Intercultural Communicative Competence in the EFL Classroom

الكفاءة التواصلية بين الثقافات في فصل اللغة الإنجليزية كلغة أجنبية

Compétence communicative interculturelle dans la classe d'anglais langue étrangère

Salima Soltani Dalila Brakni

p. 509-525

Salima Soltani Dalila Brakni, « Intercultural Communicative Competence in the EFL Classroom », Aleph, Vol 10 (4-1) | 2023, 509-525.

Salima Soltani Dalila Brakni, « Intercultural Communicative Competence in the EFL Classroom », Aleph [], Vol 10 (4-1) | 2023, 25 May 2023, 21 July 2024. URL :

Effectively engaging in cross-cultural communication and establishing shared understanding amidst diverse cultures presents a formidable endeavor. Intercultural communication entails the adept exchange and deliberate negotiation of meanings among individuals hailing from disparate backgrounds and exhibiting distinct cultural behaviors. At times, due to the continuous interplay between cultures, one culture might perceive the other's norms, values, identity, or religious aspects as unfamiliar, adversarial, or even menacing. Consequently, intercultural dialogue emerges as a pivotal avenue for mitigating such intercultural misconceptions and facilitating effective and apt communication. Nevertheless, this phenomenon persists as a pressing challenge confronting contemporary societies. The current discourse elucidates prominent definitions and conceptual frameworks of intercultural communicative competences within academic discourse. Additionally, it seeks to elucidate the practical implications of intercultural communicative competence within foreign language classrooms, particularly within the Algerian context. Furthermore, the discourse delves into pertinent models for assessing intercultural communicative competence and proffers practical strategies and methodologies for nurturing learners' intercultural communicative competences.

درة على التواصل بفعالية وإيجاد أسس مشتركة للتفاهم بين الثقافات ليست مهمة سهلة. يتضمن التواصل الثقافي البادرة المناسبة ومفاوضة المعنى بين أفراد ذوي خلفيات وسلوكيات ثقافية مختلفة. في بعض الحالات، وبسبب التفاعل المستمر بين الثقافات، قد يعتبر الفرد ثقافة الآخر غريبة وعدائية وتهديدية عندما يتعلق الأمر بمسائل مثل القيم والهوية والدين على سبيل المثال. وفي هذا السياق، يمكن أن يكون الحوار الثقافي وسيلة مهمة للتغلب على هذه السوء الفهم وللتواصل بفعالية وبشكل مناسب. ومع ذلك، فإنه يظل أحد التحديات الرئيسية التي تواجه المجتمعات الحديثة اليوم. يسلط المقال الحالي الضوء على بعض التعريفات والأطر السائدة للكفاءات الاتصالية الثقافية في الأوساط الأكاديمية. علاوة على ذلك، يهدف إلى توضيح معنى الكفاءة الاتصالية الثقافية في الممارسة داخل فصول تعليم اللغات الأجنبية، ولا سيما في السياق الجزائري بذاته، بالإضافة إلى النماذج الرئيسية لتقييم الكفاءة الاتصالية الثقافية، وتقديم بعض الاقتراحات والتقنيات العملية لدعم كفاءات التواصل الثقافي لدى المتعلمين.

S'engager efficacement dans la communication interculturelle et établir une compréhension commune au sein de cultures diverses est une entreprise redoutable. La communication interculturelle implique l'échange adroit et la négociation délibérée de significations entre des individus issus de milieux disparates et présentant des comportements culturels distincts. Parfois, en raison de l'interaction permanente entre les cultures, l'une d'entre elles peut percevoir les normes, les valeurs, l'identité ou les aspects religieux de l'autre comme des éléments inconnus, contradictoires, voire menaçants. Par conséquent, le dialogue interculturel apparaît comme un moyen essentiel d'atténuer ces idées fausses et de faciliter une communication efficace et appropriée. Néanmoins, ce phénomène reste un défi pressant auquel sont confrontées les sociétés contemporaines. Le présent discours élucide les principales définitions et les cadres conceptuels des compétences en communication interculturelle dans le discours universitaire. En outre, il cherche à élucider les implications pratiques de la compétence communicative interculturelle dans les classes de langues étrangères, en particulier dans le contexte algérien. En outre, le discours se penche sur des modèles pertinents d'évaluation de la compétence en communication interculturelle et propose des stratégies et des méthodologies pratiques pour développer les compétences en communication interculturelle des apprenants.

