve deep-seated habits, values and beliefs. These habits, values and beliefs are to a certain extent the result of subjective experiences and feelings; however, they are also embedded in a socio-cultural network of concepts, norms, traditions and life-worlds, so that they are characterised both by the learner’s subjectivity and by the sociality and (inter-)culturality of their environment.
The essays in this volume explore the subjective dimension of intercultural language learning, ranging from theoretical considerations to empirical studies and providing stimulating insights into this important area of study.
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Foreign Language Learning as Intercultural Experience: The Subjective Dimension



The study underpins the importance of cultural sensitivity and language proficiency in an increasingly globalised world. This paper aims to provide insights into how Middle Eastern students experience the stay abroad (SA) programme in Ireland. Data is presented from a group of students enrolled in a foundation programme in Ireland where the researchers look at the potential relationship between the students’ cultural experiences and the development of language proficiency in an immersion context.

The paper is divided into four main sections. The first section presents a brief summary of the main directions of research into linguistic gain and intercultural learning during the SA programme. The next two sections present preliminary data from the empirical study which is then discussed in the concluding section.

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