Intercultural language education that seeks to cultivate learners’ intercultural communicative competence has been an integral part of TESOL over the past few decades, but little is known about the extent to which undergraduate-level intercultural education delivered by Chinese universities is perceived as useful and valuable assets that Chinese postgraduate students can draw upon in their intercultural encounters. As such, building on Byram’s (1997) theoretical model of Intercultural Communicative Competence, this phenomenological study sets out to understand how Chinese postgraduate students studying abroad in the UK perceive the impact of their previous intercultural education on their overseas adjusting and English language learning experiences. Research data were collected from 12 Chinese postgraduate students via unstructured interviews, participants’ personal reflection writings, along with memoing. Results emerging from a robust thematic analysis reveal that Chinese postgraduate students have mixed feelings about their undergraduate intercultural education, with the majority of them satisfied with practice-oriented intercultural education and less with the formal cross-cultural curriculum. In addition, the results suggest that there is no direct relationship between intercultural language learning and linguistic gains, but intercultural instruction can bear upon their engagement in English language learning practices that help to prepare them for their future intercultural sojourns. This study leaves implications for revamping Chinese university intercultural education, highlighting the empowerment of students to be active participants in the intercultural curriculum so that they can exert agency to engage in more efficient intercultural learning and teaching practices.
Chaojun Ma, Suzhou No.1 Secondary School, China
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