The Moral Ecology of Unstructured Speaking on Study Abroad: Finding Speaking Opportunities


  • Matthew Bird The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Stephen C. Yanchar Brigham Young University
  • Jennifer Bown Brigham Young University



Hermeneutic phenomenology, language acquisition, moral realism, study abroad


This report describes the moral phenomena that students in an intensive Arabic study abroad program encountered as they tried to find speaking opportunities for themselves outside of institutional arrangements. The ways that participants went about speaking activities were accompanied by tensions that they had to deal with throughout the program. They found themselves obliged to consider values such as decisiveness, independence, and fairness as they tried to become better conversationalists, cultural insiders, and friends with the people they met. Additional research using the same analytic framework could reveal deeply practical insights for the benefit of language learners and practitioners.

Abstract in Arabic

يصف هذا التقرير تجارب طلاب في برنامج مكثف لدراسة اللغة العربية بالخارج وخصوصاً الظواهر الأخلاقية التي واجهوها في محاولة إيجاد فرص طبيعية للتحدث. تغلبوا على توترات طول البرنامج نتيجةً لطرقهم في أنشطتهم التحدثية. كانوا ملزمين بإعتبار قيم مثل الحسم والاستقلال والإنصاف لكي يصبحوا متحدثين أفضل ومطلعين على الثقافة وأصدقاء الأشخاص الذين ألتقوهم. يمكن البحث الإضافي في نفس المنهج أن يكشف رؤى عملية عميقة لمتعلمي اللغات والمهنيين.


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Author Biographies

Matthew Bird, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Matthew Bird holds a doctorate from Brigham Young University in Instructional Psychology and Technology. He is currently a researcher for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he conducts applied social science studies and evaluations for educational and humanitarian programs.

Stephen C. Yanchar, Brigham Young University

Stephen C. Yanchar is a professor in the department of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah). He is primarily interested in theoretical and philosophical issues in education and psychology, especially those pertaining to agency and learning, qualitative inquiry, and design practices.

Jennifer Bown, Brigham Young University

Jennifer Bown is Professor of Russian and Chair of the Department of German and Russian at Brigham Young University. Her research interests include social and emotional aspects of second language learning.


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How to Cite

Bird, M., Yanchar, S., & Bown, J. (2024). The Moral Ecology of Unstructured Speaking on Study Abroad: Finding Speaking Opportunities. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 36(1), 563–595.



Research Articles