In contemporary society, an increasing number of individuals are experiencing heightened interactions with counterparts from diverse cultural backgrounds, thereby encountering disparate worldviews and modes of expression. The challenge lies in the establishment of a cohesive platform wherein these multifaceted concepts converge and attain mutual intelligibility. This task is further complicated by the innate influence of an individual's native culture and language, which frequently leads to erroneous impressions and misunderstandings. These occurrences arise from an unconscious projection of one's own behavioral codes and patterns onto others.

In this context, the integration of intercultural communication knowledge within English as a Foreign Language (EFL) curriculum assumes paramount significance. This integration serves to equip students with the acumen required to adeptly navigate a globalized world (Byram & Wagner, 2018). Consequently, students must cultivate a robust repertoire of skills and competencies to proficiently engage across an array of intercultural settings.

Indeed, this imperative necessitates the design of educational initiatives that are not merely responsive to these exigencies but also encompasses the delineation of constituent elements of intercultural competence. Furthermore, it is imperative to formulate rigorous assessment tools and methodologies geared towards quantifying such competence. The present discourse endeavors to elucidate the multifaceted dimensions intrinsic to Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), thereby endeavoring to dissipate the obfuscation surrounding this concept. Furthermore, the paper expounds upon pivotal pedagogical approaches germane to the assimilation of ICC within the foreign language classroom. It also propounds the development of assessment instruments that facilitate heightened student awareness and comprehension of intercultural dynamics.

1. The Global Diffusion of English: Implications for Intercultural Communication

In the contemporary era of globalization, the acquisition of the English language has emerged as a pivotal determinant in the broader process of internationalization. Proficiency in English bestows advantages upon those who possess it, conferring access to global discourse and participation, while concurrently marginalizing individuals lacking such linguistic competence. This dynamic engenders a dialectic of inclusion and exclusion, thereby framing the citizenship dimension within the realm of global language users. However, a mere command of English vocabulary and syntax does not suffice to facilitate effective cross-cultural communication among diverse English speakers on a global scale. Instead, the efficacy of intercultural communication hinges upon the intricate negotiation of meaning, an orientation of tolerance towards linguistic and cultural variance, and an astute awareness of divergent socio-cultural norms—a constellation encompassing what is termed as Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC).

The proliferation of English language utilization on a global scale has been markedly accentuated in the post-World War II era, concomitant with the rise of supranational entities like the United Nations. This expansive trajectory has been further galvanized by the exigencies of an international market-driven economy and the diffusion of Anglo-Saxon democratic paradigms (Kramsch & Zhu Hua, 2016). Concomitantly, English has been established as the de facto medium of instruction in higher education institutions across numerous nations. This transition also heralded an evolving pedagogical consciousness, as the rudiments of language instruction transitioned from a predominantly cultural-agnostic approach towards one that acknowledges and integrates the intercultural communicative dimension—a transformation catalyzed by the advent of the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) paradigm and the concurrent maturation of sociolinguistic scholarship.

It is evident that the inexorable tide of globalization has engendered a heightened imperative for nations and individuals to transcend linguistic confines and engage in meaningful discourse with an increasingly diversified global populace. The pursuit of multifarious endeavors such as international diplomacy, trade, and cross-border mobility compels a concomitant demand for heightened linguistic dexterity—indeed, an inclination towards bilingualism, if not multilingualism, prevails. While translations and interpretations may ameliorate linguistic disparities, a fundamental lacuna remains—namely, the nuanced socio-cultural connotations that saturate language expression (Crystal, 2003, p.14).

From an intercultural vantage point, the pedagogy of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) assumes a dual-fold objective. First and foremost, TEFL instruction must facilitate the acquisition of communicative competencies that empower learners to engage in verbal and written interaction with a requisite degree of cultural nuance. Such proficiency entails a shift from perceiving the target language as an autotelic object of study to leveraging it as an efficacious medium of discourse on substantive topics (Wesche & Ready, 1985, p. 90). Secondly, the instructional schema must be attuned to cultivating learners' Intercultural Communicative Competence, thereby capacitating them to engage in coherent and comprehensible cross-cultural dialogues. This entails a deliberate cultivation of intercultural sensitivity, engendering an appreciation for the diversity of social identities and the judicious navigation of cultural convergences and divergences—an orientation that augments not only effective communication but also harmonious cross-cultural coexistence.

