MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication

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Published in October 2011, the IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication is a ground-breaking publication that we believe will set a new standard for study abroad language learning. Written by a task force of 17 language-learning experts from IES Abroad and from international academic institutions worldwide, the easy-to-understand, step-by-step system combines academic classroom instruction with cultural immersion. The result is a holistic approach to language instruction that provides guidelines for students and teachers at each stage of a student’s development.

Why it Matters
Through this process of constantly linking language, culture, and environment, students achieve a more powerful proficiency in the language, gain a deeper, more substantive understanding and appreciation for their host country, and have an enriched, life-changing study abroad experience. No other study abroad organization has created such an innovative, advanced, and systematic program for language learning.

For the first time this publication establishes a transparent pedagogy for study abroad language learning programs that home-campus language faculty can use to advise students before they participate in a study abroad program and to assess students post-program. Since learning outcomes are outlined in great detail for each level, you and your students will know exactly what each of our levels comprises, and will be able to make more informed decisions about credit transfer.

Structure of the MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication
The MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication codifies all that we have learned from 60 years of language instruction, while challenging us to further enhance and deepen the way we teach language in locations around the world. It identifies five distinct levels of language and intercultural communication:

  • Novice Abroad
  • Emerging Independent Abroad
  • Independent Abroad
  • Emerging Competent Abroad
  • Competent Abroad

Each level of competency includes student goals, teacher strategies, and activities that can be used as guidelines or benchmarks for general skills development. The MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication then identifies distinct ways to enhance the student’s language learning at home, at the IES Abroad Center, and in the community.

Implementation and Harmonization across Centers
All of our Centers use the MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication, and the target learning outcomes and course titles/numbers are harmonized for each language level across all programs. 

These enhanced syllabi were reviewed by a subcommittee of the IES Abroad Curriculum Committee in 2013. Faculty have incorporated the MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication in the classroom, and revised course titles and numbers were officially implemented in the 2013-14 academic year.

For an approximate comparison of the language proficiency levels established by IES Abroad, the Common European Framework (CEFR), and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), download this chart:

Learning Outcomes by Language
Course levels and numbers are harmonized across all Centers, but learning outcomes vary slightly by language. Here are the learning outcomes and student profiles for each level, by language:

Day-to-day lessons and activities vary by Center and by course in order to provide our language instructors the freedom to utilize resources in the local communities and employ culturally appropriate teaching styles, exposing students to local culture as only possible during study abroad. Visit individual program pages for full course syllabi outlining coursework.

What This Means for Students
Students' language learning experiences extend far beyond the classroom. Interactions with locals in their homes, at partner universities, on public transportation, in restaurants, and at businesses and cultural sites throughout the city help them develop a greater understanding of the local culture and language. Our faculty and staff provide activities to keep students continually engaged with the community and immersed in the language, and they guide students' language and intercultural skills development by helping them recognize and reflect on these learning opportunities unique to study abroad.

Download or request a copy of the MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication.