The American gaze east Discourses and destinations of US study abroad

Emma Trentman, Wenhao Diao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The 21st century has seen an emphasis in US media and policy documents on increasing the numbers of US students studying abroad and also the amount of US students studying ‘critical’ languages. This paper examines the intersection of these discourses, or the experiences of critical language learners abroad. We analyze this intersection by using critical discourse analysis to examine US media and policy documents and data from students studying Arabic in Egypt and Mandarin in China. This analysis reveals considerable discrepancies between rhetoric and experience in terms of language and intercultural learning. We argue that a critical examination of current discourses of study abroad (SA) reveals that they in fact recreate the colonial map, mask global inequalities, and create a new global elite. We conclude that language and intercultural learning abroad will remain a source of tension until SA students and programs critically engage with these discourses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-205
Number of pages31
JournalStudy Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 30 2017


  • Arabic
  • China
  • Egypt
  • Mandarin
  • critical languages
  • study abroad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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