THE ASSESSMENT OF INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE (ICC)
IN LANGUAGE TEACHING
IN LANGUAGE TEACHING
Eka Laili Hermayanti
The purpose of this paper is to study and identify the essential dimensions of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) and to establish a framework for assessing the ICC of the students that included a self- report inventory and scoring rubric in intercultural context. It confirms that ICC is a composite of attitude, skills, knowledge and awareness which supported our intercultural interactions. It explains how to assess the cultural sensitivity of a sample of students consisting steps in assessing students’ performance and perceptions using survey by authentic questionnaire forms for each of components as the smart solution for interview which is time consuming. Since, the teaching and learning of a modern foreign language embodies the presence of another culture and contact with otherness in the development of cultural representations, the teacher is recommended to select the appropriate assessment procedures.
Keywords: intercultural communication; intercultural sensitivity measures (assessment); multicultural research; performance assessment
Intercultural language learning has become an important focus of modern language education, a shift that reflects greater awareness of the inseparability of language and culture, and the need to prepare language learners for intercultural communication in an increasingly multicultural world. It is in line with Fu in Xiao (2010) that today’s trend already come to intercultural communicative competence in which the language learning should deal with the students’ intercultural competence; no longer communicative competence only.
Intercultural language learning is a stance on language teaching and learning that emphasizes the interdependence of language and culture and the importance of intercultural understanding as a goal of language education. It is increasingly being promoted as a way to develop learners’ ability to negotiate meanings across languages and cultures and prepare them for living in a multicultural world.
The importance of developing intercultural communicative competence alongside linguistic competence has resulted from learners’ needs for acquiring intercultural skills for cross-cultural communication in which they may encounter linguistic and cultural barriers. Teaching from an intercultural perspective involves developing in learners’ critical cultural awareness of their own culturally-shaped world view and behaviors as well as the skills and attitudes to understand and successfully interact with people from other cultures, that is, to become intercultural as well as linguistically competent. EFL teachers therefore need to shift from a traditional stance to an intercultural one to develop both linguistic and intercultural competences of learners.
Regarding the importance of developing students’ intercultural communicative competence, teachers need to develop the assessment instruments to measure the students’ intercultural communicative competence in the classroom. Teachers need to assess the improvement of the students’ competence as a part of teachers’ evaluation of the teaching learning process. Therefore, this paper is aimed at presenting the assessment on students’ intercultural communicative competence.
2. Conceptual framework of reference for ICC
2.1 Theoretical aspects
In language education, learners have to learn to interact with others and mediate between two or more cultures. “Interacting effectively across cultures” means accomplishing a negotiation between people based on both culture-specific and cultural-general features that are on the whole respectful and favorable to each. Learners should be committed to turning language encounters into intercultural encounters and intercultural relationships (Guilherme, 2000). It requires certain attitudes, knowledge and skills, not considered in former conceptual frameworks. Thus, the need for new conceptual frameworks of reference in languages in order to work from linguistic competence to language communicative competence (Canale and Swain, 1980). And, to integrate the development of ICC in the conception of second and foreign language curriculum. For this reason, the discussion takes into consideration Byram’s (1997) and Lussier’s (1997; 2003) models in terms of the dimensions and sub-dimensions of ICC (the user/learner’s competences). It is also important for the readers to refer to the definitions of “intercultural competence”, “intercultural communicative competence” and, consequently, of what is to be expected from an “intercultural speaker”.
2.2 Dimensions of ICC
The three dimensions in assessing ICC are:
1. Knowledge / savoir in terms of collective memory, diversity in the ways of living and the sociocultural context of the societies and cultures of the communities in which a language is spoken. It refers to intercultural awareness which involves the understanding of the relation (similarities and distinctive differences) between the world of origin and the world of the target communities.
2. Know-how/savoir-faire implies at the primary level that the learners are able to function “linguistically” in the target language. Then, they should be able to interact in different contexts of ways of living, to adjust to different contexts as they integrate new experiences, use efficiently communicative competence, interpret and negotiate interaction in terms of skills. At this stage, intercultural skills imply the ability to use a variety of language strategies in order to communicate with those from other cultures, as well as the capacity to overcome stereotyped relationships.
3. Being/savoir-etre is characterized by the attitudes, motivations, values, beliefs, cognitive styles and personality linked to personal identity. Firstly, it involves cultural competence based on cultural awareness and the understanding of other cultures, lead to critical competence, which requires the appropriation of self-identity and the ability to accept and interpret other cultures. Finally, it also implies a higher level of competence in terms of transcultural competence, otherness and the integration of other values than those of one's own culture.
Another explanation of components of Intercultural Communicative Competence is represented by the following figures.
