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Increased Cultural Interaction During the International Experience : Enhancing the Homestay ACTFL - 2004. Barbara Schmidt-Rinehart Ashland University & Susan Knight Central Michigan University. The Homestay. The Research Project I & II Three Perspectives Research Project III

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Increased Cultural Interaction Duringthe International Experience:Enhancing the HomestayACTFL - 2004

Barbara Schmidt-Rinehart

Ashland University


Susan Knight

Central Michigan University

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The Homestay

  • The Research Project I & II

    • Three Perspectives

  • Research Project III

    • Enhancing the Homestay

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    • Cuernavaca

    • Guadalajara


    • Segovia

    • Sevilla

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*I & II: Three Perspectives:

  • The Host Family

  • The Students

  • The Housing Directors

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*Las familias

  • Selection process

  • Demographics

  • Placement

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The Interview

  • In the home

  • 90 minutes

  • Recorded

  • Interview Questions

    • “Question guide”

    • “semi-structured”

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Data Analysis:Interviews, Questionnaires, Evaluations


QSR Nud*ist



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  • What Type of Student Adjusts Best?

  • Adjustment Period/Length of Stay

  • # of Students in Home

  • Facilitating Student Adjustment

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Not at alla lot

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  • Frequency

  • Most cited problems in literature

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Not at all -------------a lot

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  • Lack of communication

  • Lack of independence

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  • Benefits

  • Shortcomings

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Not at all A lot

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Further study:

  • Composition of the family

  • # of students in home

  • Orientation process

  • Other housing options

  • Family/student interaction*

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*Research Project III: a Task-based Study to Increase Interaction

  • Project Design

  • Results

  • Recommendations

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*Project Design:

  • Procedures

  • Subjects

  • Tasks

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  • Pre-experience: on campus orientation

  • In-country: Family Interaction Journal

  • Post-experience: task-group questionnaire & returned packets

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  • Number

  • Country

  • Selection

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*Tasks: Family Interaction Journal:

  • Time log

  • Task-based activities

    • Conversation

    • Project

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Time log

  • Instructions to students:

    Document your interaction with the family each day. Jot down how much time you spent with them and the topics you discussed.

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Task-based activities

  • Selection of tasks

  • Procedures in-country

    • Complete tasks

    • Record in journal

      • Description

      • Evaluation of interaction

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Personal History

Leisure Time



Driver’s License

Dating Practices

Educational System



Current Events

Conversation Tasks

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Ask for Directions

Invite for Coffee

Go to a Movie

Go Grocery Shopping

Learn Children’s Songs

Play a Game

Attend a Sporting Event

Visit a School

Go to Church

Project Tasks

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Sample Conversation Task : Holidays

Talk to your family about how your favorite holiday(s) is (are) celebrated in the U.S. As in all of your interactions, be sure to ask your host family similar questions – what is his/her favorite holiday? How is it celebrated? What are the differences/similarities in how we celebrate?

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Sample Project Task : Play a game

Talk to a member of your family about games they play—card games and board games. Show them a game that you play and learn one of their games. Have them help you write down some of the steps for the description section below.

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  • Time log

  • Comments from Family Interaction Journal

  • Questionnaires

  • Post-experience interviews

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*Time log

  • Time varied greatly

    • Range: 2.1 to 8.7 hours/week

    • Mean: 4.7 hours/week

      • Spain mean = 3.3 hours/week

      • Mexico mean = 5.39 hours/week

  • Both groups spent more time on Conversation tasks than on Project tasks.

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Journal comments:

  • Greater understanding of each other

  • Increased language learning

  • Increased interaction

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Journal comments suggesting greater understanding of each other

  • I felt this was a good way to get to know her daughter, who I haven’t really talked to yet

  • Marimar was excited to tell me all about her school and future plans

  • (learning children’s songs) I had fun with this because it was funny to see my host family singing and dancing in the kitchen.

  • This was an excellent task because the whole family was interacting . . . I think it brought us closer.

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Journal comments suggesting increased language learning

  • Went much better than last week. Communication beginning to flow better (personal history)

  • This task seemed to go a lot more smoothly because they could actually show us what to do (game)

  • I can’t even believe how smoothly conversations are going now. I rarely have to think in terms of translation anymore and it’s so much fun (holidays)

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Journal comments suggesting increased interaction

  • Now we watch soap operas together

  • We ended up going back a total of 3 times (grocery shopping)

  • I asked them if we could play some games later (personal history)

  • I think it brought us closer- now we have something in common….now we are invited to family Bible study every Friday

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*Questionnaire results

  • No significant difference between Task and No-Task groups on questions


  • No significant difference between Task and No-task Groups on questions 21 and 22

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*Post-experience interviews

  • Students who did tasks liked them would recommend it again

  • Suggestions:

    • Different tasks for different proficiency levels and for summer vs. semester students

    • Additional project and conversation tasks (e.g., tour around city, going to a family event)

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Problematic issues with project:

  • Self-removal from study

  • No …

    • Incentive

    • Accountability

    • Consequences

  • Technology availability

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Conclusions & Recommendations

  • Involvement of sites and families

  • Tasks:

    • Some students did not complete the tasks. Perhaps a time-log would be sufficient.

    • Having tasks may help certain personality types more than others

    • Different tasks for summer and semester groups / different levels of language proficiency

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Further reading

  • Questionnaire and Power Point on-line:

    "The homestay component of study abroad:  Three perspectives".  Foreign Language Annals, 2004. Schmidt-Rinehart, B.C. & Knight, S.M.

    “Enhancing the homestay: Study abroad from the host family perspective”. Foreign Language Annals, 2002. Knight, S.M. & Schmidt-Rinehart, B.C.

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Increased Cultural Interaction During the International Experience