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Intercultural Communicative Competence

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Peer Che Faire

on 3 May 2014

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Transcript of Intercultural Communicative Competence


Sociolinguistic Competence
Linguistic Competence
Discourse Competence
Intercultural Competence
Grammatical Competence
Linguistic Competence
Discourse Competence
Strategic Competence
Interpreting & Relating
Discovery & Interaction
Critical Cultural Awareness
Grammatical Competence:

Sentence level grammar forms (lexical, morpholical, syntactical, phonological features).

Linguistic Competence:

Ability to apply knowledge of the rules of a standard version of the language to produce and interpret spoken and written language

Sociolinguistic Competence

the social rules of language
turn-taking, appropriateness of content, politeness conventions, nonverbal features of language use

Discourse Competence

Ability to connect a number of utterances to form a meaningful oral or written text.

Strategic Competence

Coping strategies, such as paraphrasing
Ability to get meaning across even though there might be a deficit in the linguistic competence

Knowledge (declarative and procedural)

Knowledge of social groups and their cultures in my own country and similar knowledge of my interlocutor's country (declarative).

relational knowledge (acquired through comparison)
e.g. items of dress or modes of greeting, social group fractionation, historical backgrounds

Knowledge of the processes of interaction at individual and societal levels (procedural).

knowledge of how to act in specific circumstances
linked with the skills of interpreting and relating and the skills of discovery and interaction

Skills of Interpreting & Relating

Ability to interpret a document or event from another culture
Ability to relate this to documents and events to my own culture

Draws upon existing knowledge

e.g. an article including the call for equal rights for women is revolutionary in Saudi-Arabia but nothing too special in Europe.

Skills of Discovery & Interaction

Skill of Discovery:
Interaction with interlocutor not necessary (can work with documents only).
Ability to recognize significant phenomena in a foreign environment and to elicit their meanings.
e.g. function of the pub (and the barkeeper) in the UK.

Skill of Interaction:
Obviously needs interaction with an interlocutor.
Ability to manage constraints in particular circumstances with specific interlocutors and ability to operate knowledge, attitudes and skills in real-time communication.
e.g. mediating skills, small talk, discussion

It is the function of establishing relationships, managing dysfunctions and mediating which distinguishes an intercultural speaker, and makes him/her different from a native speaker.


Pre-condition for successful intercultural interaction! These are attitudes of:

Relativising my own experience
Valuing other's experiences
Curiosity and openness

They need the ability to "decentre" (Kohlberg) - in an extreme case this can lead to re-socialisation (subjective reality gets dismantled and re-constructed according to new norms).

Relativising my own experiences can also happen through comparison.
The more advanced the attitudes, the better the skills work!
Critical Cultural Awareness

Ability to evaluate critically on basis of explicit criteria, perspectives, practices, products in my own and in an other culture.

Acquired through the acquisition of the 4 competences mentioned above (Knowledge, Skills of Interpreting and Relating, Skills of Discovery and Interaction, Attitudes).


Deconstruction of stereotypes
Critical evaluation of one's own and another one's culture instead

The Intercultural Speaker
The intercultural speaker ...

establishes relationships,
manages dysfunctions and

can be a host or a sojourner.

Educational Context
Fields of Learning
Independent learning
Modes of Assessment
A threshold for ICC?
Interpreting & Relating
Discovery & Interaction
Antecessing and Influential Concepts
Communicative Ability (van Ek)
Cross-Cultural Compentence
(Ruben & Gudykunst)
Communication and Interaction
(Bourdieu & Christensen)
Communicative Ability (van Ek)

comprises six competences:
(meaning in context)
(communication strategies)
(knowledge of the language's culture)
social competence
(will + skill to interact)
The power in social interaction is placed in the hands of the native speaker (ns seen as a model).

Tendency to view the learner as an incomplete native speaker.
2 kinds of reason for criticising the use of the native speaker as a model:

Pragmatic reason
: It means creating an impossible target and consequently inevitable failure - cf. maintaining motivation through experiences of success

Personal reason
: It means creating a speaker who is linguistically schizophrenic by suggesting separation from one's own culture and the acquisition of a native socio-cultural competence and a new socio-cultural identity. This can mean psychological stress which may be permanently damaging!
"The more desirable outcome is a learner with the ability to see and manage the relationships between themselves and their own cultural beliefs, behaviours and meanings, as expressed in a foreign language, and those of their interlocutors, expressed in the same language - or even a combination of languages - which may be the interlocutor's native language, or not." (Byram, p.12)

This means: Communication should be seen as human interaction, not just as exchange of information!