3. Assessing three dimension of ICC
1. Assessing intercultural knowledge
Nowadays, ICC is assessed by paper and pencil; it means that assessment is only in knowledge about ICC. It is done by answering question in form of multiple choices, pairing items etc. by those kinds of test, the students just know about differences of the target culture and source culture. According to Cankova et.al (2007), “three domains have to be considered for knowledge, those are the humanistic approach linked to collective memory in terms of culture and civilization, the anthropological approach in terms of knowing the diversity in the ways of living of different cultures, and the sociological approach looking at the sociocultural contexts of the target societies”.
2. Assessing intercultural know-how
Besides knowledge, today’s assessment of ICC focuses on linguistic aspect. It means that students are emphasized on knowing function and interact in target language. Now, we have to engage students into how they interact in target language environment, how they integrate in socio cultural of target language. So, the students can interact and communicate in different culture context.
3. Assessing intercultural being
In this level of assessment, students are demanded to understand about critical awareness of other identities, in this case target culture. They have to think critically about beliefs, identities, and values of target language and compare with their own. As Cankova (2007) argued that “students need to reshape their own values and integrate new perspectives so that they eventually become intercultural mediators when facing conflict-ridden situations”.
4. Method of Assessment
As explanation before that ICC assessment now, still focus on knowledge rather than the practice of ICC in social interact. Because ICC is kind of practical competence, or in education known as affective and skill, students have to be given many experience in target language through assessment. As Cankova et.al stated that assessing ICC should imply that we take into consideration all three dimensions of ICC: not only knowledge but also the skills “knowing how” and the attitudes “being”.
In assessing ICC, teachers as test givers have to refer to many sources of information about target language that will be tested. Those sources can be anecdotal records, observation checklists, observation, rating scales, documentation of task-related behaviors, attitudes inventories, surveys, portfolios, journals, self-evaluation reports, collection of written products, interest inventories, logs, etc.
Assessment of ICC should focus on cultural context and intercultural rather than knowledge about target language. In can be integrated in the task given to the students in order to achieve the goal of ICC teaching and learning. By integrating the ICC assessment in the task (task based) it will give students more experience about target culture. So they can understand about target language and culture all at once.
There are choices provide by Cankova et.al in assessing ICC to the students.
1. Assessment of ICC should be more formative than summative.
Formative assessment conduct on ongoing process of course or lesson while summative assessment conduct in the end of lesson to get the grade of students. Formative is conducted to achieve students in cognitive aspect only.
2. Assessment should be continuous and not only administered at one or two fixed assessment points.
“Continuous assessment” is assessment by the teacher and also by the learner of his/her performances, pieces of work and projects throughout the course by giving check list and making portfolio (Cankova, 2007).
3. Assessment can be direct or indirect.
Direct assessment is conducted by asking students to perform in role play and teacher observes the performance to get the students’ grade.
4. Assessment can be holistic or analytic.
“Holistic assessment” means making a global synthetic judgment about the learner’s performance. “Analytic assessment” requires the assessor to observe closely all dimensions and sub-dimensions, or each one separately, in order to come out with different profiles of performance or competence.
5. Assessment can be done by others but, self-assessment, which requires judgments about your own performance, can be an effective supplement to tests and teacher assessment.
As an assessment, ICC assessment also has to take into account about three criteria of common assessment. Those requirements are, validity, reliability, and feasibility.
5. Steps in assessing ICC
ü When to assess
· Before starting to teach, it may be important to get information based on the students’ experiences and backgrounds. Self-evaluation (culture-log) and a self-evaluation profile (profile diagram) are the two methods of assessment proposed as a pre-test to students.
· During the learning sequence, the teacher’s observation in reference to specific criteria specified in a grid and gathering work from discussions and productions in the student’s portfolio are appropriate methods of assessment.
· At the end of a unit or learning sequence, the teacher may need to know the different types of knowledge acquired by students. Any direct testing method is possible using multiple-choice items, matching items or short answer items. However, to evaluate know-how/savoir-faire, we need to develop tasks to be performed by students to assess the level of performance required. Simulations and role-plays based on critical or conflict-ridden incidents would reveal the students’ perceptions mostly when they interact in pairs or in groups of three or four.
· At the end of the teaching and training, the same methods used at the end of a unit or learning sequence can be repeated in terms of knowledge/savoir and know-how/savoir-faire. For being/savoir-être, the measures used before starting teaching can be repeated as a post-test, that is we can use self-evaluation (culture-log), self-profile (profile diagram) and the portfolio as reflective devices.
ü What to assess
To answer this question, the teacher needs to identify the learning outcomes; those specified as learning outcomes for the course or as defined in the textbook, and those defined at the beginning of each unit or learning sequence. They should cover the three dimensions of ICC: knowledge, know-how, and being. They should also take into consideration the learning process and progress.
