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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Holmes, P., Bavieri, L., Ganassin, S. & Murphy, J. (2016). Interculturality and the study abroad experience: students’ learning from the IEREST materials. Language and Intercultural Communication 16(3): 452-469.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This study investigated how a ‘while abroad’ (IEREST) intercultural experiential learning programme (i) encouraged mobile student sojourners to explore the concept of ‘interculturality’; (ii) promoted their intercultural engagement/communication during their stay abroad; and (iii) invited them to reflect on their own (developing) interculturality. As students demonstrated their intercultural learning and perspectives, how did they (re)interpret and (re)construct the IEREST learning materials? Data drew on questionnaires, reflective journals, and focus groups from two groups of mobile university students (in Italy and the UK). The findings illustrated how students’ initial expectations of the programme (meeting new people and improving language) were exceeded. Through reflection on experience and discussion with peer, tutors and members of the host community, students realised that ‘interculturality’ is multifaceted and complex; they expanded their small culture spheres to explore community cultures (gender, age, and locality); they acknowledged the effort, work, and time required in interpreting bilateral understandings of self and other, and the possibilities of such understandings for global/intercultural citizenship. The outcomes offer implications for intercultural learning and training in the study abroad context, materials development, and further research concerning student mobility and intercultural education in other contexts.

School of Education