INTEGRATING INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMMES: A CASE STUDY INVOLVING A LANGUAGES FOR BUSINESS UNDERGRADUATE COURSE
Coventry University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:The current drive towards the internationalization of educational programmes is leading to new pedagogical approaches that include some form of collaboration among students of diverse languages and cultures. The popularity of the Internet and the global availability of networked information sources together with computer mediated communication (CMC) have led to a strong demand for competence building and knowledge creation in language and intercultural learning using a learner-centred, collaborative approach.
Within the context of language learning and teaching, the developing field of “telecollaboration 2.0” (Guth & Helm, 2010) involves the use of Web 2.0 tools in order to facilitate online student interaction and team work across the world. The affordances provided by telecollaboration are particularly useful when there is a need for integrating intercultural competences into the curriculum as is the case in learning and teaching Languages for Business. In an increasingly interconnected business world, future graduates need to be able to effectively negotiate interactions with groups and individuals from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
The paper presents initial findings of an Online International Learning (OIL) project entitled “Spanish for Business: Exploring Intercultural Communication”. The project involves UK and French learners studying Business Spanish modules in their courses. The aim of the project is to offer students an international experience in the first year of their undergraduate courses through the development of effective international teams using the target language (Spanish) as the means of communication in order to raise their cultural awareness and understanding of different cultural perspectives.
From a pedagogical standpoint, this OIL project is integrated within the Business Spanish modules and the approach taken incorporates methods which fall under the headings of activity-led learning, self-directed learning, task-based learning and team-based learning.
Presenting students’ collaborative work and outcomes, this paper will address the benefits and challenges encountered by students during the online collaboration and examine their perceptions of the experience. The paper concludes with a discussion on the issues arising from the first year of the project’s implementation and suggests strategies to overcome these issues.
Keywords: Intercultural communicative competence, online international learning, Spanish for Business, team-working, telecollaboration, learner-centred teaching.