This volume explores the relationship between 'study abroad' and the
acquisition of 'sociolinguistic competence' - the ability to communicate in
socially appropriate ways. The volume looks at language development and use
during study abroad in France by examining patterns of variation in the
speech of advanced L2 speakers. Within a variationist paradigm,
fine-grained empirical analyses of speech illuminate choices the L2 speaker
makes in relation to their new identity, gender patterns, closeness or
distance maintained in the social context in which they find themselves.
Using both cross-sectional and longitudinal data, four variable features of
contemporary spoken French are analysed in a large population of advanced
Irish-English speakers of French. This close-up picture provides empirical
evidence by which to evaluate the wide-spread assumption that Study Abroad
is highly beneficial for second language learning.