Impact of Study Abroad by Cohen and Shively

Summary of the article

The study conducted by Cohen and Shively “Acquisition of requests and apologies in Spanish ad French: Impact of study abroad and strategy building intervention” is focused on curricular intervention influence on the strategies of culture- and language-learning considering requests and apologies. The author highlighted experimental methods in students’ learning approaches; it should be noted that the area of investigation is French and Spanish cultures. The analysis is focused on the conduction of specific experimental approaches; the participants of the study are predominantly students learning Spanish and French as foreign languages for at least a semester. The author managed to organize control and experimental groups in order to conduct statistical data; the involvement of qualitative and quantitative analysis methods was aimed at investigating the students’ rate of speaking who referred to the different types of groups. Foreign language learners were compared with native speakers; the author showed that the unawareness of sociopragmatic norms by non-native speakers resulted in low infractions responsibilities.


The analysis of linguistic strategies being based on experimental method of investigation is considered to be centralized through sophisticated examination of the main concepts used in the process of learning; the study conducted expresses the idea of disclosing the best methods of foreign culture and language learning on the basis of control and experimental groups. The theoretical framework of the analysis is expressed through basic linguistic concepts used for the development of learning methods. The author strived to disclose the qualitative design of speech acts performed by experimental learners living abroad. It should be noted that the objective of the study is the apologies and requests acquisition expressed through study strategies developed for non-native speakers of French and Spanish cultures.

State of the Question

The study is aimed at realization of pragmatic knowledge development in the process of abroad study. It should be noted that the findings organization in the analysis of statistical data can be referred to similar investigations involving the participation of students from English and Russian speaking countries. Thus similar approaches were used on the example of American students studying in Russia. Request strategies used in the study were involved in the role play section of the learning investigation.

The number of study analyses conducted in the sphere of second language learning has shown that language acquisition is to be integrated under the following principle of study:

  • Apperceived input;
  • Intake;
  • Integration;
  • Comprehended input;
  • Output.

Findings of the study presented in the most rational way showed the characteristics of language acquisition influence through innateness means in the process of study. (Gass & Selinker, 1999)

The conduction of study on the basis of apologies acquisition was illustrated by DePoy (1998) who showed the example of English second language learning by French students living in the USA. The author managed to follow the linguistic development of students’ abilities under the influence of cultural interference with their mental formation.

The contribution of the study to the study abroad aspect appeared to be sufficient for the development of language study programs. The research highlighted pragmatic input in the contact between native speakers and foreign language learners stating that individualization of the study programs made students’ interference more complicated; the involvement of speech act method into the process of language learning was aimed at the establishment of receptive abilities development observation. (Gass, 1999)

What is the role of language learning strategies for the students living abroad?… According to Cohen, “The presumed benefit of deploying specific strategies and of taking a strategic (i.e., thought-out and conscious) approach to language and culture learning is that learners will realize gains in their abilities in the target language and in their intercultural skills.” (Cohen, 2007). Pragmatic behavior of the learners in the process of study is considered to be the result of culture and language interaction; apologies, requests and complaints are reflected through the functions of language expression by non-native speakers.

The basic research questions are aimed at the investigation of the method effectiveness connected with study methodologies. What is the impact of apologies and requests in the cooperation between the representatives of different cultures and how are they usually expressed? The control and experimental groups participating in the study appeared to be the reflection of expected findings; second language learners faced psycho-cultural barriers living abroad and trying to go into contact using their target language. (Creswell, 1994)


The methods used in the study are the reflection of qualitative and quantitative one interaction; though it is important to stress that the author sticks predominantly to the qualitative one.

Qualitative method strives to show comparative evaluation between the participants involved in the study. (Creswell, 1994) The usage of qualitative approach in the adequate form demonstrated the opportunity to get a clear picture of intercultural barriers and develop methodologies aimed at second language learning. (DePoy & Gitlin, 1998)

The participant of the study, the students living in French and Spanish speaking states were introduced through group division and their reaction on cultural impact and different sociolinguistic factors experienced under the pressure of foreign cultural atmosphere; they contained 86 students of higher institutions from Minnesota. The selection of the participants and their belonging to experimental or control groups was influenced by general criteria of language learning abilities to conduct appropriate statistical data.

The author strived to identify principle differences between the students’ pragmatic knowledge development of French and Spanish languages; the time period given for the experiment was only one semester of students’ living abroad. The author described the process of treatment for experimental group students as well as control ones.

The instruments of the study are clearly described; they predominantly consisted of questionnaires aimed at the recognition of extra-linguistic factors influence of foreign environment being conducive to second language learning. It should be noted that the instruments also involved role-plays and speech act performances.

Data collection procedures are clearly identified as well as data analysis procedures. The ratings of the analysis involved the results and findings of native speakers’ scores and foreign students in their gradual knowledge development in accordance with 5-rate scale disclosing the impacts of speaker’s requests.


The usage of the qualitative method allowed seeing differences in the performances of speech acts between the learners of French and Spanish languages for the period of one semester. The posttests results of the students’ knowledge appeared to be much higher than those of pre-test. Findings of the study showed that the representatives of experimental group got final score of 37.65 (33.71 in pretest); while the students of control group gained post-test results of 36.79 (34.45 in pretest). The qualitative method allows comparing the rate in pretest and posttest identifying the methodological influence on the learning results.


The analysis of pragmatic development in the process of study abroad managed to reflect the influence of culture and language learning strategies. The second language learning process was mostly based on speech acts and guidebooks study. The author managed to highlight the significance of qualitative method of comparative evaluation.

The methods used in the study can be important for future statistics development in the sphere of linguistic; the study can be a part of new learning strategies development based on the experience of living abroad study and influence of extra-linguistic factors of cultural environment pressure.


Brown, J. D. Understanding research in second language learning. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. 1984

Creswell, J. W. Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Sage. 1994.

Cohen, A. D. and Shively, R. L. Acquisition of requests and apologies in Spanish ad French: Impact of study abroad and strategy building intervention. The Modern Language Journal, 91 (2), 189-212. 2007.

DePoy, E. & Gitlin, L. Introduction to research: Understanding and applying multiple strategies. St Lous: Mosby. 1998.

Gass, S., Sorace, A. & Selinker, L. Second language data analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 1999.