The SLA Grant requires you to maintain a blog of your language learning experiences. In your weekly blog assignments, you will reflect on your experiences during the week as well as four required community interaction tasks.
Follow the links below to complete your Pre-Departure prompts, Blog Entries, and Post-Program Prompts.
During your study abroad period, you should publish at least four journal entries to the SLA 2019 Blog. These should be spread out evenly over your time abroad. You will also have a pre-departure entry outlining your expectations and a post-program entry reflecting on your learning, equalling a minimum of six entries.
In your journal entries, you should reflect on your language learning process and any challenges that you are experiencing in your adaptation to the local culture. You may wish to consider your use of language learning strategies and how these might be applied with more efficacy. In addition, you may also choose to reflect on the role your language coursework plays alongside your daily interactions and language use outside of class.
Please remember that your journal entries will be posted on the SLA Grant Blog page and made public. If you wish to keep a second journal that is private, you are encouraged to do so offline.
In order to systematically approach your journal entries, you are asked to complete four community interaction tasks during your Summer Language Abroad. These tasks are designed to get you out into the local communities and interacting with native speakers. While the required tasks have been limited to four instances in order to accommodate shorter and more intensive programs, you are encouraged to consider completing additional tasks (either from the list below or of your own design) in order to maximize your language development and acculturation while abroad.
Safety note: It is important that you maintain awareness of your safety and security while you are interacting with local community members in the context of these tasks. You should never put yourself in a situation that compromises your safety or security in order to complete these tasks. If you do not feel comfortable completing any of these tasks for safety or security concerns, you may choose to disregard those particular tasks. In such cases, you will simply limit journaling to your everyday interactions.
Community Interaction Prompts (select 4):
- Task 1: Identify 2-3 colloquial/slang words in your target language. Next, find 1) a man and a woman who are 18-25 years old and 2) a man and a woman who are 40-50 years old. Ask each age and gender group what they think about these slang terms. Do they understand them? Are they appropriate to use? In which contexts? Why? Note the differences and the potential cultural implications of their responses.
- Task 2: Identify a current and controversial social topic in the local or national news; select something that is perceived as more of a cultural issue than a purely political one. Next, find three native speakers to interview on this topic. Briefly ask them for their opinions on the topic and explore their rationales. Do not inject your own opinion into the interview and remain objective and respectful even if you do not agree with their statements. Consider how cultural assumptions influenced your perception of events/issues and the responses of your interviewees.
- Task 3: Identify a local and culturally important holiday about which you would like to learn more. Next, locate a tourism office/museum/historical center and ask someone who works there about the historical and cultural significance of the holiday and its origins. After you have spoken to someone in an official capacity, ask the same question(s) to a regular citizen. Were the two accounts the same/similar? Consider the content of the responses and their cultural significance—particularly any differences between the official and layperson versions.
- Task 4: Identify two people who are members of a social/ethnic/racial/economic minority in your country of study. Ask them about their minority status and how they feel that they are treated by the majority members of the community. Note cultural attitudes that influence the treatment of minority communities in your country of study and how these attitudes differ from the US.
- Task 5: Identify a food/dish/cuisine that is unique to your location of study. Go to a local restaurant and order the food. Engage the waiter/restaurateur in a discussion of its ingredients, preparation, and presentation. Ask about the historical or cultural significance of the food. Why is it so popular locally? What distinguishes a good preparation from a bad preparation? Note the culturally-bound attention to food and its role in nutrition, social interaction, and/or national identity.
- Task 6: Interview three people of different ages and genders with whom you are familiar/friendly about their attitudes towards the United States. What is their attitude towards the U.S. in general? Are there specific issues (e.g. foreign policy, government structure, culture, etc.) that they especially like/dislike? What are their rationales for these attitudes and opinions? Do not inject your own opinion into the interview and remain objective and respectful even if you do not agree with their statements. Consider how local cultural values influenced the responses of your interviewees as well as your own (internal) reactions to their commentaries.
In your final blog post, please respond to each prompt below (about 100-200 words each).
- Reflect on your language learning and acculturation during your SLA experience. What insights did you gain into the language acquisition process? How did you engage and understand cultural differences? Did you meet your goals for language learning that you articulated on the blog before you started your program? Why or why not?
- Reflect on your SLA experience overall. What insights have you brought back as a result of this experience? How has your summer language abroad changed you and/or your worldview? What advice would you give to someone who was considering applying for an SLA Grant or preparing to start their own summer language study?
- How do you plan to use your language and intercultural competences in the future? Where do you go from here? How will you maintain, grow and/or apply what you have learned? How might you use your SLA experience during the rest of your academic career and post-graduation? How will your SLA experience inform you as you move forward academically, personally, and professionally?