Place-Based ESL Learning: Designing a “Beyond ESL” Study Abroad Program


Universities in Japan and South Korea resumed sending students abroad to improve their English skills, to experience new cultures, to acquire global perspectives, and so forth. An international program at a state university provides a 3-week English as a Second Language (ESL) program focusing on oral communication skills and cultural competency. I received a program request for interdisciplinary students to carry out experiential learning activities outside classrooms, learn presentation skills, and stay abroad for five weeks to meet their scholarship eligibility requirements. In response, I designed a 5-week exploration and research course initially in 2022 and revised it in 2023. I adopted the place-based learning approach, in which students use their residing location as a resource to access locally relevant and culturally significant knowledge through authentic learning experiences (Sobel, 2005) and acknowledges “multiple knowledge sources, meanings, and human-place-animal-plant relationships as valid sense-making tools” (McClain, Chiu, & Zimmerman, 2022). The course started with a series of outings in the community, whose focus ranged from microplastic issues to entomology to stream biodiversity, and students conducted group research and final presentations. This course allowed me to showcase culturally unique community locations and research organizations on campus while students gained knowledge from field experts and research and successfully demonstrated research findings and future implications for their lives back home. Based on course evaluations, this paper will conclude with suggestions for designing a place-based learning course to maximize students’ learning outcomes and areas for future improvements.

Author Information
Saori Doi, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, United States

Paper Information
Conference: IICE2024
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

This paper is part of the IICE2024 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Doi S. (2024) Place-Based ESL Learning: Designing a “Beyond ESL” Study Abroad Program ISSN: 2189-1036 – The IAFOR International Conference on Education – Hawaii 2024 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon