Developing Intercultural Awareness and Skills in English Majors: A Constructivist Approach

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 IAU. SOUTH BRANCH

2 Associate Professor, IAU, Garmsar Branch

3 English Department, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

10.22099/jtls.2020.35611.2758

Abstract

Abstract
In the fast-changing modern world of today learners need global skills for life-long learning and effective communication. Among these skills are intercultural competence and critical thinking. Although teachers have acknowledged the importance of the inclusion of global skills in their actual teaching procedures, they still need more concrete methodology and tangible pedagogical frameworks to incorporate these skills in their teachings. This study has been an attempt to propose a framework based on the constructivist approach to activate critical thinking and in turn, develop critical cultural awareness and intercultural skills in EFL learners. In order to achieve this aim, a qualitative study was designed; an intercultural syllabus was developed and implemented through the constructivist approach in an academic semester. The related data were then collected through the participants' reflective worksheets and interviews. The content analysis of the data indicated that the constructivist approach and the intercultural syllabus were effective in assisting the participants to apply critical thinking strategies and developing critical cultural awareness and intercultural skills of discovery and interaction; interpreting and relating; and evaluation. Meanwhile, the results of the self-report evaluation survey indicated that the participants evaluated most of the aspects of the intercultural experience positively. The findings of the current study have implications for instructors, materials developers and educational stakeholders who support developing global skills.

Keywords