Communities of Practice in Study Abroad

a four-year study of an Indonesian student's experience in Japan

Tae Umino, Phil Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


This 4-year case study used a photo-elicitation approach to language learning history research in an individual case study of an Indonesian student's experiences of communities of practice while studying abroad in Japan. The study showed how the student's opportunities for interaction in Japanese were at first limited by his peripheral participation in institutionally organized communities of practice that consisted of international students and local Japanese support staff. Toward the end of his 4 years, however, the student succeeded in becoming a central participant in an informal self-organized community of practice that consisted mainly of local Japanese friends, who were more supportive of his interactions and language development. The study also shows how earlier experiences of peripheral participation scaffolded the student's later experience as a central participant. Photographs taken by the student over the 4 years were both a valuable source of data on the nature of his participation in communities and a stimulus to reflection that enriched the language learning history data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-774
Number of pages18
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • community of practice
  • longitudinal study
  • photo-elicitation
  • study abroad

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