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Studying Abroad, a "Hands On" Approach to Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  Whatever methods, schools of thought, or priorities we give students in the classroom, two important components of the “study abroad experience”: language and intercultural experiences are present both in the classroom, during field study and even when students are not in school. They essentially are the glue of the entire experience. Language and Intercultural Learning Study abroad permits students to experience first hand intercultural relations (and culture shock in most cases) and use their language abilities. 12 In terms of language, whether for those with advanced or not so advanced language abilities, the ability to speak a language in a setting which encourages students to think and speak globally is essential to their own futures and perhaps even to “American competitiveness.” 13 Personally, I encourage students to use their experiences living with French families and in the French classroom to maximize their language abilities. An intensive language period is particularly useful to get the ball rolling (particularly when it includes cultural differences as well as language tools). These language tools are also necessary for those that seek to do specialized graduate school work. Cultural differences are often the first realizations made by students when they step off the plane. In the first days after their arrival, our students learn about cultural adaptation through a workshop as their observations and their acceptance or rejection of the host culture is singularly sensitive. These experiences obviously do not end the first week and specific instances of “cultural differences” can be incredible learning experiences whether it is in the host families in which they live, in the metro or in the classroom. In France more specifically this year the strikes or ‘greves” have included students in the traditional political culture of the country in a way that learning through books can not, by including this in classroom discussions or putting aside time to discuss the issues with students, they learn more about their environment and the politics of their host country outside 12 13 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/education/edlife/studyabroad.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=foreign +legions&st=nyt&oref=slogin 12

Authors: Sheppard, Elizabeth.
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background image
Whatever methods, schools of thought, or priorities we give students in the classroom,
two important components of the “study abroad experience”: language and intercultural
experiences are present both in the classroom, during field study and even when students are
not in school. They essentially are the glue of the entire experience.
Language and
Intercultural Learning
Study abroad permits students to experience first hand intercultural relations (and
culture shock in most cases) and use their language abilities.
In terms of language, whether for those with advanced or not so advanced language
abilities, the ability to speak a language in a setting which encourages students to think and
speak globally is essential to their own futures and perhaps even to “American
competitiveness.”
Personally, I encourage students to use their experiences living with
French families and in the French classroom to maximize their language abilities. An
intensive language period is particularly useful to get the ball rolling (particularly when it
includes cultural differences as well as language tools). These language tools are also
necessary for those that seek to do specialized graduate school work.
Cultural differences are often the first realizations made by students when they step off
the plane. In the first days after their arrival, our students learn about cultural adaptation
through a workshop as their observations and their acceptance or rejection of the host culture
is singularly sensitive. These experiences obviously do not end the first week and specific
instances of “cultural differences” can be incredible learning experiences whether it is in the
host families in which they live, in the metro or in the classroom.
In France more specifically this year the strikes or ‘greves” have included students in
the traditional political culture of the country in a way that learning through books can not, by
including this in classroom discussions or putting aside time to discuss the issues with
students, they learn more about their environment and the politics of their host country outside
12
13
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/education/edlife/studyabroad.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=foreign
+legions&st=nyt&oref=slogin
12


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