Chapter 1. Contributions of study abroad research to our understanding of SLA processes and outcomes

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Central to research on second language acquisition (SLA) has been the question of the potential effects of learning conditions on rate of acquisition and final attainment, with enough publications to allow for meta-analyses (Norris & Ortega 2000; Spada & Tomita 2010; Li 2010). Typically, the specific learning conditions themselves, whether implicit or explicit, have been motivated either by research on cognitive psychology – memorization vs. rule search, for example – or have been pedagogical in nature – grammar explanation or type of feedback. As of late, however, the field has been reconsidering the breadth of those external conditions to include research on Study Abroad as a special context characterized by an uninstructed (i.e. implicit) component that may or may not combine with an instructed (i.e. explicit) component. With this, research on Study Abroad – the topic of the present volume – has moved to a central place in SLA research. This chapter introduces the SALA Project as an example of the contributions that research on study/stay abroad can make to our understanding of how second languages are learned.


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