2. Conceptualizing Intercultural Communicative Competence: A Comprehensive Overview

The emergence of the concept of intercultural communication dates back nearly a century, with its initial formulation credited to Edward Sapir, an esteemed American anthropologist-linguist, who laid its foundational underpinnings in the early 1920s. Subsequently, Benjamin Whorf contributed to its refinement, contextualizing it within the ambit of communicative inquiry. Central to the discourse surrounding communicative competence is the notion of intercultural communicative competence—a critical inquiry delving into the mechanisms by which individuals navigate the tapestry of cultural disparities.

In a world characterized by dynamic shifts and evolutions, the imperative of harmonizing educational paradigms with the tenor of modern society is conspicuously pronounced. Within this juncture, a compelling exigency arises for both educators and students to possess a reservoir of intercultural knowledge and competence, affording mutual comprehensibility and adept management of intercultural interactions.

2.1. Delimiting the Contours of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC)

Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) constitutes a multidimensional framework encompassing intercultural knowledge, skills, attitudes, and competences. Its cardinal objective is to equip foreign language learners with the requisite acumen to effectively navigate intercultural encounters. The corpus of ICC theory has been extensively articulated by scholars such as Byram (1997), Deardorff (2006), and Fantini (2007). An integrated comprehension of intercultural communication augments learners' capacity to seamlessly assimilate and engage within the globalized milieu (Byram & Wagner, 2018, p. 149). ICC transcends a mere terminal objective, epitomizing a perpetual voyage characterized by continuous enhancement (Deardorff, 2006). Evidently, fostering effective and appropriate communication across multifarious contexts necessitates more than linguistic adeptness—it mandates a nuanced grasp of intercultural competences and the intricacies of operating within the interstices of languages.

Lazar, Matei & Peck (2007), informed by the rubrics of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), define ICC as the "ability to communicate effectively in cross-cultural situations and relate appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts" (p. 9). This encompassing definition amalgamates both the facets of intercultural competence and intercultural communicative competence. It engages with skills of observation, interpretation, and discovery, intertwined with attitudes of respect, empathy, and openness towards cultural alterity. This holistic orientation eschews prejudicial judgement and categorization, propelling intercultural understanding to transcend mere semantics.

Byram (1997) elaborates on the construct through his ICC model, which delineates five distinct dimensions germane to intercultural interaction—ranging from linguistic and socio-linguistic competences to discourse competences. This model elucidates that diverse skills are requisite for the interpretative decipherment of events within a given culture. "Savoir," denoting an encompassing knowledge rooted in social groups or immersive exposure, constitutes one dimension. Concurrently, "critical cultural awareness" involves discerning pivotal practices within cultures and recognizing their intrinsic significance. Byram accentuates the imperative of cultivating a flexible attitude, necessitating open-mindedness and receptivity to foreign cultures, thereby enhancing the capacity to respond sagaciously. Byram underscores the relevance of inculcating authentic cultural content within the EFL classroom, emphasizing its contextual pertinence and discarding contrived isolation (Byram, 1989).

Beyond Byram's model, alternate definitions underscore ICC's synergy with communicative competence, encapsulating a comprehensive amalgamation of knowledge concerning host cultures, empathetic attitudes, and adept communication proficiencies (Hall, 2002, p. 109). Thus, ICC emerges as an intricate web of abilities facilitating effective and appropriate interactions across cultural boundaries (Fantini, 2005). This consensual explication posits ICC as a dynamic entity—a holistic assemblage of competences enabling individuals to adroitly navigate encounters with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The aforestated array of definitions, underscored by analogous conceptions pervading academia (see table 01), underscores the palpable import of fostering an acute cultural awareness, thereby furnishing both educators and learners with the requisite toolkit to proficiently operate within the kaleidoscope of cultures.

Table 01: Definitions and models of ICC L. Griffith et al (2016)




Bennett (1986)

Intercultural sensitivity

"The way people construe cultural difference and … the varying kinds of experience that accompany these constructions" (Bennett, 1993). Development of intercultural sensitivity through six stages: denial, defence/reversal, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, and integration.

