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Study abroad culture is constantly changing (Kinginger, 2013), involving new challenges such as easier access to the first language culture via technology. There has been little research done on technology use abroad and its relationship with both linguistic gains (Coleman & Chafer, 2010; Kelly, 2010) and motivation (Allen, 2013; Irie & Ryan, 2015). To explore the role of motivation in developing a successful study abroad culture in the digital age, we documented technology use in the first language and second language of 15 college students during their summer sojourn in Argentina. We quantitatively evaluated participants’ motivation (Gardner, 1985; Ushida, 2003) and proficiency (Seibert Hanson & Carlson, 2014), and qualitatively analyzed their responses to open-ended questions about goals and culture shock. We found that higher motivation levels were correlated with greater linguistic gains and less technology use in the first language (specifically internet-related). Lower motivation levels matched increased technology use in the first language, and perceptions of failure to achieve study abroad goals and integrate into the host culture.


This article was originally published in The Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Special Issue: 19, 2 (2016): 64-84