Jessica.mcdaid@uab.cat 

Year of Study in Programme: First

Supervisor: Dr Eva Codó

Area/Topic of Research: Sociolinguistics, Mobility, Immersion

Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: ‘Doing’ Study Abroad: Managing Oneself through Spanish Adolescent EFL Mobility

Short Abstract:

Immersion education is currently trending in the private Spanish, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) market (Codó et al., 2019), resulting in a plethora of immersion products such as highly customizable packaged EFL learning holidays for all ages. In Spain, EFL study-abroad immersion is a clear reaction to traditional instruction methodologies popularly deemed ‘boring’, ‘grammar-based’ and ‘ineffective’. Moreover, a general lack of confidence in the public education system to ensure a high level of English proficiency has galvanised Spanish families across social classes to take “the problem of English” into their own hands by investing in the private English sector (Sunyol, 2019). This means that English, and its acquisition, have now become part of Family Language Policies (FLP) within the home.

While young Spanish adults belonging to affluent classes have enjoyed immersion holidays throughout the past 30 years, the demand, variety of products, and targeted audience is unprecedented. Consequently, the trajectories of these new immersion-abroad holiday experiencers (from as young as 8) are undocumented, and their voices remain unheard within the literature –particularly from a qualitative, sociolinguistic perspective. This thesis, thus, is unique in its attempt to bridge these gaps through a multi-sited, ethnographic exploration of young, mobilised teens consuming EFL immersion experiences against the backdrop of their parents as investors, and the target immersive context which creates and provides the product.

My study of adolescent EFL mobility is at the intersection of language tourism, the experience economy, good parenting, and lifestyle choices. The goal of this thesis is to unpack how teenage English immersion experiences have become new forms of distinction and class-socialisation among Catalan-Spanish families.