Lambert (1994)

Global competence

World knowledge, foreign language proficiency, cultural empathy, approval of foreign people and cultures, ability to practice one’s profession in an international setting.

Fantini (1995)

Intercultural communicative competence

“1) The ability to develop and maintain relationships, 2) the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with minimal loss or distortion, and 3) the ability to attain compliance and obtain cooperation with others” (Fantini et al., 2001).

Byram (1997)

Communicative competence

Knowledge of others, knowledge of self, skills to interpret and relate, skills to discover and/or interact; valuing others’ values, beliefs and behaviours and relativising one’s self. Linguistic competence plays a key role” (Byram 1997).

Y. Y. Kim (2000)

Host communication competence

One’s adaptive capacity to suspend/modify old cultural ways, learn/accommodate to new cultural ways, and creatively manage dynamics of cultural difference/unfamiliarity and accompanying stress.

D.A Griffith and Harvey (2000)

Intercultural communicative competence

Cultural understanding, cultural interaction, communication interaction, relationship quality. A component in a network of intercultural constructs that collectively can be judged by the criterion of relationship quality, cultural understanding and intercultural communication competence directly predict relationship quality.

Deardorff (2004, 2006)

ICC: requisite attitudes, knowledge and comprehension, skills, desired internal outcomes, desired external outcomes

“The ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Deardorff, 2004).

P. M. King and Baxter Magolda (2005)

Intercultural Maturity: cognitive, intrapersonal, interpersonal components across three levels, (initial, intermediate and mature development)

Through ongoing study, observation and interaction with individuals from another culture, one can develop greater intercultural awareness and sensitivity.

Presented from various angles, the aforementioned definitions converge and diverge based on the distinct disciplinary perspectives and their respective objectives. Some models are formulated in terms of individual progression over time, treating Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) as an enduring lifelong process (e.g., Bennett, 1986; P. M. King & Baxter Magolda, 2005). Other models center on a descriptive exposition of the attributes inherent in ICC components — namely, knowledge, skills, and attitudes (e.g., Deardorff, 2006; Lambert, 1994) — while certain models strive to delineate and analyze the components or processes underpinning successful intercultural interactions (e.g., Fantini, 1995; Byram, 1997). Notably, Byram’s (1997) definition and model stand as a widely advocated framework for intercultural studies, particularly within foreign language contexts, due to its compatibility for effective integration into the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) curriculum.

2.2. ICC and its Implications for Foreign Language Teaching

The conceptual alignment of ICC with knowledge, attitudes, and competences in the realm of foreign language instruction proves to be a nuanced perspective, considering the task of unraveling complexities within the teaching and learning milieu. In light of the opportunities and challenges presented by globalization, educators across the globe are compelled to discern optimal pathways for nurturing learners’ proficiency and competence in foreign language acquisition. Consequently, the endeavor to equip learners with the aptitude to communicate efficaciously across the multifaceted tapestry of diverse cultural terrains stands forth as a formidable undertaking.

Consensus prevails that the pursuit of foreign language mastery, enfolded within the intercultural paradigm, equates to navigating distinct vantage points of a shared world. This endeavor necessitates a temporary shift in perspective — a role-reversal wherein one momentarily embodies the alterity of another. This juncture encapsulates the challenge of reconciling and bridging the chasm between divergent perspectives — namely, one’s intrinsic worldview and that of the other.

To bolster learners’ intercultural acumen and cognizance, pedagogues may adroitly wield a cross-cultural approach within the domain of foreign language pedagogy. Kramsch (1998) asserts the efficacy of such an approach in fostering connections across generations, ethnic cohorts, social strata, and cultures. This approach postulates the notion that a “sole” modality of engendering a holistic comprehension of both the native culture (C1) and host culture(s) (C2) materializes by situating the learner within an intermediary standpoint (C3). This vantage point affords the learner the duality of experiencing C1 and C2 as both an insider and an outsider — a dexterous positioning that engenders a more astute intercultural understanding.

Baker (2012) similarly contends that foreign language classrooms furnish an ideal milieu wherein instructors and learners collaboratively partake in authentic multilingual encounters and practices, thus endowing learners with the requisite preparation to engage within a universal milieu.

