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Shaping intercultural competence? Creating a virtual space for the development of intercultural communicative competence

By W. Anderson and J. Corbett


This chapter focuses on the discursive construction of intercultural communicative competence (ICC), as evidenced by students’ interactions in an online forum that spans three continents. The forum, Intercultural Connections, is run through the Moodle virtual learning environment by a group of facilitators coordinated by the two authors at the University of Glasgow. Intercultural Connections currently involves participants predominantly based in Scotland, Argentina and Taiwan. The participants in Scotland are mostly undergraduates, both UK and European exchange students, who are completing a final year course entitled Culture and English Language Teaching at the University of Glasgow; the participants in Argentina are students of English based in La Plata; and the participants in Taiwan are medical students at Kaohsiung Medical University who are learning English as part of their programme. The facilitators provide a framework of tasks for participants to undertake to promote the learning of ICC. <p/>The chapter reflects on how the participant interactions instantiate ICC, formulated by Byram (1997) the Council of Europe (2002) and Risager (2007) as a set of resources, skills and competences. The chapter also explores to what extent these native and non-native speaker forum interactions provide evidence of developing ICC over the course of an academic session. The dataset for the analysis is primarily a set of asynchronous online exchanges that have taken place on the site over several years with successive groups of participants. The textual data will be extracted to form a small focused corpus which will be analysed against a reference corpus of data from the British National Corpus. Analysis will take into consideration corpus-derived keywords and collocates. Alongside this asynchronous data, we also consider the role of synchronous chat sessions, and data from short interviews with selected participants focusing on their experience of their developing skills of interaction, discovery, evidence, curiosity and decentring through online intercultural exchange. The chapter considers the difficulties of assessing ICC based on textual evidence, and highlights challenges to the model of ICC

Topics: P1, PE
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2012
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Enlighten
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