In human interaction every participant brings in his own world to the situation to then co-create a common world!
Cross-Cultural Competence (Ruben)

Three facets:

Relational-Building and Maintenance Competence
(= establishment and maintenance of positive relationships)
Information-Transfer Competence
(=transmission of information with minimum loss and distortion)
Compliance-Gaining Competence
(=persuasion and securing an appropriate level of compliance)
Psychological description

Focus on skills in interpersonal relationships

Business background

Expands and adds detail to van Ek's sociocultural competence
The competent communicator (Gudykunst)

Three psychological components:

(for a sense of a common shared world, for symbolic / material gratification, to sustain our
self-conceptions, ...)

(includes cultural and linguistic knowledge, knowledge of how to gather information, knowledge
of understanding differences/similarities, knowledge of alternative interpretation of behaviour, ...)

(to reduce uncertainty and anxiety, ability to adapt, ability to make predicitons and explanations of
other's behaviour, ability to be cognitively aware of the process of communication rather than the intended outcome, ...)
Social Distinction (Bourdieu)

"Within a society, power is differentially held by different social groups. They ensure that access to membership, to a field of activity, is carefully controlled by requiring would-be members to have specific cultural capital, which can be acquired only in particular educational institutions."
(Byram, p.16) - A further development of Marx

Beneath the strongest of the divisional principles, the economical division, there are other principles of division as well: ethnic, religious or national principles for instance.

This means:

Culture is nothing static, but s.th. dynamic, that get's negotiated within the society and within its particular groups.
Culture is more than one particular set of beliefs, behaviours and meanings dominant in a specific group of society that is usually a powerful minority (because the well educated powerful minority sets the values for the dominant idea of a society's culture since they bring the most acquired cultural capital to the table).
Method over Object Approach (Christensen)

FLT should not introduce learners to a 'culture' (as described by Geertz), because a combination of particular beliefs, behaviours and meanings only represent the dominant interest of a powerful minority.

"The quest for culture as essence and object has to be abandoned in favour of method, i.e. a process of investigation where every single encounter potentially involves different values, opinions and world-views." (Byram, p.18)

This means: "Their own cultural capital, even if not dominant in their own society, is valued in any interaction, as is the cultural capital of their interlocutors." (Byram, p.18) - Particularly important for learners who do not have access to the dominant culture in their own or another society and who are therefore not attracted by the world which FLT offers them.

"The implication of this interactionist view is that FLT should not [only] attempt to provide representations of other cultures, but should concentrate on equipping learners with the means of accessing and analysing any cultural practices and meanings the encounter, whatever their status in a society.
" (Byram, p.19)

This idea of culture opposes Geertz's (1975) definition of culture as

an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in a symbolic form by means of which men communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about attitudes towards life."
(Byram, p. 18)

Advantages of the Method over Object Approach (Christensen)
(cf. Byram, p.20)

Method ensures that the
of a society only in terms of the
dominant elite
culture is

The emphasis on method
learners for
with cultural practices which have not been presented to them and, in the case of the lingua franca, cannot be anticipated (because Arabs speak English too).

Through learning methods of analysis learners can be encouraged to
the ways in which particular cultural practices and beliefs maintain the social position and power of particular groups. The analysis can become critical.

The analysis can be
, turning learner's attention back on their own practices, beliefs and social idenitites - and the groups to which they do or do not belong. This analysis too can be

The native speaker, especially if part of the dominant group in society, has the power of exercising power over the foreign speaker. The focus on method allows learners to see their role not as imitators of native speakers but as social actors engaging with other social actors. In this interaction, both interlocutors have a significant but different role, and the foreign speaker who knows something both of the foreign culture and of their own, is in a
of power at least
to that of the native speaker.

