The Subjective Dimension
The essays in this volume explore the subjective dimension of intercultural language learning, ranging from theoretical considerations to empirical studies and providing stimulating insights into this important area of study.
Measuring the Unmeasurable: On the Objective Assessment of Subjective Learning
Intercultural competence is a notion that has become part of day-to-day life in South Africa, a country which could, in fact, be said to require ‘hypercultural competence’1 (Trompenaars/Wooliams 2009: 442). This is not only due to the fact that one cannot assume homogeneity in shared cultural characteristics (cf. Leeds-Hurwitz in Nakayama 2010: 22), but also due to South Africa’s linguistic and cultural diversity – 11 official languages and the right to mother-tongue education are enshrined in the constitution.2 The subjective dimension of intercultural learning, while not necessarily explicitly dealt with, is certainly implied or perhaps taken for granted in much of the literature; it thus remains a rather vague and nebulous aspect of foreign language teaching and learning; one which I, a teacher of German Studies in an English-medium university in South Africa, have only recently begun to reflect on in my own practice.
Intercultural competence (henceforth ICC) has, to date, generally been viewed as a happy accident alongside the often more content-orientated aspects of our foreign language teaching and learning, namely language acquisition (grammar and vocabulary), literature, and fact-based ← 243 | 244 → Landeskunde. Interestingly, the fourth component in our German Studies degree, translation, is not unlike ICC in that it is often regarded if not as the poor relative, then as a skill that develops almost as a by-product.3
In an effort to conceptualise and explore this subjective dimension in particular, the route of trying to formulate evaluation or possibly assessment tasks seems worthwhile, as...
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