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Unit information: Year Abroad TB-2 in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Year Abroad TB-2
Unit code MODL20015
Credit points 60
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Foster
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of Year Two.



School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The Year Abroad is integral to a student’s understanding of their target languages and associated cultures. It is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of a Modern Languages degree, and represents 10% of the overall degree classification. Through either a study or work placement arranged in consultation with the School of Modern Languages (SML), students are immersed into a foreign environment. This immersion is both linguistic and cultural, enabling students to inhabit their target languages on a daily basis and to experience first-hand the cultures in which these are used.

As a formative year of personal development, the Year Abroad moves students beyond the structured learning environment of the seminar room into more independent learning spaces. In turn, students are required to take greater ownership of their learning experiences, whilst at the same time developing the resourcefulness and adaptability that is necessary to living and working abroad.

The Year Abroad enables students to learn and develop substantial new skills and knowledge throughout their study or work placement.

Students should:

(a) gain a high level of proficiency in their target languages in the four key areas of speaking, listening, writing and reading, using formal or informal registers where appropriate

(b) develop a sound knowledge of the cultural and intellectual life of the countries in which they have studied or worked, by living in, and interacting with, these new environments

(c) adapt strategies of language-learning to their personal needs and foster independent study skills

(d) build up greater self-awareness and flexibility by living and working abroad

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the placement, students will be expected to demonstrate:

1. skill and sophistication in both oral and written communication in their target languages

2. understanding of how cultural difference and specificity manifests itself through national and / or

regional identity by applying critical thinking to their experiences abroad

3. individual approaches to language-learning and an awareness of how to manage study projects

4. the ability to adapt effectively and with confidence to foreign environments

Teaching details

Given the experiential learning model of the Year Abroad, there are no lectures or seminars as such.

Learning is conducted primarily through the linguistic and cultural immersion of living abroad, and aided through fieldwork undertaken on site as part of the student’s Assignments (see below) which are independent study projects developed with the support of a tutor.

To facilitate student preparation for the third year of their degree and successful completion of the Year Abroad itself, academic and administrative support is provided as follows:

- one 1hr introductory session (‘Thinking About the Year Abroad’) at the end of Y1 - one 1hr briefing session for each language studied on the Year Abroad options run by the Departments of French, German, Italian, Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies and Russian early in the Y2 academic session.

These briefings will include information on (i) work placements, (ii) study placements; and (iii) British Council Teaching Assistantships

- use of Consultation Hours as required (all students must have their plans approved by the relevant language department before proceeding), - exercises during Y2 language classes, including CV / cover-letter writing for job applications and researching Year Abroad destinations - one 1hr pre-departure briefing and workshop in the spring of Y2, organised by the Year Abroad Officer and the SWAP Team (Study and Work Abroad Placement) from the International Office and, to address practical aspects of the Year Abroad and to brief students on the Year Abroad Essays - pre-departure online tutorials through Blackboard to test key areas of preparation, including personal insurance, health and safety, and risk assessment - During the year abroad itself, individual supervision of student assignments will take place via email / Skype. Students are required to submit an initial written proposal via Blackboard for each essay and receive feedback on this document. Further guidance is provided by tutors throughout the year.

All relevant presentations, handbooks, and other information (annotated examples of successful student assignments, and testimonials from Y4 students) are posted on the Year Abroad Blackboard Site).

Upon departure, students are required to submit Year Abroad Update Forms to the SML Office (shortly after the start of each semester placement), with their Personal Tutor being alerted should any problems arise.

Their Personal Tutor will contact them throughout the year to monitor their progress, and will also be available for academic and pastoral consultation as required. Funding for pastoral visits is available from the International Office Global Opportunities team.

Assessment Details

1 essay (2500 words), written in the target language (usually the language of the country in which the student is spending the placement period): 75% of the unit mark.

1 brief audio / video report (4 minutes in length) in the target language presenting key findings of the essay: 25% of the unit mark

Each essay and video report is on a topic of the student’s choosing, to be decided in consultation with their Essay Tutors in each language department (one of whom will be their Personal Tutor, affiliated to one of those departments).

These assignments must relate to areas of foreign culture which they are experiencing first-hand during their semester placements abroad, and which they can research on site (e.g. the arts; local culture; dialect; national politics, and so on).

The essays will measure the learning outcomes (3) and (4) through (1) and (2), with equal attention given both to the language and content of each essay.

Reading and References

Benson, Phil., Autonomy and Independence in Language Learning (London: Longman, 1997)

Coleman, Jim., Effective Learning and Teaching: Modern Languages (London: Routledge, 2005)

Dickinson, Leslie., Self-Instruction in Language Learning (Cambridge University Press, 1987)

Lidstone, Anna & Caroline Rueckert, The Study Abroad Handbook (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Moon, Jennifer, A. Learning Journals: A Handbook for Reflective Practice and Professional

Development, 2nd ed., (London: Routledge, 2006)

Reuvid, Jonathan, Working Abroad: The Complete Guide to Overseas Employment and

Living in a New Country (Kogan, 2010)