ABSTRACT

The focus of this chapter is on language-related affordances as exemplified through learner narratives. We examine the emergence of affordances arising from first memorable encounters during study abroad (SA) and their impact on subsequent language contact. Adopting an ecological perspective, affordances can be construed as a reconceptualisation of input whereby learner perception and interaction with the environment co-construct opportunities for language use and ultimately learning. Narrative inquiry into students’ accounts provides knowledge of affordances not accessible through more objective measures of language contact. We use a taxonomy of affordances adapted from Kyttä (2002) to analyse various outcomes in ten students from four different nationalities studying in a university in the south of France. We show how differential student experiences shape the subjective SA experience. Findings highlight the importance of the learners’ internal factors and agency in their interaction with affordances. Even when environmental factors combine to present a constraining affordance, learners can draw on their internal resources and investment in the SA experience to reshape the environment and construct new affordances.