Neva Cebron, Reka Jablonkai and Ljerka RadosThe cross-cultural business communication project or expoiting ICT to facilitate ICC
The paper relates the experience gathered in the area of intercultural awareness raising with respect to methods and approaches used in the classroom and in terms of studentsí response. The developments related were an integral part of an EU - Leonardo da Vinci Programme sponsored project in which learning of Business English has been carried out through an integrated skills approach in a series of virtual workshops. Within the CCBC project the teacher had to assume the role of a facilitator helping students to deal with cross-cultural issues while carrying out a simulated transaction in English. Virtual environment formed the backdrop for an international network of simulated companies, thus motivating the exchange of business messages and intercultural encounters. In the academic year 2003/04 almost 500 students, 18 teachers, 16 institutions from 10 different countries participated in the CCBC network.
In the first part, the article provides information on our approaches to intercultural issues, how the topic was tackled at earlier stages of the project and what lessons have been drawn from those attempts to teach ICC (Intercultural Communication Competence). The second part gives an account of improvements introduced at later stages of the project, listing specific tasks, approaches and teaching materials developed to facilitate certain aspects of ICC in an era of the Internet. The third part is concerned mainly with results of studentsí work and their perception of own identity. Students benefit from the project since it gives them the opportunity to establish contacts with a number of peer groups from different countries and learn about different cultural communication patterns and possible misunderstandings.
Keywords: Business English, Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), teaching / learning approaches, raising intercultural awareness, developing understanding, respect, empathy, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) based international network