The Development of Intercultural Communicative Competence through a telecollaborative exchange between Chinese and Spanish students Rocío Blasco García The University of Hong Kong Structure • Introduction • Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) • Telecollaboration and ICC • The Study: o o o o Description of the Study Methodology Results and Discussion Conclusions Introduction • New technologies in the foreign language classroom • Internet inexhaustible source of materials • Computers essential tool o For foreign language learners o For teachers • Today’s students are digital natives • Learning a foreign language in a non-immersion environment presents challenges: o Practice of oral skills (small size oral groups) o Acquisition of intercultural competence (it has gained importance since the 90s) Introduction • Byram (1997) “successful communication is not judged solely in terms of the efficiency of information exchange. It is focused on establishing and maintaining relationships.” • Intercultural competence (IC) “the ability to understand and relate to people from other countries” • How do we teach intercultural competence? How do students acquire it? • Internet provides synchronous and asynchronous tools (chats, videoconferencing, skype, email, wikis, forums, blogs, etc.) to communicate and develop IC Introduction • Present study explores the acquisition of intercultural competence in students of Spanish and Chinese as a foreign language. • Reasons: o Difficulty to get close to language and culture due to geographical distance o Students wanted to communicate with peers of similar ages and interests • Result: an email exchange project between HKU students and students of Chinese at CSIM (Centro Superior de Idiomas Modernos) Universidad Complutense, Madrid Intercultural Communicative Competence • Learning a language effectively requires acquisition of language skills and of the culture behind the language • Agar (1994) languaculture “culture is in language and language is loaded with culture” • Creation of a ‘third space’ between the culture of origin (C1) and the target culture (C2) • Once the ‘third space’ is created and characteristics of both cultures are accepted without judgment a learner has acquired ICC Byram’s model of ICC (1997) • Five principles or savoirs which are interdependent Skills interpret and relate (savoir comprendre) Knowledge Of self and other; of interaction: individual and societal (savoirs) Education polítical education critical cultural awareness (savoir s’engager) Skills Discover and/or interact (savoir apprendre/faire) Attitudes relativizing self valuing other (savoir être) Byram’s model of ICC (1997) • Attitudes towards people perceived as different (prejudice or stereotype) • Knowledge of social groups and their products in both cultures (know the general culture but also how to act appropriately) • Skills of interpretation and relation interpret a document/event from another culture and relate it to one’s own • Skills of discovery and interaction social interaction with members of the target culture • The interaction between the 4 components leads to critical cultural awareness • Learners become intercultural speakers How to assess acquisition of ICC? • Byram (2000) uses five criteria: • A) Interest in knowing about other people’s way of life and presenting my own culture to others o Interest in other people’s experience of daily life (especially things not usually presented to outsiders) o Interest in the daily experience of a variety of social groups within a society • B) Ability to change perspective o Understand other cultures by seeing things from a different point of view and by looking at my culture from their perspective. How to assess acquisition of ICC? • C) Knowledge about one’s own culture and that of another country for intercultural communication o Facts about living in the other culture, the country, state and people. o Engage in and maintain a conversation with people of the other culture • D) Knowledge about (the process of) intercultural communication o Resolve misunderstandings from lack of awareness of the view point of another culture o Discover new information and new aspects of the other culture for myself • E) Ability to cope with living in a different culture o Cope with a range of reactions to living in a different culture (euphoria, homesickness, physical and mental discomfort, etc.) Intercultural Speakers • Byram (2000, p.2) describes intercultural speakers as follows: “someone with some degree of intercultural competence is someone who is able to see relationships between different cultures – both internal and external to a society – and is able to mediate, that is, interpret each in terms of the other, either for themselves or for other people” Telecollaboration and ICC • Telecollaboration online interaction between learners and native speakers of a language who carry out collaborative activities, debates or cultural exchanges with the aim of learning the language and culture of their partner (Vinagre, 2010). • It occurs when language students in diverse international locations make use of internet mediated communication tools to improve and develop their linguistic competence as well as their intercultural competence (Belz, 2003) • Telecollaboration is an excellent