Skills of Discovery & Interaction

Skills of Interpreting & Relating




Curiosity & Openess
Ability to decentre


of relationships among different perceptions of one's own and another culture (declaritive), and
relationships in the processes of individual and societal interaction (procedural).
including knowledge of the processes of intercultural communication (learning about multidimensional communication).

Focus on relationships between cultures implies a
comparative method

Skills of Interpreting and Relating
documents or events
Knowledge and skills are interrelated ('know that' and 'know how')
(e.g. techniques of telecommunication)

Not possible in the classroom: developing skills of Discovery and Interaction (only in simulation)

Has a prospective and retrospective relationship with the classroom

Allows the development of the
Skill of Interaction

Greatest Advantage: Opportunity to develop
which include the ability to cope with different stages of adaption, engagement with unfamiliar conventions of behaviour and interaction, and an interest in other cultures.

Distinguished from independent learning by a


determined by the teacher (or in consultation with the learner, as in a project).

e.g.: Airport project, a short visit organised by a teacher for a group of learners, who continue to work as a class with their teacher
Independent Learning

a factor in long-life learning.

can be subsequent to and simultaneous with classroom and fieldwork.

opportunity for learners to become autonomous in their capacity for refining and increasing their
(experience becomes learning).

especially provides opportunity to develop skills of
discovery & interaction
Skills (Interpreting & Relating)
Skills (Discovery & Interaction)

Skills (Interpreting & Relating)

(t & l)
Skills (Interaction)

(t) & l

Modes of Assessment for attitudes (examples)

Willingness to seek out or take up opportunities to engage with otherness in a relationship of equality, distinct from seeking out the exotic or to profit from others.

Choice of representation of daily life of a foreign culture to use it as a basis for explaining the other culture to an interlocutor from their own culture.
Test and/or portfolio.

Willingness to question the values and presuppositions in cultural practices and products in one's own environment.

Choice of other evaluations of phenomena in own society, then comparison and evaluation.
Test and/or portfolio
Modes of Assessment for knowledge (examples)

Knowledge of historical and contemporary relationships between two countries.

Knowledge of national memories.

: Knowledge of social distinctions in a foreign culture / society.

Evidence (same for all):
factual knowledge elicited by question and answer,
deep learning knowledge elicited by techniques requiring comment and analysis

(test, continuous assessment, not self assessment)
Modes of Assessment for skills of interpreting & relating (example)

Ability to mediate between conflicting interpretations of phenomena. The intercultural speaker can use their explanations of sources of misunderstanding and dysfunction to help interlocutors overcome conflicting perspectives, can help interlocutors to identify common ground and unresolvable differences.

Written mode (A commentary to a translation) or real-time interaction (mediating between two interlocutors)

test and/or continuous assessment as for assessment of knowledge

The Assessment of Skills is closely linked to the assessment of knowledge. Procedural knowledge ('know how') automatically is linked with declarative knowledge ('know that').
Critical Cultural Awareness
Modes of Assessment for Critical Cultural Awareness (examples)

Clarifying one's own ideological perspective and engaging with others consciously on the basis of that perspective.


Comment, Analysis, ...
Critical Cultural Awareness is the product of all the other components, so evidence will be found in the products of the individual components. Mainly through self-assessment though.

, because Critical Cultural Awareness requires self analysis)

Modes of Assessment for skills of discovery & interaction (example)

Ability to identify contemporary and past relationships between one's own and the other culture and society.

The intercultural speaker can use sources (self chosen - e.g. reference books, newspapers, histories, experts) to understand political, economical and social relationships between cultures and societies, and analyse the differing interpretations involved.

portfolio and/or fieldwork

Needs a capacity of
abstract thinking
which is often only developed in
post-adolescence. Where learners have not acquired this degree of reflection, teachers can select evidence on their behalf.

Children's and Young adult
(opportunity of identification)

Virtual and face-to-face
encounter projects
(e-mail, exchange): getting to know phase important, cultural similarities in forefront (rather than differences)


(films, texts, internet, authentic material)

working with
in class


Skills of interpreting and relating

that allow
to achieve a change of perspective.

Creative writing
(writing new endings, writing from the perspective of a minor character).

