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Assessing Intercultural Language Learning

The Dependence of Receptive Sociopragmatic Competence and Discourse Competence on Learning Opportunities and Input

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Veronika Timpe

Although Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) has become a key objective in foreign language (FL) education, curricula offer little in how language teachers can promote ICC through language instruction. This book responds to the challenge of how intercultural language learning can be accounted for more profoundly in FL teaching. By means of innovative intercultural assessments, the author investigates the development of three language competences central to ICC in relation to learning opportunities as experienced by German learners of English. Audiovisual media were found to be a major input factor in the development of intercultural language abilities. The book ends with a discussion of how audiovisual media can be implemented in secondary and tertiary FL and teacher education.
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Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) has become a key objective in foreign language education in Europe in general and Germany in particular (Kultusministerkonferenz, 2012). In recent years, policy makers have included intercultural objectives in curricula, leaving teachers faced with the challenge of promoting the acquisition of ICC through their teaching. This is true for teachers of a variety of subjects, but it is particularly true for teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL). All English language educators in Germany – from primary to upper secondary level – are now expected to foster the development of ICC among their learners, enabling them to use English as a means of communication with people from different cultural backgrounds. However, although ICC is a central objective, EFL curricula offer little in how language teachers can promote ICC through language instruction.

By investigating systematically the three language competences included in Byram’s (1997) Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence – linguistic, sociolinguistic, and discourse competence – this book responds to the challenge of how intercultural language competences can be accounted for more profoundly in English language teaching (ELT). Within the particular cross-cultural framework of German-U.S.-American English, this study investigated the development of these three language competences in relation to learning opportunities as experienced by 105 L1 German university-level learners of English (N = 105). To that end, the first part of this study dealt with the development of appropriate test instruments in order to (a) operationalize and measure sociolinguistic competence (i.e., American English Sociopragmatic Comprehension Test) and discourse competence (i.e...

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