ü How to assess
Each dimension of ICC covers different aspects of learning. Consequently, the methods of assessment will vary accordingly in order to evaluate the students as efficiently as possible. “Knowledge” uses indirect testing procedures, “know-how” is based on tasks and “being” relies on self-evaluation, surveys on attitudes, teachers’ grids and the student’s portfolio.
The following table gives a résumé of the three dimensions assessed (what), the moments they are assessed (when) and the methods of assessment selected to assess the learning of Unit of subject material (how).
Table 1: Steps in assessing students’ performance and perceptions
One of the examples of the instrument used in ICC assessment is the following questionnaire which is adapted from developed by Alvino E. Fantini, Brattleboro, VT, USA.
The example of rubric
6. Final appreciation: levels of performance in assessing ICC
ICC, mostly the dimension of being/savoir-ere, cannot be properly assessed using traditional testing procedures. Alternative methods of assessment, such as pre- and post-course surveys, students’ self-evaluation, the teacher’s observations with grids of the learning process and progress, the teacher’s evaluation and the student’s portfolio, can provide more useful information.
The final appraisal of ICC can vary according to each of the three dimensions of ICC. The dimension of knowledge/savoir can be assessed by multiple choice question and matching statements and can also be integrated into knowing how/savoir-faire, which will be graded in terms of proficiency, as knowledge is integrated within a performance defined in terms of skills. For know-how/savoir-faire can be used techniques such as role-plays and simulations of critical incidents. For being/savoir-ere, its recommended self-evaluation by means of surveys on attitudes, culture-logs, portfolios, reflective thinking and a teacher’s observation using grids and profiles of performance. Its assessment should rely more on an “appreciation”.
In this context, summative evaluation is less feasible because the intent is not to sum up attainment at the end of a course with a grade. The final appraisal is to be based on more than one appraisal of the learning process and progress. For all dimensions, the levels of competence can also be categorized in terms of low, medium or high profile as proposed in the European documents mentioned above.
ICC does not cover all the possibilities but it gives guidelines to pave the way for all those who believe that education is an entry to culture. It has its limitations. It also contains two surveys designed to assess teachers’ abilities to teach ICC.
We entered the domain of ICC assessment with cautiousness. Because culture is a mediating factor that is not easily defined or understood, there can be a large part of subjectivity in its teaching and even more in its assessment. There are so many questions that still have to be clarified and have not been addressed yet. We needed a conceptual framework of reference. It should be used as guidelines to educators, curriculum developers, textbook editors, teachers in the classroom and evaluators.
Furthermore, worldwide communication and the new development of technologies have created a transnational culture. We already know that people use words differently in different countries. There are more and more misunderstandings of the meaning of the same word. For that reason, assessors have to be cautious and rely more on techniques such as self-evaluation and evaluation based on progress, continuous and formative evaluation.
Moreover, when assessing ICC, on the basis of any textbook or even with Mirrors and windows, there is always the possibility that some teachers will have been teaching within the book and others beyond the book. This is another aspect to be considered when selecting assessment procedures.
2. Survey instruments to assess teachers’ competence in ICC
We know that language teachers are conveyors of cultural representations from various information sources: syllabuses, teaching materials, selection of texts and their own experiences. But are they aware of them? And do they adopt strategies to exploit, negotiate or even provide solutions when there are tensions or misunderstandings between groups of learners?
We also know that by its very nature, the teaching and learning of a modern foreign language embodies the presence of another culture and contact with otherness in the development of cultural representations. Therefore, should it be as important to aim to enlarge the opening window onto other cultures as to develop linguistic competence? What is the teacher’s role in pursuing such aims? Have they been trained for it? Can they play this role? Do they want to do it? What place do they give to the teaching of ICC?
To obtain answers to such questions we need to question teachers. We can conduct interviews but they are time consuming when we want to question a large number of teachers. Most of the time a written questionnaire is the most efficient instrument to gather more information in a short period of time.
Baten, L., Dusar, L., & Van Maele, J. (2011). TOOLKIT Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) Training Materials. CEFcult, 1(12).
Čaňková, M., Kostova, S. C., Golubina, K., Huber-Kriegler, M., Ivanus, D., Kačkere, A., . . . Wiesinger, S. (2007). Developing and assessing intercultural communicative competence (Ildikó Lázár with Martina Huber-Kriegler, Denise Lussier, Gabriela S. Matei & C. Peck Eds.). Austria: Council of Europe.
Fantini, A. E., & Brattleboro. (2006). Assessment Tools of Intercultural Communicative Competence.