Working Group 3

WG3 ‘Integration and social networks during residence abroad’

Chair: Henry Tyne, University of Perpignan Via Domitia



“Narrative studies of socialisation in transnational mobility and migration”


While student migrants have been the main focus of existing work on study abroad (SA) outcomes, in particular with a view to plotting linguistic gains, we turn our attention here to language learning affordances against a backdrop of international mobility/migration and transnational social spaces (Faist 2000).


Building on the work of Murphy-Lejeune (2000), we look beyond the concepts of “student” and “stranger” to accommodate a range of observations across different settings. Indeed there is a willingness within the Working Group to harness the inherent richness of SAREP in terms of the pan-European settings on offer so as to obtain as rich a picture of the social interactions and (socio-)linguistic progress of learners as possible. Although individual researchers may define groups of learners according to particular external characteristics or measures (target language or languages, age, profession, time spent abroad, etc.) a strong case is made, nonetheless, for a broad approach: SA learners are not referred to as such, but are rather considered as people who experience mobility and/or migration – be it physical or virtual – and who use language(s) as a result of that mobility. Thus an “SA learner” is an individual who has cross-border or intra-European mobility and uses language in a particular way with other individuals as a result of (or to enhance) that mobility or to enhance integration. This approach allows us to consider a range of migrant language users in different settings.

Data and methods

In order to allow as much overlap between contexts and sharing of data within the Working Group, certain types of data are favoured:

* Self-initiated (so-called “ecological”) fixed-period recordings for primary data, backed up by recorded and transcribed commenting sessions

* Diary or logbook (data over a period of time to catch thoughts and feelings, rather than losing information by collecting it retrospectively) which should be backed up by recorded and transcribed commenting sessions

* Ethnographic interviews (either during or post sojourn) designed to enable comparison between individuals, to account for differences of opinion and individual thoughts on given experiences

There is a firm belief in using qualitative methods to tease out questions of identity, purpose, integration, etc. It is contended that the ways in which the individual construes self in relation to other can offer an insightful understanding of networks and how they are formed and operate. A feature emerging from discussions within the Working Group is the importance of gaining emic insight into the “quality” of interactions (i.e. their meaningfulness for the learner, whether they are low or high-skilled, regular or one-offs, virtual or real, etc.).

Time and space

The terms “time” and “space” are seen as being central to the concerns of the Working Group: the time spent doing things, the timespan of the immersion, the age (time of life) at which mobility occurs, the times interactions arise, etc. All these features tend to point to a certain richness in engaging with the community, with time bringing a certain quality of actions and behaviours. Exchange of ideas and different socialisation practices may or may not change during the time spent abroad or engaging in virtual transnational language practices.

If we take language learning in its broadest sense, considering different types of learner and different contexts of stay or study abroad, it is hoped that a more complete yardstick for studying language immersion and social networking while abroad can be obtained as varied (or simply different) patterns of integration and experience serve to enhance current understanding of what it means to live and learn abroad: different types of input and interactions, different discourses (motivations, integration, uses of languages, etc.). This is not to say, though, that long-term migrants are going to learn languages any better than those restricted to short-stay or preconceived mobility – in fact, learning the language may not be a target for these people, and may be considered almost as a by-product. Thus there is a potential paradox insofar as an adult migrant with poor target language mastery may become integrated into the target community through a range of activities (such as schooling of children, buying a house, paying taxes, going to the doctor, work, etc.) whereas the younger learner, who has a greater potential for linguistic mastery, is not necessarily engaging with the target community in such a meaningful way (cf. Mitchell et al. 2017). It is precisely this interplay between personal factors and the role played by language(s) that forms the heart of our investigations: stepping back from the typical SA reification of (student) language users as (student) language learners, the Working Group is concerned with patterns of movement of language users and types of practices, looking at many types of mobility, including virtual, and also long-stay mobility or migration. And it is through this that we come to analyse the role played by language and the various issues that relate to the acquisition and mastery thereof.

With regard to “space” and “spaces”, these are seen foremost in terms of socialisation opportunities and affordances rather than physical setting parameters, and may include different “spatialities” (Raghuram 2013). Virtual communication through IT means as well as the transfer of goods and ideas across borders challenge the travel and geographical mobility perspective.


Transnational migration:

Amelina, A., T. Faist & D. D. Nergiz (Eds.) 2013, Methodologies on the move: The transnational turn in empirical migration research, London: Routledge.

