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LANGUAGES IN CONTACT: MOTIVATING STUDENTS IN CANADA AND THE BASQUE COUNTRY TO BUILD CROSS-LINGUISTIC COMMUNITIES USING HOME STAYS AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

A. Restorick1, G. Elordi2, M. Olazar2, J. Tennant1, A. Barona2

1The University of Western Ontario (CANADA)
2University of the Basque Country (SPAIN)
This paper examines the motivational effects of a language exchange between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadian students, and proposes implementing a similar model into the Basque school system in Spain. The co-existence of two linguistic communities in these regions makes the motivation to learn the language of the other community a primary force responsible for enhancing or hindering intercultural communication and affiliation, giving way to a necessity for bilingual education.

A follow-up study was conducted one year later in order to gauge the success of the aforementioned exchange. The English-speaking participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire divided into two parts. The first part of the questionnaire solicited information directly related to the exchange experience as well as the students’ motivation to pursue further contact with French. The second part of the questionnaire consisted of a standardized test instrument administered before and after the experience. This mini version of Gardner’s Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) makes up part of the Gardner motivation theory [1] and takes into account integrativeness, attitudes toward learning situation, motivation, and language anxiety.
Preliminary results suggest that even though the exchange did not encourage the participants to pursue French as a subject in school, many were motivated by the experience to learn more about French-Canadian culture, consider future exchange possibilities, and keep in contact with their partners via virtual communication such as texting and Facebook.

Although The Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada (SEVEC) surveys participants immediately after completing one of their government-funded exchanges, no longitudinal studies exist in the literature regarding their long-term motivational effects. By expanding this pilot study to accomplish such a task, funding could be increased and more Canadian teachers could be persuaded to organize a SEVEC exchange within the context of their classroom curriculum. On a more global scale, the publishing of positive results could convince other linguistically diverse regions such as the Basque Country to secure funding and model a program after the Canadian one. Due to the geographical proximity of Basque and Spanish speakers, traveling expenses for exchange participants would be low, but the need for cross-linguistic community building high.

References:
[1] Gardner, R.C. Social Psychology and Second Language Learning: The Role of Attitudes and Motivation. Great Britain: Edward Arnold, 1985.