How Preservice Teachers’ Study Abroad Experiences Lead to Changes in Their Perceptions of English Language Learners


  • Adriana Medina
  • Jennifer Hathaway
  • Paola Pilonieta



Study Abroad, Preservice Teacher Education, English Language Learners, Perceptions, Education abroad


This qualitative study examined 16 preservice teachers’ (PSTs) perceptions of “others” before 2 months in Germany, compared perceptions upon return, and attributed shifts to experiences abroad. Data sources were surveys, interviews, and reflections. Transformation theory served as the theoretical lens. PSTs’ pre-travel experiences related to not fitting in, cultural differences, and gender. Abroad, PSTs faced cultural differences and questioned their culture. Perceptual changes centered around language and culture. Changes were based on empathy, advocacy, and an understanding of ELLs. Implications offered are for interpreting experiences in light of teaching, benefits of faculty-led programs, and the use of study abroad to experience otherness.


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Author Biographies

Adriana Medina

Adriana L. Medina is an Associate Professor of Reading at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research interests include adolescents who struggle with literacy, teacher education, and educational program evaluation.

Jennifer Hathaway

Jennifer I. Hathaway is an Assistant Professor of Reading at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research interests include the development of teachers’ beliefs, teacher education, and professional development for teachers.

Paola Pilonieta

Paola Pilonieta is an Associate Professor of Reading at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research interests include teacher education and early literacy, in particular comprehension instruction.


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How to Cite

Medina, A., Hathaway, J., & Pilonieta, P. (2015). How Preservice Teachers’ Study Abroad Experiences Lead to Changes in Their Perceptions of English Language Learners. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 25(1), 73–91.



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