School’s Out for the Summer: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Second Language Learning in Informal Settings
Feuer, A. (2009). School’s Out for the Summer: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Second Language Learning in Informal Settings. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.
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This ethnographic, cross-cultural study used a dialogic, sociolinguistic framework to describe learning processes in portraits of three immersion summer camps in the eastern United States. Using the data collection techniques of in-depth interviewing, participant observation and textual analysis, the study examined the process of second language learning and ethnic socialization through linguistic and cultural activities at two Chinese and one Hebrew summer day camp for children ages 4-12. Informal alternatives to standard learning elements such as the “classroom;” “student;” “teacher;” “curriculum;” “textbooks;” and “tests” within the four language learning skill sets were observed and analyzed. Participants described positive language learning and social outcomes as a result of: voluntary participation in task or project-based activities; modeling using authentic materials and native speaking role models; wide-ranging learning methods with an emphasis on physical activities; and language and social mediation through dialogue and relationships with junior counselors and counselors-in-training.