Today’s professionals in various fields need skills in intercultural communication, perhaps even in a transnational context. Intercultural communication can be effective if the participants share a common understanding of what communicative and professional practices are appropriate and meaningful. However, intercultural communication can be challenging on virtual courses, where students can work individually, perhaps even asynchronically, not meeting face-to-face with either the teacher or their peers. Perhaps one method for achieving effective intercultural communication could be to create a new common culture through reciprocal communication, perhaps not even using one’s native language. (Cf. Berry 2011, Byram 1997, Cai et al 2000, Kramsch 1993 & 2006). In this case study, intercultural communication is seen as communication in a given social context that requires various different skills from different participants. Communicative competence in turn can be seen as a combination of a cognitive dimension, skills, and attitudinal orientation towards others manifested in a given context. This case study investigates positive student attitudes during a virtual foreign language course in contexts that require different types of communication from the students. The research question is: How are we able to help in teaching communicative skills that are relevant in future professions?
Niina Kovalainen, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland