Narrative Remembering of Intercultural Encounters: A Case Study of Language Program Reintegration After Study Abroad

Sheng Hsun Lee, Celeste Kinginger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


What becomes of language students who participate in study abroad and then continue their study at home? What part can their memory of in-country living play in shaping subsequent classroom experiences, not only for the students themselves but also for their classmates and teachers? This study explores changes in the motives of a study abroad returnee, Kevin, after his return to his home campus following a sojourn in China, focusing on reintegration into the domestic classroom and into the local cohort of Chinese language students. Previous studies have compared learning outcomes in different contexts—at home versus abroad. Less understood is how students from these divergent contexts converge in the upper level language classroom. Adopting activity theory, the study ethnographically tracks qualitative changes in Kevin's use of narratives from his sojourn experience across a longitudinal database of classroom recordings and participant interviews. As a teaching tool, Kevin's narratives empowered the instructor to achieve various pedagogical goals. However, the learning advantages that had once flourished through Kevin's narrative ultimately gave way to challenges. The findings suggest that students’ different histories of learning can become valuable pedagogical resources if, rather than simply expecting their adaptation, the curriculum and instruction are responsive to their needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-593
Number of pages16
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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