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This paper explores the course design process for a study-abroad preparation course for Japanese high school students. The design process yielded valuable teacher insights: the importance of understanding one’s teaching beliefs, the vital need for student and teacher feedback, the benefits of strong classroom community, and the need for better understanding students’ cultural and learning contexts. Interviews with ten former exchange students revealed students’ lack of cultural knowledge of their own and target culture, especially the invisible culture, which had led to misunderstanding and conflict. Students’ inability to express their personal identity adequately in L2 had also led to an avoidance of language use and cultural engagement and a lower self-esteem. Examination of these students’ critical incidents forms the course basis and establishes an awareness of cultural differences and the affective issues facing the learner in the study-abroad context. A syllabus, unit explanations, course teaching materials, and assessment tools are presented.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | International and Comparative Education