Role plays
to change perspective.
Skills of discovery and interaction

virtual and face-to-face


chat rooms


role plays

Critical Cultural Awareness

critical comparisons

critical comparison how Australian and German society deals with immigration
A threshold for ICC

from context to context,

in terms of which


A threshold for ICC has to be defined for each context and is not a stage on the way to the goal, but the goal itself, i.e. the ability to function as an intercultural speaker.
The relationship of language and culture
cultural reality
cultural reality
cultural reality
Language expresses cultural reality

The words people utter refer to
common experience

People refer to a
stock of knowledge
about the world that other people share.

This knowledge contains facts, beliefs, and attitudes.
=people within share the
same concepts and scripts
(cognitive theory)
Language embodies cultural reality

Members of a community or social group not only express,
but also
create experience
through language.

people use words (incl. para-lingual components of language)

Through all its
verbal and non-verbal
aspects, language embodies cultural reality

Language symbolizes cultural reality

themselves and others through their use of language

They view their language as a
of their
social identity
(e.g. working class accent)

The prohibition of its use is often perceived by its speaker as a rejection of their social group and their culture (cf. Russian in Ukraine)

The relationship of culture and nature
Nature and culture can be contrasted with each other:

refers to what is born and
grows organically
refers to what has been grown and

by biological
(everything that grows decays, dies and vanishes some day)
not bound
by biological
(culture forces nature to reveal it's essential potentialities to conserve it)
This is a process of
(selecting the essential). The technology culture uses for this is the techology of the word:

The technology of the word, or printed syntax and vocabulary, selects among the many potential meanings only those that best express somethings
innermost truth
- and leaves all others unsaid.

The word and the technology of the world have


This means:
culture and nature both need each other!

"The screws that language and culture impose on nature "
Social Dimension (Discourse communities)
The double effect of culture
Culture both
people from anonymity and the randomness of nature, and
them by imposing on them a structure and principles of selection.
Discourse communities (social dimension of culture)

(in interaction with other group members) members of a social group acquire common ways of viewing the world.

These common attitudes, beliefs and values are reflected in the
members of the group use language (language embodies cultural reality)

In addition to the notion of speech community (shared linguistic code), we can speak of
discourse communities
to refer to the
common ways
in which members of a social group
use language
to meet their

Every discourse community has got its own
discourse accent
(e.g. different ideas of politeness in American English and British English).
Historical Dimension
Imagined Dimension
"sociocultural context in language study"
Historical dimension of culture

The culture of everyday practices draws on the culture of
shared history
and tradition.

The people in a community
themselves with the way the community
its past (e.g. different ways of remembering WWII in Germany and Britain).

This can be called the historical dimension in a group's identity.

It is
in the community's productions over time - its art, technological achievements, its monuments, its popular culture. These can only be
kept alive
if art collectors, novelists, travel agents, tourist guides etc. write and talk about these materials though.

Language is not a culture free code
- it plays a significant role in the
(i.e. maintenance) of culture.

Imagined dimension of culture

Discourse communities are characterized not only by facts and artifacts, but by
common dreams
, fulfilled and unfulfilled imaginings (e.g. the American Dream, egalité, fraternité, liberté in France, Independence from Britain in Scotland)

These imaginings are
mediated through language
(in books, leaflets, advertising on TV, through the internet).

This means: Language is intimately linked not only to the culture that was, but also to the culture that might be - the culture of the imagination that
governs people's decision and actions
far more than we may think.

Group identity
Policy of recognition
Policy of recognition
(hegemonic effects of dominant culture)

To identify themselves as members of a community,
people define insiders and outsiders

This means: Culture, as a process that both
, always entails the exercise of power and control.

Problem: Only the
whose values and beliefs will be deemed worth adopting by the group, which historical events are worth commemorating, which feature is worth imagining.

, and especially national cultures, resonate with the
voices of the powerful
, and are filled with the
silence of the powerless

Policy of recognition
(hegemonic effects of dominant culture)

At the same time,
culture is heterogeneous

Members of the same discourse community all have
different biographies and life experiences

A community is not only fractionated by its cultural capital, but also by its social and economical capital. Furthermore by their age, gender, ethnicity and political opinions.

And culture is
changing over time

Since memberships and requirements of membership are being constantly (re)
, culture is a dynamic and changing thing.

