Whether spent studying or working, the residence abroad is a compulsory component of almost all language degrees in the UK. One of the key aims of the residence abroad is to help students acquire a greater understanding of a new language and culture and to develop research skills. While the acquisition of linguistic competences has been well-documented, the academic dimension of the year abroad is less researched. The view that residence abroad is primarily about increasing linguistic and cultural competence can obscure the broader benefits of the year abroad to both students and teachers.
The introduction of the new fee regime within Higher Education has focused attention of the content and importance of the compulsory residence abroad component of language degrees in HEIs across the UK. The current government has also raised concerns regarding foreign language competence across the UK workforce, while simultaneously emphasising the importance of internationalisation with the HE sector.
The Ethnographic Encounters Project seeks to innovate the academic disciplinary content of the Modern Languages curriculum, embedding critical and reflexive research skills into the residence abroad period, which will equip students with a unique set of research skills and competences that they can transfer into a range of different contexts and employment scenarios.
It is hoped that the innovative learning and teaching tools developed in this project, and made available on this website, will disseminate good academic practice that can be taken up by other HEIs, and can support the key government policy agendas within the UK.
Information about Ethnography at the University of Southampton.