Interculturality SIG


Sonia Cunico, University of Exeter ( and Katarzyna Lanucha, University of Cambridge (

About the Interculturality SIG


A number of language centres and language programmes already deliver courses and other activities related to intercultural competence and communication. These are often responding to different circumstances, and are being developed independently. At the same time, Universities are promoting internationalisation and the concept of the global graduate, often aligned to global citizenship and inter-cultural awareness. There is also no real common understanding as to what inter-cultural competence means in the context of language centre strategies, and how it is taught and measured, nor are there many teachers well trained in such approaches. As a result, there is a hotchpotch of approaches to inter-culturality, but with an opportunity for language centres to seize the initiative and present ourselves as the natural home within and around which to develop such institution-wide strategies, with languages at the core. The SIG endeavours to support member institutions in their responses to this situation.

Main questions to consider

  • There is an inherent separation between inter-cultural competence and inter-cultural communication, and language learning in its current form.  There is a disconnect in understanding of, and approaches to, inter-culturality (IC).  The SIG could explore ways to deconstruct this separation through application of new discourse, linking to the multi-cultural language classroom.
  • We aim to keep separate the work of the SIG and IC as taught at a programme level (e.g. MA, BA programmes).  However, modules and short courses can (and should?) be included in our scope.
  • We need to develop an intellectual rationale for inter-cultural competence and communication as a key soft skill.
  • We need to consider learning outcomes and modes of measuring achievement that are meaningful rather than symbolic.  We need to better understand how to effectively assess inter-cultural learning.
  • We need to be able to articulate how various inter-cultural awareness activities fit in to this intellectual rationale (both formal and informal).
  • We need to link approaches to inter-cultural learning as currently practised in language centres, EAP/EFL programmes and degree programmes.
  • We need to explain the relationship between terms such as “international”, “inter-cultural”, “multilingual”, “global” etc., and between “citizenship”, “awareness”,” competence”, “skill”, “intelligence” and “literacy”– first of all for ourselves(!)
  • We can promote the benefits of the development of inter-cultural skills, directly linked to institutional strategies for equality, diversity and inclusivity, as well as re-defining aspects of internationalisation (e.g. the “global graduate”).
  • We will need to link teaching strategies and resources to available research (as a repository).
  • We need to develop a clear set of “course” descriptors that allows us to carefully manage learner expectations, and to better promote such courses to those who will most benefit.
  • We have a need for in-house training – for our own teachers, for wider University staff, and for students.

Initial terms of reference

The SIG has an initial focus on three primary objectives:

a) To build a repository of research information and articles in the field that is relevant to the above ambitions, and of interest to AULC members;

b) To develop an intellectual rationale for inter-cultural competence and inter-cultural communication, and its relationship with language learning, and extend from this to a rationale for how this can be integrated into the range of activities delivered and facilitated by language centres and language programmes

c) To develop resources and materials to educate and train language centre teachers in delivery of inter-cultural learning outcomes.  This may include creation and sharing of some materials and resources.

These priorities are considered to be those that will individually help each of us in our own planning, in our own Universities. (It is important to bear this in mind – we cannot expect to solve the whole problem, but a SIG is a good way of sharing strategies to solve our own problems individually and collectively).

Mailing list

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