Chinese College Students’ Intercultural Competence: Current Situation, Barriers and Solutions

Yuting Mu, Baohua Yu

Abstract

Situated in Byram’s intercultural competence model, this study employed survey questionnaires and face-to-face interviews to investigate the current situation of Chinese college students’ intercultural competence through exploring a class of English majors. The results show that students were not satisfied with their reported intercultural competence; their desire for cultural learning was constrained by the current language teaching methods and content. Suggestions are made on how to position culture in language teaching and learning with implications for how teachers could provide more opportunities for authentic intercultural learning and prepare students to participate as global citizens.

Keywords:
    intercultural competence, culture teaching, language teaching, vocational education

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References

Baker, W. (2011). Intercultural awareness: Modelling an understanding of cultures in intercultural communication through English as a lingua franca. Language and Intercultural Communication, 11(3): 197-214. https://doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2011.577779
Baker, W. (2015). Culture and Identity Through English as a Lingua Franca: Rethinking Concepts and Goals in Intercultural Communication. De Gruyter Mouton.
Bean, H. & E. Boffy-Ramirez (2019). Comparing Chinese undergraduate students’ level of intercultural communication competence: Does studying in the USA make a difference? Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 49(2): 283-297. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2017.1403313
Bray, E. (2010). Using videomail (Vmail) effectively in online intercultural exchanges. CALL-EJ Online, 11(2). Accessed 28 June 2021 from http://callej.org/journal/11-2/bray.html
Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Longman.
Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters.
Byram, M. (2000). Assessing intercultural competence in language teaching. Sprogforum, 6(18): 8-13.
Byram, M. (2006). Language teaching for intercultural citizenship: The European situation. In New Zealand Association of Language Teachers Conference (1-13), University of Auckland.
Byram, M. (2008). From Foreign Language Education to Education for Intercultural Citizenship. Multilingual Matters.
Byram, M. (2012). Conceptualizing intercultural (communicative) competence and intercultural citizenship. In J. Jackson (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication (85–97). Routledge.
Byram, M. (2014). Twenty-five years on: From cultural studies to intercultural citizenship. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 27(3): 209-225. https://doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2014.974329
Chen, X. (2012). On curriculum design for internationalized foreign language talent cultivation from the perspective of cross-cultural communicative competence. Foreign Language World, 5: 73–78.
Choudhury, K. & T. Kakati (2017). ESL/EFL classroom and culture: An Indian context. In Online Proceedings of the International Conference: DRAL 3/19th ESEA 2017 (236-251). Bangkok: King Mongkut’s University of Technology. Accessed 28 June 2021 from
Çiftçi, E.Y. (2016). A review of research on intercultural learning through computer-based digital technologies. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 19(2): 313-327. Accessed 28 June 2021 from https://www.jstor.org/stable/jeductechsoci.19.2.313
Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall.
Creswell, J.W. (2014). A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research. Sage.
Deardorff, D.K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization at institutions of higher education in the United States. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3): 241–266. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1028315306287002
Deng, Z.-W. (2013). Values and aims of intercultural education in global era. Comparative Education Review, 284: 1–6.
East, M. (2012). Addressing the intercultural via task-based language teaching: Possibility or problem? Language and Intercultural Communication, 12(1): 56-73. https://doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2011.626861
Fan, W.W., W.P. Wu & R.Z. Peng (2013). A survey on self-evaluation of Chinese college students’ intercultural competence. Chinese Foreign Language, 6: 53–59.
Fenner, A.-B. (2000). Cultural awareness. In A.-B. Fenner & D. Newby (eds.), Approaches to Materials Design in European Textbooks: Implementing Principles of Authenticity, Learner Autonomy, and Cultural Awareness (142-152). Graz, Austria: European Centre for Modern Languages.
Gao, Y.C. (2006). Survey on Chinese college students’ intercultural communicative competence. Foreign Languages and Foreign Teaching, 12(11): 26–28.
Guilherme, M. (2002). Critical Citizens for an Intercultural World: Foreign Language Education as Cultural Politics. Multilingual Matters.
Han X.H. & L. Song (2011). Teacher cognition of intercultural communicative competence in the Chinese ELT context. Intercultural Communication Studies, 20(1): 175-192. Accessed 28 June 2021 from https://www-s3-live.kent.edu/s3fs-root/s3fs-public/file/13XiaohuiHanLiSong.pdf
Huang, L. (2017). Co-curricular activity-based intercultural competence development: Students’ outcome of internationalisation at universities. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 54(3): 184-193. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2016.1184098
