Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC)

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the ANUPI 2009 conference with common themes that include ICC and learning competencies. After attending a couple of talks on the subject of ICC, I quickly realized how open-ended these discussions can be. Teacher evaluation and classroom instruction were both addressed in terms of ICC which led me to think how difficult it is to approach culture and language learning in any deterministic way (e.g., cultural antidotes typically found in textbooks). SimilarlyICC as an emergent phenomenon can have it's shortcomings depending on who is providing the input.  For example, if the teacher is the sole "provider" of cultural information, there is a likelihood that students will form both good and bad stereotypes.  Generalizing groups of people will certainly result in misunderstandings should the language learner ever come in contact with individuals with this perceived cultural background.

The way to foster ICC is to create opportunities for language learners to communicate with others, then provide the means for them to reflect on how others are similar and different than themselves.  Instead of generalizing a group of people, learners can articulate individual cultural attributes in an appreciative way.  Thus, the goal is to gain the understandings and dispositions necessary to communicate with others, recognizing the influences that culture has on people and how they communicate.  Ideally, the teacher's role is to facilitate this recognition process as opposed to supplying cultural information through didactic instruction.