Cultures are heterogeneous, constantly changing and the site of struggle for power and recognition.
Pedagogical Problem: What representation of a culture is to choose when teaching culture?
Method over Object Approach
cultural identity
cultural identity

the connection between
cultural identity

there seems to be a natural connection between the language spoken in a discourse community and this community's identity.

But: in modern, historically complex, open societies it is much more
to define the
of any particular social group and the linguistic and cultural identities of its members (e.g. Second Generation Turks in Germany).

Despite the entrenched belief in the 'one language = one culture' equation, individuals assume
several collective identities
(cultures are heterogeneous, fractionated by ethnicity, religion, etc.).

cultural stereotypes
cultural stereotypes

Group identity
is not a natural fact, but a
cultural perception
- also our perception of someone's social identity (also within a discourse community) is very much culturally determined.

This means: What we perceive about a person's culture and language is what we have been
by our own culture to see, and the
stereotypical models
already built around our own culture (hence the comparative method in FLT when it comes to stereotypes - in comparing stereotypes, the learner becomes aware of his/her own stereotypical concepts).

Group identity then is a question of
of ethnic, racial and national
or stereotypes.

European identities
have traditionally been built much more around language and national citizenship ('one nation = one language = one culture notion') than around ethnicity or race (cf. awareness of race in the U.S.).

language crossing
Language crossing as act of identity

Since modern cultures are heterogeneous, the notion 'one nation = one language = one culture' doe not work anymore (e.g. Second Generation Turks in Germany).

Through a mix of languages (
language crossing
) these people can
their own "
cultural identity blend
" - this happens by
of elements from one language into another, be they isolated words or whole sentences.

Language crossing enables speakers to change footing within the same conversation, but also to
show solidarity or distance
towards the discourse communities whose languages they are using, and whom they believe their interlocutors as belonging.

By crossing languages, speakers perform cultural acts of identity.

4 step task sequence (Müller-Hartmann / Caspari)

Create curiosity
- Motivate and involve learners
make them curious about the other culture(s)
help them to engage with other cultural practices

Create awareness of own
- culture and cultural practices

Discover the other
- Help learners to change perspective
make learners discover and understand other cultural practices
teaching cultural knowledge (declarative) can become necessary (through other learners or teacher)

- Make learners compare
realizing similarities and differences
learners evaluate own and other cultural practices (critical cultural awareness)

Language & Culture
Topic: ICC with a focus on the policy of recognition


FLT should not introduce learners to ‘a culture’ when teaching ICC, because a combination of particular beliefs, behaviours and meanings only represent the dominant interest of a powerful minority.

1. BYRAM’s model of ICC – focusing on the intercultural competence

In his model of ICC BYRAM supposes to teach knowledge (of culture) (procedural and declarative). This leads to the question what culture actually is and how it is being represented.

2. Policy of recognition

Culture is more than one particular set of beliefs, behaviours and meaning. In fact, a well educated powerful minority sets the values for the dominant idea of a society’s culture because they possess most cultural

3. Consequences in FLT: the ‘method-over-object approach’

Cultures are heterogeneous, constantly changing and the site of struggle for power and recognition. This dynamic and multidimensional model of culture leads to the pedagogical question ‘what representation of a
culture is to choose in FLT?’ The answer is a change of approach: FLT should not only provide representations of other cultures, but should concentrate on equipping learners with the resources of accessing and
analysing any cultural practices.

4. Conclusion

I have come to the conclusion that by choosing the ‘method-over-object’ approach, the representation of a society in terms of the dominant elite culture is undermined and prepares learners for encounters with
cultural practices which have not been presented to them and, in the case of the lingua franca, cannot be anticipated.

Byram, Michael
(1997): Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Clevdon: Multilingual Matters Ltd

Müller-Hartmann, Andreas & Schocker-v. Ditfurth, Marita
(2009): Introduction to English Language Teaching.
Stuttgart: Klett, pp. 109-120

Müller-Hartmann, Andreas & Schocker-v. Ditfurth, Marita
(2011): Task-Supported Language Learning. Padderborn:
Ferdinand Schönigh, pp. 168-188

Kramsch, Claire
(1993): Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 205-232

Kramsch, Claire
(2000): Language and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-14; 65-82
Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) with a focus on the policy of recognition
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