Confirmed Beliefs or False Assumptions? A Study of Home Stay Experiences in the French Study Abroad Context


  • Wenhao Diao
  • Barbara Freed
  • Leigh Smith



Study abroad, Home stay, Native speaker, Language acquistion, Education abroad, French


What has emerged from what might be called the second generation of study abroad research is the questioning of some of the most long-standing beliefs about the study abroad experience itself. The belief that: (1) the amount and frequency of contact that students have with native speakers will increase their language gain; (2) that study abroad assures immersion experiences for students; and (3) that homestay is the richest and most important source of L2 learning are what motivates this study. The purpose of the research described in this article is to help clarify the extent to which either prior assumptions or recent criticism, which casts doubt on these assumptions, may have been exaggerated or if indeed, there is a balance between the two.


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Author Biographies

Wenhao Diao

Wenhao Diao is currently a doctoral student in Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University. She is primarily interested in language learning in the study abroad context. Her research interests also include qualitative methodologies, discourse analysis, and Chinese as a second language. 

Barbara Freed

Barbara F. Freed is Professor of French Studies/Applied Linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University. Her work is divided between research in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and cultural art history. Within the domain of SLA she has focused extensively on the linguistic impact of study abroad experiences. In the realm of art history, she has directed and produced documentary films

Leigh Smith

Leigh Smith is a professor of European literature and French culture at the Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence France and a professor of English for French students at the French Université de Provence. He has extensive experience teaching in a variety of contexts both in Europe and in the United States. 


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How to Cite

Diao, W., Freed, B., & Smith, L. (2011). Confirmed Beliefs or False Assumptions? A Study of Home Stay Experiences in the French Study Abroad Context. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 21(1), 109–142.



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