You are here

Lost in Translation

Tool Objectives: 
  1. To keep a record of your language learning while abroad.
  2. To empower you to take ownership of your language learning, so as to increase your motivation and likelihood of continuing with the language upon return.
  3. To encourage you to reflect on the linguistic, sociolinguistic, and sociocultural aspects of language learning in context. 
Tool Description: 

One of the most valuable things students can do to boost their language learning potential while abroad is to keep a record of their progress. This assignment requires students to create a language learning journal as a way to keep track of what they do every day as they use the language in both structured and unstructured settings. It will also serve as a record of their first impressions with using the language in context. A second part of the assignment requires students to generate a Top Ten Tips for Language Learning in short-term, education abroad experiences.

Tool Procedures: 
  1. Language Learning Journal.  During their time abroad, require students to keep a journal in which they record daily entries of their progress toward learning the language. A hardcover book is the best. A loose-leaf binder would work but it’s not as sturdy and may not survive the international travel. Determine the exact date the journal will be due, but preferably within two weeks of returning from abroad.

It may be best to avoid requiring a specific structure for the journal, but emphasize that students should make daily entries with as much detail as possible. Recommended sections can include a section in which students lay out their language learning goals, a section in which they note the colloquial usages of the language, and a section in which students reflect on their mistakes in using the language appropriately in context. Additional sections can focus on the acquisitions of new vocabulary, practical usage of new grammatical structures, and space for students to illustrate how the language is used in a visual context. At least one section should allow students space for miscellaneous musings on their language learning.

  1. Top Ten Tips for Language Learning.  Upon return have students reflect on the many ways they went about learning the language during their time abroad.  Have them narrow this down to 3-5 tips for learning the target language.  Merge the students’ lists to create a master list for language learning in short-term, education abroad experiences. Discussing this list in class could be a rewarding way to wrap-up the semester and would be a helpful tool for subsequent student groups.
Tool Evaluation: 

This two-part assignment can be worth up to 30% of the overall course grade: 25% for the Language Learning Journal and 5% for the Tips for Language Learning. The journal should be assessed on a student’s demonstrated effort toward learning the language and the depth and breadth of the daily entries. The tips for language learning should be assessed on their originality and realistic application to short-term, education abroad experiences.

Tool Time Requirement: 

No class time required

Tool Author(s): 

A. Ogden, 2009.

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]: 

Site copyright 2012, University of Kentucky, Education Abroad.
Toolkit Authors: Duarte Morais, Ph.D., Anthony C. Ogden, Ph.D., & Christine Buzinde, Ph.D.
More information about the toolkit authors.

Danland theme modification by Vaughan A. Fielder.