Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Intercultural Communication Skills among Prospective Turkish Teachers of German in the Context of the Comparative Country Knowledge Course

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Intercultural Communication Skills among Prospective Turkish Teachers of German in the Context of the Comparative Country Knowledge Course

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study develops and provides a sample implementation of a seminar for the 'Comparative Country Knowledge' course taught in the German Language Teaching departments of Turkish universities. The study was conducted with the participation of forty-seven 1st year students attending a German Language Teaching department. As part of the study, Cultural Values Model consisting of four dimensions was used to develop intercultural communication skills. Students' views on learning attitudes and problems in the two cultures were examined on the basis of this model. At the end of the seminar, students were asked to fill out a questionnaire to evaluate the seminar*. The results of the study showed that prospective teachers acquired different cultural perspectives in the Comparative Country Knowledge course. The model seems to have made a significant contribution to students' intercultural communication skills.

Key Words

Interculturality, Intercultural Learning, Comparative Regional Studies, Intercultural Communication Competence, Teacher Education, German Language Teaching.

This study aimed to contribute to the development of intercultural communication skills among prospective teachers as part of the Comparative Country Knowledge course taught in the German Language Teaching departments of Turkish universities.

Renges (2005, p. 4) argues that intercultural learning has three indispensable elements:

1. Acquiring information about the other culture

2. Understanding the alien culture

3. Intercultural communication skills as part of intercultural action

Intercultural communication skills, considered to be the final stage of intercultural learning, are defined by another author as follows:

"The concept of Intercultural Communication Skills is defined as the ability of the individual to understand cultural conditions and other factors affecting his/her own perceptions, judgments, feelings and actions, as well as those of other people, to respect and to value them, and to develop common ways of working to create a productive synergy..." (Thomas, 2003 as cited in von Queis, 2004, p. 4)

The concept of country knowledge is defined by Buttjes as "issues related to the society of the language that is being learnt in the foreign language course. These issues arise when the contexts in which the foreign language is used are introduced." (Buttjes, 1989, p. 140). In another source, "country knowledge" is defined as "context knowledge" with reference to this definition, and the importance of avoiding a singular focus on the "elite culture" is emphasized as country knowledge refers to all forms of expression in a society (Schmidt 1973 cited in Pauldrach, 1990, p. 5).

Beyond the definition of the concept of country knowledge, there are three approaches to the country knowledge course. These are the cognitive, communicative and intercultural approaches (see. Padrós & Biechele, 2003).

Bachmann (1995; 1996) stresses the fact that "finally in intercultural situations, intercultural competence is a skill to be appropriated." Grau and Würffel (2003, pp. 312-314) also refer to a form of exercise that is based on Bach's methodology.

There are a number of different instruction methods designed to develop intercultural communication skills. The most prominent among these are the case study, imitation, discovery, and project methods (Flechsig, 1999).

Mendez (2005) details the imitation method used in a city plan game as part of an English language course. Bosse (2010, pp. 109-133) proposes a program designed to develop intercultural communication skills among university students. The author takes the diversity of students from different cultural backgrounds in universities as a starting point, and proposes a three-day study program that will allow university students from different backgrounds to mix with one another. The program, which is based on the premise of cultural diversity, consists of three stages: in the first stage, individual diversity is taken up, the second stage focuses on institutional and social diversity, and subject of the third stage is communicative diversity. …

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