Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

Problematizing Intercultural Communicative Competence in Language Teaching and Learning

Souad Boumechaal, University of Leeds (United Kingdom)


In light of students’ international mobility, intercultural communicative competence (ICC) has become the new buzzword in language teaching and learning. Language teaching practitioners contend that the importance of ICC to learners’ success in the increasingly global and virtual world is undeniable. ICC is generally defined in terms of five ‘savoirs’ (Knowledge, attitudes, critical cultural awareness, skills of interpreting and interacting) [1]. These skills are said to be prerequisite for successful international communication [1] [2]. Despite several attempts in contemporary literature to establish an encompassing model of teaching ICC, a coherent understanding of how this new concept relates to classroom pedagogical practices is still lacking.  This paper, therefore, addresses two interrelated facets of teaching ICC. First, the theoretical framework underpinning ICC models [1] [2] in foreign language learning (FLL) will be critically discussed. While doing so, this paper will endeavour to meticulously theorise the concept of ‘interculturality’. Furthermore, I will critically review the three key movements in teaching ICC [3] : ‘cultural’,‘intercultural’, and ‘critical intercultural’ turns which have been the point of contention in ICC literature.  Secondly, the practical facet of teaching ICC will be further examined through discussion of findings from data gathered over a 3-month periodParticularly, teachers’ perspectives about ICC and its implications to language classroom practices will be revealed. Results will also explore the challenging nature of teaching ICC and the pedagogic issues it raises given the inconclusiveness of the existing teaching models [4]. Finally, data from semi-structured interviews with teachers will be compared to the ICC movements discussed in the literature to show how a specific pedagogic orientation might not always be a personal pedagogic choice for teachers to make [3] but it is rather determined by macro contextual factors such as institutional curriculum and teacher training.

Keywords: Intercultural communicative competence, language teachers’ perspectives, critical pedagogy.

[1] Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon, England;Philadelphia;: Multilingual Matters.
[2] Deardorff, D.K. (2006). Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education. 10(3), pp.241-266.
[3] Crozet, C. (2017). The Intercultural Foreign Language Teacher: Challenges and Choices. In: Diaz, M.a.A.R. ed. The critical Turn in Language and Intercultural Communication Pedagogy.  New York and London: Routhledge.
[4] Dervin, F. (2010). Assessing intercultural competence in language learning and teaching: A critical review of current efforts. New approaches to assessment in higher education. 5, pp.155-172

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