option for people who cannot go to the country of the target language Telecollaboration and ICC • Three most common models of telecollaboration according to O’Dowd (2007): • Cultura focus on the integration of culture into the language classroom. Compares the 2 cultures, uses the mother tongue. • eTandem two learners offer reciprocal support and teaching through synchronous or asynchronous type exchanges. Two principles: reciprocity and autonomy. Use of mother tongue and target language • eTwinning no guidelines for use of language, content or structure of the exchange. Designed for schools , platform for collaborative projects. Telecollaboration and the Study • A hybrid between Cultura and eTandem was adopted for various reasons: o Purpose to analyze the cultural exchange, not the linguistic aspect. o Cultura required a high proficiency in the foreign language (not possible for Spanish participants) o eTandem required bilingual emails which required high proficiency (not possible for Spanish participants) o The investigator did not read Chinese (a problem for monitoring the email exchange) • A compromise was reached by using English/Spanish as the languages for communication Telecollaboration and the Study • Email was chosen as the tool for communication for a number of reasons: o Previous studies have shown it to be an effective tool (O’Dowd, 2003; Hertel, 2003; Liaw, 2006; Vinagre, 2010) o O’Dowd (2006) opines that asynchronous tools are better for research into intercultural aspects because: • they allow time to reflect upon questions and comments • they allow the printing and sharing of texts (sent and received) • students produce more profound and detailed content about their culture. Telecollaboration and the Study o Email allows students to think about the content of their messages and the best way to express themselves. o Time difference between Spain and Hong Kong. Description of the Study • 9 Chinese students of Spanish (HKU) & 9 Spanish students of Chinese (CSIM, Madrid) (only 7 pairs finished) • Exchange between December 2009 and March 2010 • Similar ages • Chinese participants studying Spanish as a Major or Minor (level of Spanish B1-B2) • Spanish participants learned Chinese as an extracurricular activity (level of Chinese A2) • All had English as their L2 • Random pairing, 2 emails per week (given topics) • Also 3 questionnaires and a learning journal Methodology • Qualitative methodology to look at the qualities of the phenomena rather than measure them • Triangulation was carried out by analyzing emails, answers to the 3 questionnaires and the learning journals of each participant • The project looked at 3 questions: o Can ICC be developed through an email telecollaborative exchange? o Is email a useful tool to learn the target language culture? o Is it possible to incorporate this type of activity within the language classroom? • We are only going to look at the analysis of the email exchanges, carried out using the criteria proposed by Byram (2000) Results and Discussion • Corpus of 258 messages • Results presented according to each criterion A. Interest in knowing about other people’s way of life and presenting my own culture to others 200 180 160 140 120 Chinese Participants 100 80 Spanish Participants 60 40 20 0 Own Culture Other culture Results and Discussion • This criterion had the highest number of results • In a previous study (Vinagre, 2010) it was argued that the reasons may have been that students were told to discuss their culture with partners • This would give way to comparison between the 2 cultures • Present their own culture had similar results for Chinese and Spanish participants(185 & 189) • Showing interest in knowing the other person’s culture had different results, much higher for Chinese students (103) than Spanish students (40) • Possibly it was because Chinese students started the exchange, so they started the questions Examples – Present own culture • Eileen (Semana 3, mensaje 5.1) Por cierto ¿sabes que el Año Nuevo Chino se acerca? Este año es un poco interesante porque el primero día del Año Nuevo Chino y el Día de San Valentín caen en el mismo día. Es el festival chino que me gusta más. ¿Sabes qué hacemos en este festival? Visitamos nuestras parientes y los niños son felices porque pueden recibir los “paquetes rojos” en que se puede encontrar dinero. Solo la gente que está casada distribuye los “paquetes rojos” • Ethel (Semana 6, mensaje 6.2) En esta ocasión vamos a hablar de supersticiones. Tengo que admitir que en este tema los chinos somos unos expertos. Aunque la gente puede no tener una creencia religiosa determinada, hay muchas cosas que se deben o no hacer. También tenemos un “festival de los espíritus” durante un mes entero que siempre me asusta. Te voy a hablar de ellas una por una. Para la gente que va a hacer negocios es importante, antes de empezar, quemar incienso para los dioses, y celebrar una gran fiesta en la que hay un cochinillo asado y fruta colocados en un altar. Ejemplos – Interest for other’s culture • Jenny (Semana 3, mensaje 3.2) Me pregunto, ¿con qué frecuencia van los españoles a los pubs/bares? ¿Es ir a las discotecas una parte importante de la cultura y estilo de vida de España? • Adriana (Semana 2, mensaje 2.1) Quería preguntarte, ¿qué es el dim sum? ¿me puedes