Hurtado, S. (2001). Linking diversity and educational purpose: How diversity affects the classroom environment and student development. In G. Orfield (ed.), Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action (187–203). Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard Education Publishing Group.
Jabbar, A. & G. Hardaker (2012). The role of culturally responsive teaching for supporting ethnic diversity in British university business schools. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(3): 272-284. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2012.725221
Kramsch, C. (2014). Teaching foreign languages in an era of globalization: Introduction. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1): 296-311. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2014.12057.x
Larzén, E. (2005). In Pursuit of an Intercultural Dimension in EFL-teaching: Exploring Cognitions among Finland-Swedish Comprehensive School Teachers. Pargas, Finland: Åbo Akademi University Press.
Liu, C.L. (2016). Cultivation of intercultural awareness in EFL teaching. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(1): 226-232. Accessed 28 June 2021 from http://www.academypublication.com/issues2/jltr/vol07/01/jltr0701.pdf
Liu, J. (2009). Students' construal of intercultural communication competence and intercultural communication teaching. Intercultural Communication Studies, 18(2): 88-102. Accessed 28 June 2021 from https://www-s3-live.kent.edu/s3fs-root/s3fs-public/file/07-Jing-Liu.pdf
Liu, J. & F.G. Fang (2017). Perceptions, awareness and perceived effects of home culture on intercultural communication: Perspectives of university students in China. System, 67: 25-37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.04.003
Miao, L.Y. & Y.A. Wang (2013). A model of intercultural competence development base on Web (网络平台的跨文化能力发展模式构建). Journal of Hangzhou Dianzi University (Social Sciences), 9(4): 68–72.
van Nes, F., T. Abma, H. Jonsson & D. Deeg (2010). Language differences in qualitative research: Is meaning lost in translation? European Journal of Ageing, 7: 313-316. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-010-0168-y
Nguyen, T.T.T. (2017). Integrating culture into language teaching and learning: Learner outcomes. The Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, 17(1): 145-155.
Piątkowska, K. (2015). From cultural knowledge to intercultural communicative competence: Changing perspectives on the role of culture in foreign language teaching. Intercultural Education, 26(5): 397-408. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2015.1092674
Roberts, C., M. Byram, A. Barro, S. Jordan & B. Street (2001). Language Learners as Ethnographers. Multilingual Matters.
Romjue, A. & J. MacDonald (2018). The intercultural classroom: A resource and a method. IALLT Journal of Language Learning Technologies, 48: 53-68. https://doi.org/10.17161/iallt.v48i0.8578
Song, L. (2008). Exploration of a Conceptual Framework for Intercultural Communicative English Language Teaching in China (PhD thesis). Shanghai International Studies University.
UNESCO (2006). UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Accessed 28 June 2021 from http://www.ugr.es/~javera/pdf/DB2.pdf
Wang, P. (2015). The affects of cross-cultural communicative competence on the construct of occupation qualities of high vocational college students (浅析跨文化交际能力在高职生职业素质构建中的作用). Overseas English, 2015(6): 41-42.
Wang, Y.A. & S.J. Kulich (2015). Does context count? Developing and assessing intercultural competence through an interview- and model-based domestic course design in China. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 48: 38-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.013
Wang, Y.A., D.K. Deardorff & S.J. Kulich (2017). Chinese perspectives on intercultural competence in international higher education. In D.K. Deardorff & L.A. Arasaratnam-Smith (eds.), Intercultural Competence in Higher Education: International Approaches, Assessment and Application (95-109). Routledge.
Wang, Y.-P., & W.H. Yu (2008). A comparative study on the intercultural communicative competence of non-English-major students in different contexts. Journal of University of South China (Social Science Edition), 3: 103–106.
Wu, W.-P. (2013). A Comprehensive Evaluation on Chinese College Students’ Intercultural Competence (PhD thesis). Huazhong University of Science and Technology.1
Ye, W.Q. (2014). The Application of Intercultural Sensitizer Approach in English Teaching in the Foreign Language Schools Context in China (master's thesis). Shanghai International Studies University.
Zhao, J.Y. (2013). Taking Chinese–American Literature as a Teaching Tool to Improve the Intercultural Sensitivity of Freshman College Students (master's thesis). Shanghai International Studies University.
Zou, T.X. & J. Yu (2019). Intercultural interactions in Chinese classrooms: A multiple-case study. Studies in Higher Education, 46(3): 649-662. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1647415Baker, W. (2011). Intercultural awareness: Modelling an understanding of cultures in intercultural communication through English as a lingua franca. Language and Intercultural Communication, 11(3): 197-214. https://doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2011.577779
Baker, W. (2015). Culture and Identity Through English as a Lingua Franca: Rethinking Concepts and Goals in Intercultural Communication. De Gruyter Mouton.
