Returning to Normal? Reimagining Study Abroad and Language Learning for a Sustainable and Equitable Future

Tracy Quan, Wenhao Diao, Emma Trentman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Due to health and travel restrictions, COVID-19 has presented unusual challenges to international education. Meanwhile, the pandemic has also become a historical juncture overlapping with other political and cultural moments (e.g., renewed Black Lives Matter movement, resurgence of anti-Asian racism, extreme weather phenomena). These events have propelled a reconsideration of the complex relationship between access to and participation in study abroad, language learning, and social and environmental justice. In this paper, we draw on our collective experiences as practitioners and researchers across three languages (Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish) to argue that study abroad must be a part of equitable and sustainable world language education curricula. We begin by reflecting on existing issues related to access and participation in U.S.-based study abroad and the underlying ideologies that reinforce them. We then provide possibilities – within our spheres of influence – to reconceptualize study abroad from critical and translingual perspectives in an effort to contest ideologies and shift towards a more diverse and inclusive study abroad programming. Lastly, we suggest possible ways to better integrate at home, virtual, and study abroad opportunities in language learning curricula, some of which may serve as alternatives to study abroad, especially in an environmentally and politically volatile world where social privilege shapes access to international education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalL2 Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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