Research Output
A module-based approach to foster and document the intercultural process before and during the residence abroad
  With this presentation we are aiming to contribute to the debate on what form of preparation and support can enhance the intercultural student experience during the Year Abroad.

This paper will present the Studying and Living Abroad course, a credit-bearing and multi-modal module with a two-pronged approach designed to both prepare students prior to departure through a series of workshops and activities on an e-portfolio and help them engage in meta-reflection on intercultural issues during their stay. The overarching aim of the module is presented to students in the following terms: “the module will seek to maximise the benefits obtained from the period of residence abroad. In order to achieve this, you will explore the intercultural aspects of learning and studying in an international environment, identify strategies to improve your communication skills, enhance your ability to address the challenges of international study, and develop your ability to reflect on personal and related development.”

A presentation of the curricular components of the course and instances extracted from student blogs and feedback will be followed by reflections from the teaching team on the role and success of the module in building student resilience and enhancing the experience abroad. These reflections will be situated among context-specific remarks, in particular in relation to the varied profiles of the student body at a Scottish university (home and European students but also a substantial number of first-generation students for whom residence abroad is a ‘big leap’) and the dual intercultural challenge facing the students concerned (an academic challenge since students study abroad to gain ECTS and encounters in the wider cultural environment). The longitudinal development of the module will be commented on and practical considerations such as assessment issues will be discussed. Development of interculturality will also be presented in the wider academic objective of helping students gain graduate attributes.

Currently this course is compulsory for students on language programmes and has been running for three years. As widening access to other academic areas within the university is considered, the paper will end on a discussion of the tailoring requirements for non-language departments which send students for a period of residence abroad.

With its pragmatic stance this presentation will contribute to address one of the concerns recently expressed about intercultural education, namely that although intercultural theories are suitably incorporated in the latest thinking on communicative competence, there is a lack of evidence-based practice.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    12 June 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Penman, C., Ratz, S., & Cebrian, B. (2014, June). A module-based approach to foster and document the intercultural process before and during the residence abroad. Paper presented at IEREST conference: Teaching the intercultural in contexts of student mobility, Bologna, Italy


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