Intercultural communicative competence through the eyes of Turkish university students

Aynur Kesen Mutlu, Yesim Kesli Dollar

Abstract


With increased globalization over the last few decades, the status of English has been recognized as an international language; and thus, the need for an intercultural focus in foreign language teaching has become crucial. Many researchers, concerned with intercultural awareness, intercultural competence, intercultural communicative competence and the integration of intercultural competence into English language teaching, conducted studies in various parts of the world. However, the number of Turkish studies on intercultural competence needs to be increased and the scope of the studies should be broadened as most of the studies focus on teacher perceptions on intercultural competence. This mixed-method study examines the perceptions of intercultural communicative competence by 93 English language learners enrolled in the English Language Teaching Department of three universities in Turkey. The study specifically searches into learners’ perceptions of efficiency of English language courses about intercultural awareness and competence. For data collection purposes, a questionnaire, a semi-structured interview and focus-group interviews were conducted. The quantitative data were analyzed using the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Science) program and the qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis. Findings of the study indicate that English language learners are aware of the importance of intercultural competence; however, they expect to be exposed more to intercultural aspects of English in their English courses. The study reveals that in designing the curriculum and choosing the activities, intercultural aspects should be emphasized more and the teacher should have an active role in helping the learners become aware of intercultural competence. The study also implies that teachers should be involved in in-service teaching programs which aim to (1) provide necessary background on intercultural competence and (2) help teachers integrate their theoretical and practical knowledge on intercultural competence into in-class activities.

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