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Improving Intercultural Competence for the Distance Students in Sweden through Online Joint-Seminars in Japanese with University Students from the United States
Dalarna University, School of Languages and Media Studies, Japanese.
2014 (English)In: Next Generation Learning Conference, March 19–20 2014, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden: Book of abstracts, Falun: Högskolan Dalarna, 2014Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

There have been quite a few studies (Helm 2009, Chun 2011, Schenker 2012, Kitade 2012, etc.) regarding the development of intercultural competence through online exchanges. Most of these exchanges, however, are between native speakers and learners of that language. The benefit of such exchanges can be maximized if both parties are learning each other’s language and they both have the opportunity to utilize the languages they are learning during the exchange, but often times, this is not the case.  Byram (1997) suggests that intercultural competence can be assessed using the following components: knowledge, skills, attitudes, and critical awareness.  If ‘intercultural competence’ means not just learning about the target culture, but also about becoming aware of one’s own culture (Liaw 2006), connecting students from different countries who are studying the same target language and culture would be an ideal setting in order for the students to evaluate both their own and target cultures critically. Having learners of a target language from different countries in a virtual classroom also helps create an environment which mimics the language classroom in the target country enabling them to experience studying abroad without leaving their home countries.

It is often said to be difficult or almost impossible for students in distance courses to develop intercultural competence because of the lack of opportunity to study abroad or the lack of an international atmosphere in the classroom (Tyberg 2009). Thus, the goal of this study is to provide opportunities for all students, regardless of their circumstances, to develop intercultural competence.  In this study, a group of intermediate/advanced level Japanese students from a university in Sweden (all distance students) and a group from a university in the U.S. were brought together in a virtual classroom using an online video conferencing system.  Through their interactions and post-seminar reflections, I examined how students develop intercultural competence.

 

The results from this study show that through interactions with university students from other countries who study Japanese at the same level, the students can gain not only Japanese skills, but expand their horizons and deepen their understanding of another culture as well as of the topics discussed during the meetings thus satisfying each of the criteria in Byram's model. Not everyone has the opportunity to study abroad, but today's technology allows every student to be a part of the internationalization process, develop his/her cultural-literacy and reflect on his/her identity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Falun: Högskolan Dalarna, 2014.
Series
Arbetsrapport / Högskolan Dalarna, ISSN 1653-9362 ; 2014:01
Keyword [en]
Intercultural competence, E-learning, Online video conferencing, Japanese
National Category
Educational Sciences Specific Languages
Research subject
Kultur, identitet och gestaltning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-14068OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-14068DiVA: diva2:716181
Conference
Next Generation Learning Conference, March 19–20 2014, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden
Projects
NGL projekt 2013: Internationalisering genom språkundervisning
Available from: 2014-05-08 Created: 2014-05-08 Last updated: 2014-06-11Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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