From Teaching to Learning: Challenging Assumptions in Intercultural Communication.

Kennedy, Fionnuala and Furlong, Áine (2008) From Teaching to Learning: Challenging Assumptions in Intercultural Communication. [Conference Proceedings]


This paper shows how research around the well-established approach of tandem language learning (Little and Brammert 1996, O’Dowd 2003), and learner autonomy (Ushioda 1999) inspired the development of an innovative concept that merges Intercultural Communication theory, language learning and reflection. The concept challenges current practice that isolates Intercultural Communicative Competence and language learning/use from each other. It also questions the assumptions that language learners will automatically avail of language opportunities presented by the multicultural third-level campus.The TaLLICo project promotes real intercultural dialogue between Erasmus and Irish students. It also provide participants with a lived experience which injects meaningfulness into the concepts associated with intercultural communication theory. The following findings emerged from analysis of student reflective reports:• Increase in motivation to improve and use the language• Discovery of the own culture through reflection on self and otherness • Overcoming anxiety of intercultural exchange. A deeper understanding of intercultural communication theories through practical application Acquisition of personally relevant language skills • Authentic language exchange. Plurilingualism is encouraged, with some students learning languages other than their initial target language.The approach has resulted in a change of experience for both groups: from one of academic tourists and consumers of local pleasures on the one hand and distant hosts on the other, to participants in meaningful intercultural dialogue. The subject Intercultural Communication has evolved from a strong teacher-based subject to a powerful personal learning experience.

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