ABSTRACT

Linguistic immersion during SA in languages other than English has largely become a matter of choice rather than a natural occurrence as a result of the widespread use of English as a lingua franca and the global personal access to communication technologies. In recent years, initiatives have been developed to support students in benefiting as much as possible from their international experiences. However, the role of learner agency in making the most of study abroad experiences has been relatively unexplored. In this chapter we shed light on the relationship between students’ personal agency and their interaction with L1 speakers. Two cohorts of Belgian exchange students (N = 85) were tracked throughout a five-month compulsory SA programme. During their stay these students were enrolled in an online course called SALSA (short for “Study Abroad Language Support App”) that was designed to enhance learner engagement. After completing the SALSA course, quantitative and qualitative data were gathered with regard to students’ target language interaction. Results point to a significant relationship between students’ agency and the intensity of their interactions with L1 speakers.