Issue 44, July 2017

Claudia Borghetti

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

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.

Keywords: Intercultural Competence, Assessment, Ethics, Second Language Learning, Second Language Teaching

María Calzada-Pérez

The Impact of Symbolic Culture on the Understanding of Visual Figuration in a Cross-Cultural Environment

This paper focuses on the understanding of visual rhetorical figures as they appear in today’s globalized advertising. A sound theoretical model (i.e., Phillips and McQuarrie 2004) is first reviewed to select a good representative sampling (i.e., 9 advertisements) of the behaviour domain measured. Then, a population of 60 English language students are questioned regarding these 9 advertisements. This study uses a combined methodology, resorting to basic quantitative data to reveal qualitative findings. Our discussion supports prior research (Callister and Stern 2008: 148) indicating that culture is essential for image understanding in a cross-cultural environment and stands in opposition to those who act on the assumption that visuals are universal and therefore understandable in all cultures of the world (Levitt 1983).

Keywords: Visual figuration, understanding, symbolic cultural component, globalisation, Spanish context

Agnieszka Dudek

A Monolithic “Dead End” or a “Hybrid Exit”? Cultural Hybrids Facing National Image Construction & Their Role in the History of Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communication in the context of national construction is often associated exclusively with our era of globalization. But, in fact, it has been present for over 150 years, in reference to multi-ethnic regions, in particular. Therefore, the paper goes back to the origins of cultural hybridity as a historical and intercultural phenomenon, facing the emergence of national image construction, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of intercultural communication and thus shed new light on our socio-cultural problems, with national and post-national backgrounds. The analysis is on one hand focused on Central European borderland, namely Austrian-Silesia, as a crown land of the Habsburg Monarchy, at the end of 19th century, and on the other, based on theories by Homi Bhabha, Wolfgang Welsch, Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Martin Buber, Benedict Anderson or Miroslav Hroch.

Keywords: cultural hybridity, national image construction, multiculturalism, history of intercultural communication, Habsburg Monarchy, transculturality

Erla S. Kristjansdottir & Thora Christiansen

“...you have to face the fact that you're a foreigner” - Immigrants’ Lived Experience of Communication and Negotiation Position Toward their Employer in Iceland

There is a growing need for highly skilled employees in the Icelandic labor market which will increasingly need to be filled by highly skilled immigrants. Despite offering knowledge and skills that are in demand, there are indications that these immigrants are facing barriers when it comes to compensation, opportunities and promotions. The study seeks to explore how highly skilled immigrants in Iceland experience their negotiation opportunities, their negotiation position and communication with their employers. Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted with immigrants from other European countries. The interviews were analyzed and interpreted according to phenomenological methodology. Four themes emerged in respondents’ perception; Icelandic, “accent free,” “you have to face the fact that you´re a foreigner ” “everybody has this little kind of kingdom...” and feeling of never being good enough.

Keywords: Immigrants, highly skilled, communication, negotiation position, Icelandic, devaluation, social capital, network

Eva Lambertsson Björk, Jutta Eschenbach and Lynette Webb

Reel Life Methodology - Developing intercultural competence through film fragments and dialogue in South Africa

South Africa is a multicultural country; however, the politics of the past have resulted in teachers from diverse cultures being ignorant of the mores of others with whom they interact. Teachers thus risk transferring preconceived knowledge and attitudes into the classroom. The aim of this study was to explore to what extent the methodology of Reel Life can promote the development of intercultural competence among South African teachers. Film fragments were used to stimulate intercultural dialogue, and an environment was created in which teachers from different cultures could share their culture knowledge and begin to develop intercultural competence. Our results show that the teachers were able to shift their frames of reference in a movement between ethnic positions and a shared perspective of them all being South African.

Keywords: Intercultural competence, South Africa, positioning, teachers, Reel Life

María Ángeles Orts Llopis

Terror at Home - On the Rhetoric of Domestic Violence Legislation in the United Kingdom and Spain

The present study analyses two Parliamentary Acts on the subject of domestic violence: the Spanish Organic Law 1/2004 on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence and the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 from the United Kingdom. The analysis of the texts (organised into two corpora, SPA and UKA respectively) was carried out in three different stages, the first one consisting in the automatic processing of the two texts using Monoconc. After doing so, the lexical component of the two corpora was examined on a superficial level, followed by a discursive analysis of the macrostructural organization of both legal texts. The third stage of analysis focused upon the number and types of metadiscourse markers, capable of unveiling interpersonal relationships in both corpora. These three different but complementary levels of analysis have led us to conclude that the Acts represent different stances from which the subject of domestic violence is envisaged in the Spanish and English contexts. Both legal texts display specific traits that pertain to the different legal cultures these legal instruments arise from. Additionally, such traits reflect rhetorical and cultural dissimilarities in the way in which domestic terror is fought and offer clues for the translation of these Acts.

Keywords: domestic violence, genre violence, legal genre, intercultural communication, legal translation

Santa Stopniece

“The Chinese Will Not Change; We Have To Change” - Adjustment of the Finns to the Chinese in a Chinese Investment Facilitation Context

This paper explores the intercultural communication, cultural adjustment strategies and power relations between Finnish and Chinese representatives in the context of Chinese investment facilitation in Finland. The study is mostly based on interviews of individuals who work either for one of Finland’s state agencies tasked with attracting investment or local government. When analyzing aspects of power, the paper’s theoretical basis is the Positioning Theory of Harré (1991). Due to the phenomenon of ‘rising China’, the dominant discursive practice of the Finnish positioning is adaption to a communication and working style seen as typically Chinese. The results show the main aspects of Chinese culture, to which Finns see need of adjusting, are their distinct concepts of time, indirectness and overt hierarchy.

Keywords: Chinese investments, Finland, cultural adjustment, power, positioning, intercultural communication, rising China

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