Likewise, alternate avenues exist for fostering ICC within the foreign language pedagogical domain, such as “project work” and “cooperative learning” (Barrett et al., 2013). Both methodologies expose learners to diverse cultures, enabling them to juxtapose, evaluate, introspect, and manifest their intercultural potential through varied tasks.

The foreign language curriculum ought to proffer learners opportunities to deploy their intercultural proficiencies, transcending the confines of cultivating awareness exclusively concerning their native cultural identity or acquainting them with cultural attributes of Anglophone societies, particularly Britain and America. The curriculum should instead endeavor to facilitate genuine real-life scenarios for EFL learners, wherein they can navigate the nuanced nuances of meaning negotiation, cultural identities, and recalibration of their own perspectives vis-à-vis the “other.”

Foremost, foreign language learning practices should galvanize the maturation of learners’ ICC, enabling them to emerge as adept “intercultural operators” (Byram et al., 2002, p. 9) who, through heightened awareness of their own cultural context, can adeptly decipher and embrace alternative cultural landscapes. To elucidate, instruction centered around intercultural encounters within foreign language learning augments students’ awareness, nurturing inquisitiveness for both the target and home cultures (Byram, Morgan et al., 1994, p. 5). However, it is prudent for educators in certain contexts to exercise caution and prudence, as an excessive emphasis on cultural themes may inadvertently obfuscate local values, creating a perception of privileging foreign language values to the detriment of native cultural heritage.

In alignment with this, the global academic community, alongside internationally recognized organizations such as UNESCO (2006), espouses the infusion of intercultural awareness within foreign language classrooms. This emphasis seeks to orient students toward empathy, human rights, and the appreciation of diversity and divergence within a world that remains intrinsically predisposed.

2.3. ICC within the Algerian Foreign Language Classroom

Attaining a state of “complete” intercultural communicative competence remains a subject of skepticism, as it is acknowledged as an enduring and ongoing process (Deardorff, 2011, 2016; Barrett et al., 2013). It is worth noting, however, that a positive correlation exists between the extent of practice and the level of proficiency achieved.

Turning our attention to the Algerian English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms, despite the series of educational reforms and advancements that have been implemented to enhance the quality of education, instructors still encounter challenges in effectively integrating ICC into the foreign language instructional framework. A central concern pertains to the adaptability of prevailing teaching approaches and methodologies in accommodating the evolving requisites of EFL classes within an increasingly intercultural landscape. Thus, the transition from theoretical underpinnings to practical implementation warrants a strategic focus on aligning the acquisition and development of ICC with pertinent EFL teaching methodologies.

The evident disparity between English as utilized in extramural contexts (e.g., video games, movies, and the internet) and its utilization within the confines of the classroom underscores a significant disjunction, prompting inquiries into the efficacy of knowledge dissemination, learning materials, and pedagogical techniques.

A notable investigation conducted by Souryana Yassine in 2012 encompassed 17 high schools in Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria, involving 28 EFL educators and the scrutiny of three locally designed textbooks catering to third-year secondary school English learners. The study centered on salient aspects related to Culture, Ideology, and Otherness. Yassine accentuated the imperative of reevaluating teaching methodologies with the aim of bolstering the pragmatic dimensions of social interaction — through which language and culture are inextricably linked — potentially fostering learners’ communicative competence and intercultural engagements. A pivotal recommendation proffered by Yassine endorsed the adoption of a text-based pedagogical approach in lieu of the extant thematic-based paradigm, an approach that aligns with the overarching pedagogical trajectory, namely the Competency-Based Approach (CBA), which has gained ascendancy since the early 2000s. Yassine elucidated, “Fully exploiting the semiotic potential of a given text ensures insights not solely into the linguistic fabric but also into the cultural ideologies permeating the context, thereby illuminating both surface and profound cultural dimensions. It offers insights into the identities of producers, the portrayal of recipients, and the modes of interpersonal interaction that shape the nexus between the Self and the Other.” (Souryana Yassine, 2012)

A corollary perspective is upheld by Merrouche (2006), who similarly contends that the portrayal of culture within Algerian textbooks remains anemic, stemming from an inadequate acknowledgment of its pertinence to the “fundamental enterprise of imparting language instruction.”

