as a pluralistic approach
Antoinette Camilleri Grima
What is ICC?
‘transcending the
limitations of one’s own
world view’
(Fantini 2000, p.31)
Through an education for ICC:
 We
open up to other ways of thinking
and other ways of logic
 We find a tongue in which we can
speak our humanity to each other
 We learn to see that our own view of
the world is just one among many
(Willems 2002: 19)
What is the specific aim of ICC
as a pluralistic approach?
I’m Polish, and I was invited for dinner
while in Paris together with an
Englishman and a Spaniard. We all
arrived at the door at the same time.
Our host asked us to come in. Being
the only lady in the group I tried to
go in first, but I did not have the
time as the Englishman preceded
The Spaniard then kept the
door open for me and made a
gesture inviting me in before him.
We passed a comment about how
rude the Englishman was!
I’m French. Before going to China I learned a
few essential phrases and felt very confident
in my ability to communicate. Soon after I
arrived there, I found myself in front of a
cake stall. I pointed my finger at the object I
desired and said “Those two” in Chinese,
pointing my finger at the object. The seller
hesitated a little, looked at my fingers and
started to put more and more cakes in the
bag. “No, no, two” I repeated again putting
two fingers on my nose. She filled the bag
and asked me to pay for my custom.
I was very frustrated, and only later did I learn
that placing the thumb and the index finger
on my nose pointing outwards meant ‘eight’.
Your intercultural experience
No. 1
Think of an unhappy intercultural
incident in which you were involved
and found yourself at a loss
understanding what was going on.
Write it down.
Share it with your neighbour and
explain why it was strange for you.
In our day to day encounters, what
happens the moment we realise that,
for example:
things are not working out as usual
 we’re not being understood
 the other person’s behaviour is strange
 we cannot make sense of what’s
 someone was offended unintentionally
We experience...
 Surprise
 Discomfort
 Irritation
 Shock
 Anger
 Losing
 Humour
What happened to the fish?
 It
was surprised to see the tadpole
change into a frog
 It was curious to hear about the
new world the frog described upon
his return
 It was only able to partly
‘understand’ the world outside the
water, and only from it’s own point of
The fish did have...
 Curiosity/Interest
in diversity (3)*
 Receptiveness to diversity (5)*
 Motivation to observe...(8)*
 Desire to find out about other
cultures (9.5)*
*(CARAP/FREPA resources: Attitudes)
But the moment it left the water
The fish failed...why?
It had
 A false sense of confidence in her
 False expectations about adjustment
 A lack of true understanding of
cultural dynamics
(Bennett 1993)
Having a few, isolated resources
is not enough.
In Byram’s (1992:11) words,
the fish remained
“firmly anchored in her own values
and culture”
ICC as a pluralistic approach is
not really about the fish...
...Could it be more about the
tadpole and the frog?!
My intercultural experience
I was part of an international group of
colleagues about to enter an Austrian
restaurant for an evening meal. Next to
me was an Austrian gentleman who, as
soon as we got to the door rushed to open
it. At first I thought he was really polite
and so I quickly moved forward towards
the door. However, to my amazement, he
stepped ahead of me, and entered before
I was slightly offended, but once we were
seated he explained to me that in Austria it
was considered polite for a man to precede
the woman upon entering, and to let the
woman out first when leaving the building!
I think he had noticed that I felt
uncomfortable with his action, and gave me
the opportunity to discuss our customs and
expectations for a while.
After that little talk I enjoyed the meal
Notice that this time...
Although there was again an
‘uncomfortable’ intercultural event,
the conclusion was different.
This Austrian gentleman possessed
that kind of intercultural competence
described in the Guide:
“...the capacity to
interpret another way
of life and to explain it
to those who live
(Guide, p. 32)
The Austrian gentleman had the
relevant competences as described
in CARAP/FREPA (p. 126):
competence in resolving conflict,
clarifying misunderstanding (C1.1)
 A competence in mediation (C1.3)
 A competence of decentring (C3)
 A competence in recognising the
‘other’ (C7)
There needs to be a
mobilisation of a
sophisticated network of
global competences and
Your intercultural experience
No. 2
 Think
of another intercultural event,
with a happy and successful ending
 Write it down
 Share it with your neighbour
 Together try to identify the
competences and some of the
resources (in CARAP/FREPA)
mobilised for its successful outcome
What happens to you as a result of
your intercultural experiences?
Sometimes you feel like the fish
ICC is NOT simply about learning
to look at the world through
somebody else’s pair of glasses
“Nor is the new competence kept entirely
separate from the old. The learner does
not simply acquire two distinct, unrelated
ways of acting and communicating”
(CEF, p. 43)
ICC is NOT about encoding and
decoding messages and symbols
(Ma 2003)
Do you sometimes feel
like a tadpole turning into a frog?
In tackling new experiences...
We are constantly changing,
constructing evolving identities,
redefining our cultures,
creating new meanings,
forming new understandings...
As the language learner becomes
plurilingual and develops
“The linguistic and cultural
competences in respect of each
language are modified by
knowledge of the other...”
(CEF, p. 43)
An approach to changing our natural
“The learner of a second or foreign
language and culture does not cease
to be competent in his or her mother
tongue and the associated culture.”
(CEF p. 43)
“Linguistic and cultural
enable the individual to develop an
enriched, more complex personality
and enhanced capacity for further
language learning and greater
openness to new cultural
(CEF, p. 43)
ICC involves
A conscious understanding of
the process of adaptation
(Bennett 1993)
A high degree of meta-linguistic, metacognitive, and other meta- capabilities
ICC is NOT A (singular) Competence
A sophisticated network of Global
mobilising Resources of
Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills
A singular view of ICC
A pluralistic view of ICC
ICC as a pluralistic approach
Learning a language
Teacher of a European
another cultural
group/s (and one’s
Teaching/learning activities
involving several languages
European teacher of
Developing of a network of
competences and resources
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Intercultural Competence