This study sought to understand how teachers of Maltese as a foreign language (MFL) develop intercultural competence by exploring the importance of intercultural competence (IC) to MFL teachers, the characteristics of interculturally competent MFL educators, and the ways in which educators develop IC. The study adopted the interpretivist paradigm and a case study research design to collect qualitative data. Seventeen MFL teachers of adult learners were purposefully selected because they all taught MFL to non-native adults. These educators were interviewed, by answering the researcher’s ten unstructured questions. A smartphone was used to record the interviewees. Findings regarding the perceptions of the teachers who were interviewed are as follows. Firstly, the participants stated that IC is important for MFL teachers because it helps them to embrace diversity, to help adult learners to learn the target language (i.e. Maltese) better, and to be sensitive and accommodative to learners from different backgrounds. Secondly, according to the participants, an interculturally capable person is one who knows their own culture and others’ cultural aspects, respects and accepts other cultures. It was also found that teachers develop intercultural capabilities through learning at a school and by visiting other countries and being immersed in the cultures of those countries. The implications of the findings as supported by existing literature, are that IC is important for foreign language teachers and as a result, intercultural training, learning through interactions with others and visits to other countries are necessary to develop intercultural capabilities.
Jacqueline Zammit, University of Malta, Malta