Bean, H. & E. Boffy-Ramirez (2019). Comparing Chinese undergraduate students’ level of intercultural communication competence: Does studying in the USA make a difference? Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 49(2): 283-297. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2017.1403313
Bray, E. (2010). Using videomail (Vmail) effectively in online intercultural exchanges. CALL-EJ Online, 11(2). Accessed 28 June 2021 from http://callej.org/journal/11-2/bray.html
Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Longman.
Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters.
Byram, M. (2000). Assessing intercultural competence in language teaching. Sprogforum, 6(18): 8-13.
Byram, M. (2006). Language teaching for intercultural citizenship: The European situation. In New Zealand Association of Language Teachers Conference (1-13), University of Auckland.
Byram, M. (2008). From Foreign Language Education to Education for Intercultural Citizenship. Multilingual Matters.
Byram, M. (2012). Conceptualizing intercultural (communicative) competence and intercultural citizenship. In J. Jackson (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication (85–97). Routledge.
Byram, M. (2014). Twenty-five years on: From cultural studies to intercultural citizenship. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 27(3): 209-225. https://doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2014.974329
Chen, X. (2012). On curriculum design for internationalized foreign language talent cultivation from the perspective of cross-cultural communicative competence. Foreign Language World, 5: 73–78.
Choudhury, K. & T. Kakati (2017). ESL/EFL classroom and culture: An Indian context. In Online Proceedings of the International Conference: DRAL 3/19th ESEA 2017 (236-251). Bangkok: King Mongkut’s University of Technology. Accessed 28 June 2021 from
Çiftçi, E.Y. (2016). A review of research on intercultural learning through computer-based digital technologies. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 19(2): 313-327. Accessed 28 June 2021 from https://www.jstor.org/stable/jeductechsoci.19.2.313
Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall.
Creswell, J.W. (2014). A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research. Sage.
Deardorff, D.K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization at institutions of higher education in the United States. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3): 241–266. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1028315306287002
Deng, Z.-W. (2013). Values and aims of intercultural education in global era. Comparative Education Review, 284: 1–6.
East, M. (2012). Addressing the intercultural via task-based language teaching: Possibility or problem? Language and Intercultural Communication, 12(1): 56-73. https://doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2011.626861
Fan, W.W., W.P. Wu & R.Z. Peng (2013). A survey on self-evaluation of Chinese college students’ intercultural competence. Chinese Foreign Language, 6: 53–59.
Fenner, A.-B. (2000). Cultural awareness. In A.-B. Fenner & D. Newby (eds.), Approaches to Materials Design in European Textbooks: Implementing Principles of Authenticity, Learner Autonomy, and Cultural Awareness (142-152). Graz, Austria: European Centre for Modern Languages.
Gao, Y.C. (2006). Survey on Chinese college students’ intercultural communicative competence. Foreign Languages and Foreign Teaching, 12(11): 26–28.
Guilherme, M. (2002). Critical Citizens for an Intercultural World: Foreign Language Education as Cultural Politics. Multilingual Matters.
Han X.H. & L. Song (2011). Teacher cognition of intercultural communicative competence in the Chinese ELT context. Intercultural Communication Studies, 20(1): 175-192. Accessed 28 June 2021 from https://www-s3-live.kent.edu/s3fs-root/s3fs-public/file/13XiaohuiHanLiSong.pdf
Huang, L. (2017). Co-curricular activity-based intercultural competence development: Students’ outcome of internationalisation at universities. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 54(3): 184-193. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2016.1184098
Hurtado, S. (2001). Linking diversity and educational purpose: How diversity affects the classroom environment and student development. In G. Orfield (ed.), Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action (187–203). Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard Education Publishing Group.
Jabbar, A. & G. Hardaker (2012). The role of culturally responsive teaching for supporting ethnic diversity in British university business schools. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(3): 272-284. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2012.725221
Kramsch, C. (2014). Teaching foreign languages in an era of globalization: Introduction. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1): 296-311. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2014.12057.x
Larzén, E. (2005). In Pursuit of an Intercultural Dimension in EFL-teaching: Exploring Cognitions among Finland-Swedish Comprehensive School Teachers. Pargas, Finland: Åbo Akademi University Press.
Liu, C.L. (2016). Cultivation of intercultural awareness in EFL teaching. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(1): 226-232. Accessed 28 June 2021 from http://www.academypublication.com/issues2/jltr/vol07/01/jltr0701.pdf
