Intercultural awareness inside and outside the classroom

How curious are you about your target culture? Are you confident or nervous about your ability to make the best use of your international classroom experience? It is worth taking the time to think about what you want to get out of your classroom from a cultural perspective.

Take a look at the following composition exercise that looks at cultural attitudes and beliefs:

Someone who moves to a foreign country should always adopt the customs and way of life of this country, rather than holding on to his/her own customs.

What do you think? Why not ask yourself the same question across each context of language learning: Formal Instruction, Immersion and Study Abroad? Give yourself 20 minutes to write your answer and perhaps keep it as part of your academic diary. It will be interesting to reflect in the future on the three different compositions.

If you are stuck for ideas, here is a flavour of the types of things that international students on study abroad sojourns in Catalonia thought were important:

  • A key aspect of moving to another country is the chance to become more interculturally aware.
  • Academic sojourns in other countries are not just for learning foreign languages and studying in foreign universities, but also provide a passport into another culture.
  • There is a connection between intercultural sensitivity and future employability in a global economy.
  • Talking to the locals about politics and their favorite TV shows is a good way of accessing culture through language.
  • People have plural identities. Some people find a middle way: holding on to some of their own cultural practices whilst adopting the way of life of the new country to some extent too.