Boyd, M. & Nowak, J. 2012, Social networks and international migration, in M. Martiniello & J. Rath (Eds.), An introduction to international migration studies: European

perspectives, IMISCOE Textbooks, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 79-105,

Faist, T. 2000, The volume and dynamics of international migration and transnational social spaces, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mügge, L. 2016, Transnationalism as a research paradigm and its relevance for integration, in B. Garcés-Mascareñas & R. Penninx (Eds.), Integration processes and policies in Europe: Contexts, levels and actors. IMISCOE Research Series, New York: Springer Open, pp.109-125,

JOMEC journal 7, 2015, special issue on the meaning of migration:

International student migration/mobility:

Paige, R. M., G. W. Fry, E. M. Stallman, J. Josic & J.-E. Jon 2009, Study abroad for global engagement: The long-term impact of mobility experiences, Intercultural education 20: 29-44,

Collins, F. L. 2012, Researching mobility and emplacement: Examining transience and transnationality in international student lives”, Area 44(3): 296-304,

Riaño, Y. & E. Piguet 2016, International student migration, Oxford Bibliographies in geography, Oxford: Oxford University Press,

King, R. & P. Raghuram 2013, International student migration: Mapping the field and new research agendas”, Population, space and place 19: 127-137,

Raghuram, P. 2013, Theorising the spaces of student migration, Population, space and place 19: 138-54,

Hendrickson B., D. Rosen & R. K. Aune 2011, An analysis of friendship networks, social connectedness, homesickness, and satisfaction levels of international students, International journal of intercultural relations 35(3): 281-295.

Theory of social networks:

Carrington, P. J., J. Scott & S. Wasserman 2005, Models and methods in social network analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fuhse, J. A. 2009, The meaning structure of social networks, Sociological theory 27(1): 51-73,

Granovetter, M. 1973, The strength of weak ties, American journal of sociology, 78(6): 1360-1380,

Granovetter, M. 1983, The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited, Sociological theory 1: 201-233,

Second language acquisition:

Dewey, D. P., R. K. Belnap & R. Hillstrom 2013, Social network development, language use, and language acquisition during study abroad: Arabic language learners’ perspectives, Frontiers: The interdisciplinary journal of study abroad 32: 84-110,

Dewey, D. P., J. Bown & D. Eggert 2012, Japanese language proficiency, social networking, and language use during study abroad: Learners’ perspectives, The Canadian modern language review / La revue canadienne des langues vivantes 68: 111-137.

Dewey, D. P., S. Ring, D. Gardner & R. K. Belnap 2013, Social network formation and development during study abroad in the Middle East, System 41: 269-282.

Di Silvio, F., A. Donovan & M. E. Malone 2014, The effect of study abroad homestay placements: Participant perspectives and oral proficiency gains, Foreign language annals 47(1): 168-188.

Durham, M. 2014, The acquisition of sociolinguistic competence in a lingua franca context, Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Fernández, J. & A. M. Gates Tapia 2016, An appraisal of the Language Contact Profile as a tool to research local engagement in study abroad, Study abroad research in second language acquisition and international education 1(2): 248–276.

Isabelli-Garcia, C. L. 2006, Study abroad social networks, motivation, and attitudes: Implications for SLA, in M. DuFon & E. Churchill (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts, Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 231-258.

Jackson, J. 2008. Language, identity, and study abroad: Sociocultural perspectives. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing Ltd.

Magnan, S. & M. Back 2007, Social interaction and linguistic gain during study abroad, Foreign language annals 40(1), 43-61.

Martinsen, R. A., W. Baker, D. P. Dewey, J. Bown & C. Johnson 2010, Exploring diverse settings for language acquisition and use: Comparing study abroad, service learning abroad and foreign language housing, Applied language learning 20: 45-66.

Murphy-Lejeune, E. 2000, Student mobility and narrative in Europe: The new strangers, London: Routledge.

Mitchell, R. 2015. The development of social relations during residence abroad, Innovation in language learning and teaching 9(1): 22-33, doi:10.1080/17501229.2014.995762.

Mitchell, R., N. Tracy-Ventura & K. McManus 2017, Anglophone students abroad: Identity, social relationships and language learning, London: Routledge.

Mitchell, R., N. Tracy-Ventura & K. McManus, 2015, Social interaction, identity and language learning during residence abroad, Eurosla Monographs series 4,

Norton, B., & Toohey, K. 2011, Identity, language learning, and social change, Language teaching 44(4): 412-446, doi:10.1017/s0261444811000309,

Pérez-Vidal, C. 2014, Language acquisition in study abroad and formal instruction contexts, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ranta, L. & A. Meckelborg 2013, How much exposure to English do international graduate students really get? Measuring language use in a naturalistic setting, The Canadian modern language review / La revue canadienne des langues vivantes 69(1): 1-33.

Shiri, S. 2015, The homestay in intensive language study abroad: Social networks, language socialization, and developing intercultural competence, Foreign language annals 48(1): 5-25.

Shiri, S. 2015, Intercultural communicative competence development during and after language study abroad: Insights from Arabic, Foreign language annals 48(4): 541-569.