THE ACQUISITION OF INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION IN A MILITARY HIGHER EDUCATION CONTEXT
Centro Universitario de la Defensa - University of Zaragoza (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In the post-Cold War scenario multiculturality strongly affects the communication of the members of the Spanish Armed Forces not only within multinational and multicultural coalitions but also with a myriad of non-military parties (adversaries, civilian counterparts, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations), complex assemblies of peoples from diverse regions and cultures. In this linguistically and culturally plural context the development of intercultural communication competence, frequently through English, has made the ability of effectively interacting with people across borders a strategic professional competence for the Army. As the lingua franca of high-stakes encounters in supra-national organizations, knowledge of English involves the challenge of developing language proficiency, culture awareness and regional knowledge and expertise. With an ethno-methodological approach, this study seeks to explore how intercultural communication competence is acquired in a military tertiary education institution which imparts a dual academic and military training program. The data presented here were obtained from two sets of questionnaires. The first one is a pre-teaching survey of cadets attitudes towards intercultural communication, which shows their views about the variety of English they want to learn, which English they consider to be a standard, the relationship between language and culture and the elements which facilitate intercultural comprehension. These data are then contrasted with the responses obtained from the second questionnaire imparted to a restricted number of third and fourth year cadets who had received formal training on a military course on tactics in stabilization operations and two academic courses on contemporary history and international relations. The questions about the essential factors of intercultural relations helped to shed light on the effect of training on cadets changing awareness of intercultural communication competence.
Keywords: Intercultural communication competence, military, Higher Education.