Back-to-the-Future Essays Aid Study Abroad Gains

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Harumi Kimura, Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University; Brenda Hayashi, Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University

Positive long-term outcomes can result from short-term overseas programs despite the fact that past research has not demonstrated tangible language outcomes. In this exploratory study, we investigated how a 2-week interactive, participatory overseas language experience positively impacted a group of Japanese university students. Through mindful participation in a variety of activities, the participants were able to develop life skills, expand their life options, and renew L2 learning motivation. After the program, the students composed “back-to-the-future” essays, which they wrote pretending they were their future selves, writing as if they were looking back on their past. They elaborated their vision and realistically narrated the progress towards the plausible future state they desired to be. The essays could guide them to actively exert agency on learning behaviors they believed match the vision they nurtured in relation to their study-abroad experiences.