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Chicana/o Studies


Intercultural competence: We have heard about it, but do language instructors know how to teach it? Is it possible to maintain maximal target language use while doing so? This study investigates the perspectives and practices of intercultural competence and target language use at the novice language levels and also further investigates the connections and differences between high school language settings and university language settings within the implementation of this concept. The 13 participants in the study included a combination of Spanish department faculty at a small liberal arts institution in the Midwest, and alumni that completed the Spanish and teacher education program at that same institution. Previous research and literature has indicated that there is an eminent need for further work in this field, as there is almost no applicable classroom data that discuss and investigate the connections between intercultural competence and target language use in the classroom. In addition to this, the concept of intercultural competence has also emerged as a component of language praxis in the last 10-15 years. As a result of the variety of emerging research, professional development and changes in education, the actual knowledge of the concept, regardless of the implementation in the classroom can vary extensively between instructors. The results of this study challenged much of the prior research in this domain, and the responses from the instructors focused on the affective and developmental levels of their students in relation to the ability to promote intercultural competence and maximize use of the target language. With the many variables and challenges presented by the instructors, the results of the study implicated that it is the affective and developmental variances within the students, as much as teacher preparation and implementation, that determine the ability to promote intercultural competence and its overall acquisition within the students. Subsequently, instructors at different age groups, regardless of the same novice –level language status, have different sets of advantages and disadvantages when teaching the target language.


Approved by: Angela Erickson-Grussing, Nelsy Eschavez-Solano, Allison Spenader, Elena Sanchez-Mora, Tony Cunningham