Proficiency Levels in Study Abroad

Is There an Optimal Time for Sojourning?

Authored by: Bernard Issa , Janire Zalbidea

The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138192393
eBook ISBN: 9781315639970
Adobe ISBN:


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One of the myriad factors that may influence second language (L2) development during study abroad (SA) is learner proficiency at the outset of the sojourn. The variable of predeparture proficiency, as discussed by Collentine (2009), makes for an attractive topic of inquiry as compared to other individual difference variables (e.g., aptitude, working memory) because it is “controllable from a preprogram perspective” (p. 222) as learners have agency in deciding when to go abroad in their learning trajectory. Given this, a better understanding of the role of predeparture proficiency in L2 development is of interest to various stakeholders, including L2 learners, L2 instructors (at secondary and postsecondary levels), and SA advisors and program directors. However, surprisingly, preprogram proficiency has received relatively little attention in the SA literature as compared to other factors (e.g., program length).

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