Is there really a need for assessing intercultural competence? Some ethical issues

Claudia Borghetti (1)
(1) Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Cultures University of Bologna, Italy


Assessing intercultural competence (IC) is one of the hot-button issues within intercultural language education research today. Even if there are “more questions than answers” (Sercu, 2010) about this matter, it is generally accepted that assessing IC is somehow possible and necessary. This conceptual paper shifts from possibility to ethics, and discusses some reasons why assessing IC may not be considered opportune from an ethical perspective. Moreover, it casts doubt on whether assessing IC is truly necessary in language education. The paper presents four issues which appear problematic: The weaknesses of the existing models of IC with respect to assessment; the relationship between IC and interculturally competent performance; the context-based and relational nature of IC; the affective dimension of IC.

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Claudia Borghetti (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Claudia Borghetti, Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Cultures University of Bologna

Claudia Borghetti is Research Fellow in Language Learning and Teaching at the Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Cultures, University of Bologna, Italy. She was the project manager of the IEREST Project. She researches on intercultural language learning and teaching, language education, and teaching Italian as a foreign/second language.

Borghetti, C. (2017). Is there really a need for assessing intercultural competence? Some ethical issues. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 17(2), 1–15.

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