Intercultural Communicative Competence and Short Stays Abroad: Perceptions of Development
The idea of interculturality being an essential part of a language learner’s toolkit is widely accepted. Less certain is exactly what interculturality is and how to determine who has it, who does not have it and, importantly, how to get it: this book is concerned with these questions. The work presented here explores the concept of intercultural communicative competence as an aim of foreign language learning. It examines in particular the role of student mobility and how short stays abroad affect higher education students’ perceptions of their development of this complex competence. It explores the coinage of the term intercultural communicative competence and the current debate regarding its definition, usage and usefulness. The work then moves on to describing an empirical study in which students who are studying English at a German university participate in an eight-week short stay abroad to the English-speaking world and are asked about their perceived development of intercultural communicative competence and the ways in which their expectations for the stay abroad are met. Developing intercultural communicative competence is an institutional aim of the stay abroad, and therefore the ways the participants make sense of this competence are of interest. Through case study research and quantitative questionnaires data are gathered, analysed and described. The study shows that even a short stay abroad helps develop intercultural communicative competence albeit in individually different ways.