hablar sobre el festival de medio otoño? Results and Discussion B. Ability to change perspective 20 15 10 Chinese Participants 5 Spanish Participants 0 • The least represented in the study • Chinese students (16) & Spanish students (13) • Although students were eager to know more about the partner’s culture they could not put themselves in the other’s position to reflect on their own culture Examples – change perspective • Ethel (Semana 2, mensaje 2.2.2) En cuanto a los Toros...no sé, me parece es un poco cruel de verdad. Aunque tienes razón que viven muy bien hasta el día y la verdad es que nunca la he visto la corrida. Pero todo lo que hemos hecho a los toros durante la corrida me parece bastante triste. De todas formas, pienso que los toros significan mucho para vosotros verdad? No sé por qué esto debe de ser prohibido si es un símbolo importante para los españoles, lo cierto es que cada día la gente hace muchas cosas malas a los animales y el planeta. Lo de los toros sí que considero cruel pero tampoco es tan malo cuando ponemos comparación a los demás. Espero que no te moleste mi opinión...a ti qué te parece Ignacio? Examples – change perspective • Susana (Semana 5, mensaje 5.2) Y estuve pensando estos días sobre los españoles y sobre si son abiertos de mente hacia los extranjeros porque depende principalmente del lenguaje, es decir, si el español está interesado en otras culturas, en hacer nuevos amigos y puede hablar la lengua, normalmente son muy amistosos y abren sus mentes pero si no es ese el caso, si prefieren simplemente tener sus amigos, seguir con sus vidas normales y si especialmente no hablan el idioma entonces o son tan amigables como debieran. Así, dependiendo de la persona son de una manera u otra. Results and Discussion C. Knowledge about one’s own culture and that of another country for intercultural communication 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Chinese Participants Spanish Participants • Examples of knowledge of the partner’s culture, second most popular criterion • Chinese students (52) & Spanish students (35) • Chinese students had an extensive knowledge about Spanish culture due to travelling to the country (5), some also had taken culture courses at HKU Results and Discussion • Spanish students did not take Chinese culture courses • Only 3 had travelled to China • All participants compared the 2 cultures Examples – Knowledge of other’s culture • Eunice (Semana 2, mensaje 2.2) ¿te gusta ver películas? ¿Qué tipo de películas te gusta? He visto algunas películas en español por ejemplo, Volver, El Orfanato, Jamón Jamón, Open your eyes, y creo que todos son muy buenos. Mi favorita es Volver. • Jacobo (Semana 6, mensaje 6.2) En cuanto a las supersticiones, sí conocía lo del número 4 ya que me lo dijo mi profesora de mandarín al empezar las clases de pronunciación, lo de quemar cosas de papel para la otra vida lo vi en un documental hace unas semanas. :-) Results and Discussion D. Knowledge about (the process of) intercultural communication 34 32 30 28 26 Chinese Participants Spanish Participants 24 • Results were quite similar for both groups: 33 for Chinese students and 28 for Spanish students • To guarantee communication it was necessary to engage in the exchange, create a cooperative atmosphere (emoticons, thanking each other, informal tone, avoidance of awkward topics) Examples – knowledge about intercultural com • Vincy (Semana 6, mensaje 6.1) Para la mayoría de los chinos, piensan que español es perezoso, pero muy apasionado. La razón es que los chinos son muy trabajadores y no pasan mucho tiempo durmiendo y haciendo actividades de ocio. Sin embargo, ellos ven que la mayoría de los españoles a tomar la siesta después de terminar el almuerzo. Parecen que espanoles son perezosos. • Manuel (Semana 4, mensaje 4.1) He conocido poca gente en Asia, la mayoría de Taiwán. Siempre me han parecido amables y educados, pero también distantes. Es muy difícil saber qué está pensando o cual es su opinión sobre un asunto. Y si algo le parece mal no lo dice. Parece difícil que un chino diga "NO". Conclusions • The present study was carried out with the objective of analyzing how email exchanges could contribute to the development of ICC in foreign language learners in Hong Kong and Spain. • The results obtained confirmed that students had developed their intercultural competence in all four aspects albeit at different levels. • Data collected through other instruments also corroborated the fact that students felt they had acquired intercultural competence. • Email exchanges allowed participants a unique opportunity to contrast and compare their own cultural practices and those of their partners regardless of the physical distance. Conclusions • This was highly valued by all participants • Through the process of having to compose messages, all students developed their intercultural competence because they had to think about their partner’s habits, way of thinking, interests, feelings, etc. • They also had to consider the best way to present information. • Intercultural speakers are those who “can establish a relationship between their own and the other cultures, to mediate and explain differences – and ultimately to accept that difference and see the common humanity beneath it” (Byram & Fleming, 1998, p. 8).