The motto of the conference, “Contexts and Language Learning: Situated Learning in the 21st Century” inspired quite a few contributions on ‘authentic’ situated learning in study abroad contexts that attempted to go beyond the home university instructor-led course abroad (including my own).
The presentation I found most inspiring for our own study abroad students was by Cheryl Toman, Case Western Reserve University, on “ Immigration, the banlieue, and Learning French as a Second Language: A Short-term Study Abroad Experience in France.” Cheryl has been taking her French Studies class, all advanced students, on a three-week trip to the Paris banlieu following a course offered during the academic year at her college in the US. In Paris, instead of classroom sessions she organizes meetings with different population groups, ranging from local high-school students to informal Immigrant groups. She reached out to these various groups almost by accident, simply by writing to a number of institutions and groups hoping for a positive response. And positive they were and most connections are the same as ten years ago when she started the program. Student clearly welcomed this informal setting and despite the short period of time in Paris had a truly ‘authentic Immigrant experience.’