Intercultural communication competence is the ability of the individual to “communicate effectively and appropriately in various cultural context” (Intercultural communication, 2012). It is critical in the perspective of TESOL because it is the basis for any interaction. This competence deals with the transferring and perception of values, ways of thinking, and views. In this way, it provides an opportunity not only to grasp the information provided by a conversation partner but also to understand his/her worldview and share a personal one. Moreover, individuals who learn English as a second language tend to use it to communicate with the representatives of other cultures whose native language differs. As a result, intercultural communication competence allows them to share the peculiarities of their cultures while interacting.
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The interculturally communicatively competent second language learner who has achieved an advanced level of proficiency should obtain a range of various characteristics. The most vital are such traits as:
- Empathy. The learner can clearly understand behaviors and ways of thinking of other people;
- Respect. The learner admires and appreciates different ways of thinking and communication even though they do not coincide with his/her ones;
- Tolerance. The learner is not only able to get to know different behaviors and ways of thinking but also is willing to accept them. One realizes that other people can have other opinions or behavior but is ready to accept them even if he/she does not agree with them;
- Sensitivity. The learner realizes that other individuals have different ways of thinking that make them act in a particular way and is ready to respond to them;
- Flexibility. The learner is not conservative and is rather open to unfamiliar ways of thinking. One can easily adapt to changes and communicate with people from other cultures.
Trying to foster such advanced proficiency, educators should implicate these generalizations for beginning and intermediate-level TESOL instruction. In this way, they can deepen into the background information about their students and involve them in activities targeted to contrast and compare native and targeted cultures. Of course, beginners will not be able to discuss the topic on a decent level but they can give short answers to the questions asked by the teacher (for example: – Do you bow to a person you respect? – No. / – Do Chinese people bow to the person they respect? – Yes.). Students with an intermediate level of English can be asked to create a dialogue imagining that they are people from two different countries who met during the excursion in the US. In this way, learners will get acquainted with various cultures and will get prepared for intercultural communication.
Intercultural communication. (2012). Web.