Fostering English Learners' Intercultural Competence and Multicultural Awareness in a Foreign Language University in Northeastern China

Fostering English Learners' Intercultural Competence and Multicultural Awareness in a Foreign Language University in Northeastern China

Lili Qin (Dalian International Studies University, China) and Theresa D. Neimann (Oregon State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch062
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Abstract

Strategic leadership needs to address the improvement of multicultural awareness of foreign language learners in China in order to enhance students' intercultural competence (IC). As part of strategic leadership and management this should be one of the foremost tasks of foreign language education in the context of globalization. An analysis of the following factors: needs of society, school, teacher and students with consideration to Taba's 7-step curriculum design theory, led the researchers to conclude that the implementation of a series of innovative intercultural communication (IC) courses, called 4-D (four-dimension) IC modules which included Intercultural Communication Theory module, Chinese Culture module, World Cultures module (cultures from different countries) and Comparative Methodologies of Chinese & Western Cultures module was the defining factor that led to multicultural awareness. The curriculum was oriented to multicultural awareness development and carried out in a foreign language university in northeastern China. The result demonstrated that student IC awareness increased comparatively slight, without the training of the above courses, while that of the students participating in the courses was significantly higher, which means the expected goal of upgrading the IC of foreign language talents has been achieved.
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Introduction

Today, in the era of globalization, it is vital that students in higher education are exposed to opportunities such as international experiences. Companies are targeting foreign markets much more as a result of the saturation of domestic markets. This trend of globalization changed the employee selection procedures as the vast majority of firms are looking for personnel who are at least bilingual, have a university diploma and qualified to do business travel both domestically and abroad (Hugenberg, LaCivita, & Lubanovic, 1996). In 2010 the China State Council published the State Guidelines for Medium-to-Long-Term Education Reform and Development Plan between 2010 and 2020 which proposes the foreign language human resource development strategy will implement overall quality education in China, “to nurture more internationally qualified personnel with international vision who have a good knowledge of international conventions and are capable of participating in international affairs and international competitions” (Ministry of Education, 2013).

It is acknowledged by many scholars that curriculum development in the area of foreign language education is not simply limited to the development of language ability. It also involves the enhancement of intercultural communication competence (ICC). Considering the current situation of foreign language education in a foreign language university in northeastern China and to achieve the anticipated goal of increasing the IC of foreign language learners, this study seeks to provide a model that surpasses the traditional framework of the current bicultural model between native and target cultures in intercultural communication education. This study ran a series of creative intercultural competence development, or ICD courses in Dalian International Studies University and developed multicultural awareness of foreign language learners. The newly created model of intercultural communication education is called “4-D” (four dimension) ICD modules which includes four modules in the course setting, namely, Intercultural Communication Theory Module, Chinese Culture Module, World Cultures Module (involves cultures from different countries) and Comparative Studies of Chinese & Western Cultures Module.

The longitudinal research was implemented for one term in order to meet the demands of College English Curriculum Requirements enacted by China Ministry of Education in 2007. The following study was carried out from the analysis of the current use of ICD courses in China and moved along to the needs analysis, course content design, syllabus design and teaching evaluation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Internationalization: Inter-national means between or among nations and refers to the increasing importance of international relations, international trade, treaties, alliances, etc. ( Cao, 2011 ).

Intercultural Communication Theory: A framework of assessing successful intercultural interactions by employing culturally appropriate attitudes, knowledge, skills, internal and external outcomes ( Deardorff, 2004 ).

CET-4 & CET-6: The CET test-takers are undergraduates in China, who are majoring in any discipline except English. Students who have completed the College English Courses Band 1 to 4, usually second-year students, take the CET-4. Those students who have completed the College English Courses Band 5 to 6 and have passed the CET-4, usually third-year students, take the CET-6. Test-takers of the CET-SET must be undergraduates who have either passed the CET-4 with a score of at least 550 or passed the CET-6 with a score of at least 520 ( Zheng & Cheng, 2008 , p. 408).

Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC): Refers to the ability to communicate with people from other cultures successfully and by developing proficiency in a second language ( Fantini, 2006 ). It is also the ability to execute communication behaviors in order to elicit a desired response in a specific environment and the capacity to adapt one’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors to communicate openly and flexibly to other cultures ( Alred & Byram, 2002 ).

Intercultural Awareness: The subjective feelings, such as emotions that one applies toward other cultures ( Yang, 2009 ).

Intercultural Competence Development (ICD): Based on a subfield of communication competence, requires insights and awareness drawn from both language and intercultural areas ( Deardorff 2004 ; Fantini, 2006 ).

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