Reflections of Own Vs. Other Culture: Considerations of the ICC Model

Reflections of Own Vs. Other Culture: Considerations of the ICC Model

Eiko Gyogi (Akita International University, Akita, Japan & SOAS, University of London, London, UK) and Vivian Lee (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea)
DOI: 10.4018/IJBIDE.2016070102
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The purpose of this paper is to critically examine Byram's Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) model (Byram, 1997), one of the most influential models particularly in language education in Europe, from a pedagogical perspective. Although the model has opened up various innovative and creative teaching practices beyond a model that uses the native speaker as a goal in language learning (e.g. Byram, Nichols & Stevens, 2001; Coperías Aguilar, 2007, 2009), his conceptualization of “culture” has been criticized by various scholars as being a rather static and discrete entity, particularly as it is based on national boundaries (Block, 2007; Dervin, 2010). This study examines the conceptualization of “own” and “other” cultures in Byram's model from local pedagogical practices based on the data obtained from two different foreign language classrooms, an English classroom in a Korean university and a Japanese classroom in a UK university. The data from both classrooms show some degree of both fixity and fluidity in the illustration of “own” and “other” cultures. This study argues that, despite the pedagogical contributions of Byram's model, the categorization of “own” and “other” cultures can pose problems in interpreting fluidity and ambiguities identified in both classrooms. This study also points to the risk that the continuous use of his current model could result in reproducing fixed categories of “own” and “other” cultures by the teachers themselves. While acknowledging the ICC model's pedagogical contributions, this study argues the need for a pedagogically viable model that does not rely on binary distinction between “own” and “other” cultures.
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Intercultural competence has been a much debated topic since the 1970s and 1980s. Around that time, governmental, educational, and business sectors recognized that successful communication cannot be guaranteed by linguistic fluency alone, but requires intercultural readiness (Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009, p. 9). In the field of language pedagogy, Byram’s (1997) model of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) is considered to be one of the most influential models of intercultural competence, especially in Europe. He proposed the intercultural communicative competence model comprising of five components as follows in Table 1(p. 34):

Table 1.
Factors in intercultural communication
interpret and relate
(savoir comprendre)
of self and other;
of interaction:
individual and societal
political education
critical cultural awareness (savoir s’engager)
relativizing self
valuing other
(savoir être)
discover and/or interact
(savoir apprendre/faire)

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