Liu, J. (2009). Students' construal of intercultural communication competence and intercultural communication teaching. Intercultural Communication Studies, 18(2): 88-102. Accessed 28 June 2021 from https://www-s3-live.kent.edu/s3fs-root/s3fs-public/file/07-Jing-Liu.pdf
Liu, J. & F.G. Fang (2017). Perceptions, awareness and perceived effects of home culture on intercultural communication: Perspectives of university students in China. System, 67: 25-37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.04.003
Miao, L.Y. & Y.A. Wang (2013). A model of intercultural competence development base on Web (网络平台的跨文化能力发展模式构建). Journal of Hangzhou Dianzi University (Social Sciences), 9(4): 68–72.
van Nes, F., T. Abma, H. Jonsson & D. Deeg (2010). Language differences in qualitative research: Is meaning lost in translation? European Journal of Ageing, 7: 313-316. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-010-0168-y
Nguyen, T.T.T. (2017). Integrating culture into language teaching and learning: Learner outcomes. The Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, 17(1): 145-155.
Piątkowska, K. (2015). From cultural knowledge to intercultural communicative competence: Changing perspectives on the role of culture in foreign language teaching. Intercultural Education, 26(5): 397-408. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675986.2015.1092674
Roberts, C., M. Byram, A. Barro, S. Jordan & B. Street (2001). Language Learners as Ethnographers. Multilingual Matters.
Romjue, A. & J. MacDonald (2018). The intercultural classroom: A resource and a method. IALLT Journal of Language Learning Technologies, 48: 53-68. https://doi.org/10.17161/iallt.v48i0.8578
Song, L. (2008). Exploration of a Conceptual Framework for Intercultural Communicative English Language Teaching in China (PhD thesis). Shanghai International Studies University.
UNESCO (2006). UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Accessed 28 June 2021 from http://www.ugr.es/~javera/pdf/DB2.pdf
Wang, P. (2015). The affects of cross-cultural communicative competence on the construct of occupation qualities of high vocational college students (浅析跨文化交际能力在高职生职业素质构建中的作用). Overseas English, 2015(6): 41-42.
Wang, Y.A. & S.J. Kulich (2015). Does context count? Developing and assessing intercultural competence through an interview- and model-based domestic course design in China. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 48: 38-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.013
Wang, Y.A., D.K. Deardorff & S.J. Kulich (2017). Chinese perspectives on intercultural competence in international higher education. In D.K. Deardorff & L.A. Arasaratnam-Smith (eds.), Intercultural Competence in Higher Education: International Approaches, Assessment and Application (95-109). Routledge.
Wang, Y.-P., & W.H. Yu (2008). A comparative study on the intercultural communicative competence of non-English-major students in different contexts. Journal of University of South China (Social Science Edition), 3: 103–106.
Wu, W.-P. (2013). A Comprehensive Evaluation on Chinese College Students’ Intercultural Competence (PhD thesis). Huazhong University of Science and Technology.1
Ye, W.Q. (2014). The Application of Intercultural Sensitizer Approach in English Teaching in the Foreign Language Schools Context in China (master's thesis). Shanghai International Studies University.
Zhao, J.Y. (2013). Taking Chinese–American Literature as a Teaching Tool to Improve the Intercultural Sensitivity of Freshman College Students (master's thesis). Shanghai International Studies University.
Zou, T.X. & J. Yu (2019). Intercultural interactions in Chinese classrooms: A multiple-case study. Studies in Higher Education, 46(3): 649-662. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1647415

Authors

Yuting Mu
Baohua Yu
baohuayu@eduhk.hk (Primary Contact)
Author Biographies

Yuting Mu, Faculty of Humanity, The Education University of Hong Kong, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong

Mu Yuting received her EdD from the Education University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include intercultural communication, cultivation of students’ intercultural competence, and intercultural language teaching. This manuscript forms part of her thesis.

Baohua Yu, Faculty of Humanity, The Education University of Hong Kong, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong

Baohua Yu is assistant professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the Education University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on digital storytelling, intercultural communication, cross-cultural psychology of international students, and technology-enhanced teaching and learning. Her work has been published in leading international journals such as Re-CALLJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural DevelopmentLanguage Teaching and the International Journal of Intercultural Relations and Higher Education. She is an associate editor of Educational Studies. Currently, she is a principal investigator of the project Enhancing Positive Psychology and Life Value through a Collaborative and Reflective Digital Video Project in a Technological Learning Environment.  

Mu, Y., & Yu, B. (2022). Chinese College Students’ Intercultural Competence: Current Situation, Barriers and Solutions. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 21(2), 44–57. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v21i2.13

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