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Assessing Intercultural Language Learning

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


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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Chapter II: Theoretical Background and Contextualization: ICC


This chapter constitutes the first part of the theoretical background for the current study, including a literature review of one of the two central fields of this study: intercultural communicative competence. Beginning with an overview of the broad field of intercultural communicative competence, I will first consider the interconnectedness between language and culture in order to provide the theoretical stance in terms of the main concepts that will be under investigation within this study. Then, I will review a number of frameworks and models of ICC conceptualized in the areas of communication studies and second/foreign language education, thus providing a brief historical overview of the developments in the field of ICC, building up to a rationale for the model which is used in this investigation. Ultimately, ICC assessment and the challenges connected with it will be reviewed and discussed.

In the preface of his co-edited 1991volume The Pragmatics of International and Intercultural Communication, Jan Blommaert raised a key question for the study of intercultural interaction: ‘How much culture is there in intercultural communication?’ Even though, as Spencer-Oatey and Franklin (2009) pointed out aptly, it is impossible to answer this question precisely, it is essential to consider the relationship between language and culture in order to obtain a better idea of the close and mutually-influential interconnectedness between language and culture. In this chapter, I will review the issue from an applied linguistic perspective.

Language has often been referred to as the “key to a culture” (e.g...

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