Consequently, Algerian textbooks adhere to a thematic framework that underscores linguistic facets, potentially marginalizing socio-cultural attributes within the educational process. Notwithstanding the Algerian education system’s endeavors to parallel global trends, manifest in the recent revisions to school textbooks encompassing themes of culture and interculturality (e.g., diversity, intercultural exchanges, peace, and conflict resolution), these pedagogical strategies often accentuate the subject of interculturality without commensurately elucidating effective approaches to cultivating and honing ICC, nor do they furnish apt assessment tools.

2.4. Assessment of ICC

Notwithstanding the earnest exertions of educational systems and EFL instructors to enhance learners’ intercultural communicative competences within foreign language classrooms, many learners continue to grapple with the practical application of English in a comprehensible manner. To engender and assess intercultural awareness, an efficacious foreign language teaching methodology must originate from the learners’ perspective as a foundational standpoint (Wallner, 1995:09).

Assessment, at its essence, is characterized as “any method of situating an individual’s accomplishments on a continuum” (Byram, 2008, p. 220). Within the ambit of our exploration, assessing intercultural communicative competence proves intricate, owing to the absence of unanimous accord concerning a precise delineation of ICC (Deardorff, 2006). There exists a divergence of opinion as to whether ICC should be assessed holistically as a composite set of attributes, including knowledge, attitude, empathy, and openness, or whether individual competences should be assessed in isolation (Helm & Davies, 2010). The establishment of a cogent ICC definition, aligned with the goals of specific research, is pivotal in guiding the identification of measurable objectives, subsequently underpinning the selection of qualitative and quantitative ICC assessment methodologies and instruments.

Although the notion of assessing ICC might appear distant or even mythical, it is, in fact, a tenable endeavor (Deardorff, 2015). A prudent approach to ICC assessment entails the initial selection of a coherent definition harmonized with the facets slated for evaluation (Deardorff, 2011). As is characteristic of most assessment endeavors, the design is contingent upon the envisioned rationale. Importantly, ICC can be seamlessly woven into the curriculum and assessed through discernible learning outcomes, facilitated through a comprehensive, multi-faceted, and multi-perspective approach (refer to Table 02).

Table 02: Existing Assessment Formats of ICC. L. Griffith et al (2016)




Fantini and Tirmizi, 2006

Self-report, 6-point Likert scale (not at all competent to extremely high competence)

Four dimensions: knowledge, attitudes, skills, and critical awareness

Multicultural Personality Questionnaire van der Zee and Van Odenhoven, 2000

Self-report, multi-point Likert scale (not at all applicable to totally applicable)

Multicultural effectiveness measured across five subscales: cultural empathy, open-mindedness, emotional stability, flexibility, and social initiative

The INCA Project (2007)

21-statement questionnaire on intercultural situations

Tolerance for ambiguity, behavioral flexibility, communicative awareness, knowledge discovery, respect for otherness, and empathy

Behavioral Assessment Scale for Intercultural Communication (BASIC) 1989

Peer rating, 4-point rating scale

Assessment of individuals’ intercultural-communication effectiveness

Cross-Cultural Sensitivity Scale (CCSS) 1993

Self-report, 6-point Likert scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree)

Measurement of valuation and tolerance of different cultures

Within the realm of higher education, the assessment of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) is predominantly facilitated through two fundamental design approaches: surveys and portfolios, which frequently incorporate constructed-response items. These assessment methodologies are systematically categorized and may be implemented based on the quantity of items contained within, ranging from brief to comprehensive assessments as outlined by Griffith et al. (2016). To illustrate, the application of the Likert scale is deemed suitable for evaluating attitudinal facets, whereas the utilization of multiple-choice questions proves more apt for the evaluation of the cognitive knowledge and practical skills constituting ICC (refer to Table 03).

Table 03: assessment items with 80./. to 100./. agreement among top intercultural experts1 (Deardorff, 2006)

Ways to Assess Intercultural Competence






Case studies










Mix of quantitative and qualitative measures





Analysis of narrative diaries





Self-report instruments





Observation by others/host culture





Judgement by self and others





Developing specific indicators for each component/dimension of ICC and evidence of each indicator





Triangulation (use of multiple data collection efforts as corroborative evidence for the validity of qualitative research findings)





Presently, and within the scope of the researcher’s awareness, the absence of a universally acknowledged standard assessment tool is evident. The configuration of these tools is primarily contingent upon the deliberate objectives underpinning the assessment rationale. It follows that the constitution of these tools, delineated by content, typology, and the method of evaluation, demonstrates a degree of variability across diverse academic institutions, specific goals, and contextual environments (Griffith et al., 2016).

