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Impact of Stay Abroad on Language Skill Development: Regression discontinuity evidence from Japanese university students

Yuki Higuchi, Makiko Nakamuro, Carsten Roever, Miyuki Sasaki and Tomoko Yashima

Discussion papers from Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)

Abstract: The importance of English communication skills has been increasing with globalization, and the governments in various countries have encouraged students to go abroad. However, the causal impact of overseas stays has been little investigated, particularly in non-European countries. This study adopts a regression discontinuity design to the Japanese government’s flagship scholarship program for studying abroad. We found that the scholarships significantly increased the probability of the scholarship recipients living overseas for a period by 40 points. By comparing the students placed close to the cutoff, we found that the scholarship increased English proficiency by 12% (or 0.42 standard deviation), measured by a multiple-choice test we originally developed. We also found that the scholarship significantly improved the participants’ international posture scores and the perceived communication competence in a foreign language, which are the two traits found as important determinants of future development in language ability in applied linguistics literature.

Pages: 32 pages
Date: 2022-09
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