Paper 7: Are intercultural communication and intercultural competence teachable/learnable in the University context?
Boguslaw Ostrowski, Newcastle University, INTO
Learning intercultural competence in the classroom has been investigated with English classes of international students where up to half-a-dozen nationalities may be represented in a group of 15 language learners (Rajendran and Ostrowski, 2011). Using a simple visual tool such as diamond ranking charts, students are asked to hierarchically order a series of 9 or 10 options relating to a particular theme. The method has been used in schools (Woolner et al., 2008), but its application in HE has not been widely reported. Diamond ranking can be used across the curriculum to engage students in discussion on topics which are directly apposite their mutual interests.
Listening to others’ views, giving one’s own views, and reaching a compromise point of view, which is then defended with another pair/group, provides exposure to many different opinions. These processes reflect several of the observable behaviours detailed in the “Graduate Pledge” (Reid et al., 2010), which lists competencies desired of global students emerging from an internationalised HE sector, including: building rapport, contributing despite imperfect language proficiency, making yourself understood, attentive listening, and self-awareness.
By means of scoring the responses of individual students/pairs, negotiated change between re-constituted pairs/groups can be broadly measured, and inferences of the degree of change in opinion that has taken place can be made.