3. Recommendations for Enhancing ICC in the Foreign Language Classroom

While scholars assert that existing pedagogical approaches aim to enhance students’ intercultural communicative competence, the practical realization of these claims is frequently lacking. Fostering ICC necessitates collective responsibility, involving educational institutions, curriculum designers, and educators. In pursuit of advancing EFL students’ ICC, foreign language instructors may consider the following strategies:

  • Integration of Authentic Materials: The utilization of authentic materials within the classroom context stands as a potent motivational tool. This approach enables learners to discern the existence of a genuine community wherein the English language is employed for daily interactions. Exposure to authentic materials facilitates a genuine engagement with real-life language usage, social customs, and ways of life. Gilmore (2004) underscores the efficacy of authentic texts in enhancing communicative competence. These texts offer learners a wellspring of linguistic input, encompassing insights into grammatical, pragmatic, and discourse-related facets of authentic conversational discourse, which are often underrepresented in conventional language textbooks.

  • Adoption of Text-Based Pedagogy: The incorporation of a text-based pedagogical approach empowers learners to explore, construe, and construct meaning through comparative and contrastive analysis, thereby fostering enhanced intercultural interactions.

  • Implementation of Cooperative Learning: The employment of cooperative learning methodologies, whenever feasible, facilitates collaborative engagement among culturally diverse student cohorts. By collaborating in heterogeneous groups encompassing learners from distinct cultural backgrounds, cultural awareness and sensitization are nurtured.

  • Utilization of Context-Appropriate Assessment Techniques: The selection of assessment methodologies must align with the cultural context, distinct learning styles, and the specific needs of students. Notably, assessments should prioritize the demonstration of cognitive comprehension, transcending a mere linguistic focus (Allison & Rehm, 2007). Assessment, in this context, assumes the role of an instructive tool rather than a mere evaluative instrument.

  • Integration of ICC Across the Curriculum: Given that ICC encompasses a multifaceted array of competences, encompassing knowledge, skills, and attitudes, the onus of its impartation does not reside solely within a singular course. Instead, ICC should be seamlessly woven into the design of all components constituting the EFL curriculum.


Elevated to the status of a pivotal lifelong skill within the contours of a globalized world, the imperative of gauging and cultivating learners’ ICC assumes paramount importance. In this endeavor, the incorporation of intercultural communicative competence within foreign language pedagogy emerges as a central pillar, profoundly entwined with diverse facets of human existence. Subsequently, educators must devote meticulous attention to the development of an apt instructional methodology. The ongoing and exploratory nature of ICC as a subject of scholarly inquiry aligns it with the broader ideals of global literacy and heightened cultural consciousness (Bennett, 2008; Fantini, 2010). While ICC may be articulated through varying lexicons by scholars hailing from disparate disciplines, the underlying definitions invariably converge toward a shared goal: the cultivation of the capacity to navigate and mediate cultural disparities within a globally interconnected society, thereby engendering a genuinely globalized mindset.

1 A number of accredited intercultural scholars took part of Deardorff’s Delphi, a technique that aimed to find a common consensus by a on a

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1 A number of accredited intercultural scholars took part of Deardorff’s Delphi, a technique that aimed to find a common consensus by a on a definition and components of ICC, as well as recommended ways for assessing ICC. They are Janet Bennett, Michael Byram, Guo-ming Chen, Mary Jane Collier, Mitchell Hammer, Daniel J. Kealey, Jolene Koester, L. Robert Kohls, Bruce La Brack, Josef Mestenhauser, Robert Moran, R. Michael Paige, Paul Pedersen, Margaret Pusch, Brian Spitzberg, Craig Storti, Craig Storti & Associates, Harry Triandis, Gary Weaver, Richard Wiseman, and four other intercultural scholars who served on the panel but did not wish to be acknowledged.

Salima Soltani

Lisodil- Lounici Ali- University of Blida 2

Dalila Brakni

Ali Lounici -University of Blida 2

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