Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Iranian Efl Learners' Attitudes toward Learning Intercultural Communicative Competence, Motivation, and Their Language Proficiency Level

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Iranian Efl Learners' Attitudes toward Learning Intercultural Communicative Competence, Motivation, and Their Language Proficiency Level

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The relationship between language and culture in the foreign language classroom has been the focus of much scholarly inquiry (Byram, 1989; Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013). With increased globalization, migration and immigration there has been a growing realization for the need for an intercultural focus in language education. While language proficiency is at the "heart of language studies" (Standards for Foreign Language Learning, 2006, p. 3), it is no more the only objective of language teaching and learning. The Standards (2006) define language objectives in terms of the 5 C's (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) which are designed to help learners become viable contributors and participants in a linguistically and culturally diverse community.

According to the Standards (2006), culturally appropriate interaction occurs when two individuals engage in a bilateral conversation based on mutual understanding and an attitude of openness. When language educators plan a standards-based curriculum, it becomes evident that language and culture are inextricably connected. Moloney and Harbon (2010) maintain that within the context of language classrooms intercultural practice "asks students to think and act appropriately within a growing knowledge of the culture within language (p. 281)".

Research on intercultural competence focuses on the importance of preparing students to engage and collaborate in a global community by discovering appropriate ways to interact with people from other cultures (Sinecrope, Norris, & Watanabe, 2012). An interculturally competent speaker of a FL possesses both communicative competence in that language as well as specific skills, attitudes, values and knowledge about a culture. An interculturally competent (ICC) speaker turns intercultural encounters into intercultural relationships-someone determined to understand, to gain an inside view of the other person's culture while also contributing to the other person's understanding of his/her own culture from an insider's point of view (Byram, 1997).

When language skills and intercultural competency become connected in a language classroom, students become optimally ready for participation in a global world. This article reviews and summarizes the literature on intercultural competence and intercultural communicative competence in order to better understand how these notions can impact the cultural component of a foreign language curriculum. Building on different models of intercultural communicative competence, examples of cultural tasks that enhance intercultural communicative competence and represent best practices in language teaching and learning will be provided and illustrated for classroom integration.

2. Literature Review

2.1Intercultural Communicative Competence

As language and culture are considered to complement each other, integrating culture into language teaching has been one of the crucial topics that have been studied in ELT (Byram, 1997; Kramsch, 1998; Tseng, 2002). Attitudes towards teaching or learning target language culture, and target language culture elements in the text-books have been the main focus of the research studying culture (e.g., Alptekin, 1993; Cortazzi & Jin, 1999; Jabeen & Shah, 2011). However, with the change in the role of English as the new lingua franca, teaching just the target language culture has been questioned and the idea of teaching world cultures which is necessary for intercultural competence has started to take its place (Alptekin, 2002; Byram, 2008; Ho, 2009). Before implementing intercultural communicative competence (ICC) teaching into ELT, it is essential to learn about both the attitudes of teachers towards teaching ICC and the attitudes of learners towards world cultures. The attitudes of teachers towards teaching intercultural competence has been studied in different countries including Iran (Bayyurt, 2006; Castro, Sercu & Garcia, 2004; Jokikokko, 2005); however, the attitudes of learners towards learning ICC has not been fully studied in Iran. …

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