Japanese universities face an increasing demand - from students as well as industries - for quality education that is directly connected to the improvement of students' employability. One of the important components of employability is intercultural competence. As the world becomes more globalized and diversified, our students need to be not only internationally minded but also equipped with the skills to effectively work with people from different backgrounds. Education-abroad will probably be the most effective way to develop the intercultural competence. Yet, data suggests that only a few percent of students on average in Japanese universities take advantage of studying abroad due to reasons such as financial difficulty, lack of language proficiency, fear of delaying graduation, and so forth. Intercultural co-learning classes designed to promote meaningful interactions between international and domestic students have great potential to develop students' intercultural competence while they are at home. In the classes, thematic discussions and/or collaborative projects by students with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds are built into the learner-centered lessons where different ways of thinking, values, and working styles are respected. The intensive interactions across cultures enable students to gain deeper insights into their differences and similarities, reflect on their own cultures and identities, and reconstruct themselves. Previous studies suggest the effectiveness of intercultural co-learning, yet few connect the benefits and intercultural competence development. In this session, the results of research investigating the connection will be presented along with some pedagogical implications.
Kazuko Suematsu, Tohoku University, Japan
Stream: International Education
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