Background to the formation of our SIG
Intercultural communication (IC) has seen an explosion of interest in recent years. Training programmes proliferate, particularly those aimed at business people. The number of programmes in intercultural and cross-cultural communication in higher education worldwide has shown exponential growth: in the UK in 2000 there were none – now there are at least 12 postgraduate programmes with IC as a sole or major component.
Over the past decade, the central importance of appropriate ‘culture learning’ has been increasingly stressed by applied linguists (e.g. Clare Kramsch, Mike Byram, Helen Spencer-Oatey) with an interest in the interface between language, thought, social interaction and language learning. This interest has been driven by perceptions that intercultural contact and interchange worldwide are greater than ever, necessitating approaches to understanding and brokering potential difference through communication. From this position, language learning is the best place within the educational field for the learning of and about culture, reflecting the powerful associations and interrelationships between language and culture. The nature and salience of such associations centre on the linguistic relativity hypothesis, currently enjoying a resurgence of interest in applied linguistics.
A BAAL SIG in IC provides a forum for applied linguists, business trainers, language teachers and the wider public to engage in debate about the nature and potential application of key concepts in the field. Its area of interest and aims are distinct and different from the other BAAL SIGs.
Foundational work for the SIG began before the BAAL/CUP Seminar ‘Key Themes in Intercultural Communication Pedagogy’ in July, 2009, which attracted over 40 participants from around the world. (For more information please visit CUP’s Applied Linguistics website: Featured Topics>Intercultural Communication)
Dissemination since, not least at the BAAL 2009 Conference at Newcastle in September2009, has produced 10 people committed to helping organise the SIG during the 1 year consultation period required by BAAL.
On Monday 24th January 2011, the Exec Committee of BAAL
decided to ratify the IC SIG status and we are now accepted as a full SIG of the association!