(Re)imagining a Course in Language and Intercultural Communication for the 21st Century

Keywords: intercultural communication, languages, higher education, teaching


Over twenty-five years ago, leading scholars in the field of intercultural communication William B. Gudykunst, Stella Ting-Toomey and Richard Wiseman published the paper “Taming the beast: Designing a course in intercultural communication.” We revisit their work in light of renewed interest in the design and implementation of the intercultural communication (ICC) course as a key site for engaging with diversity in universities around the world. Our paper draws on Gudykunst et al.’s overview of four major issues instructors should consider in designing and delivering an introductory ICC course: (a) philosophical and ethical issues, (b) pedagogical issues, (c) curricular content; and (d) resources and teaching techniques. We draw on these four issues to conduct a critical appraisal of the current state of the ICC field and to reflect on Gudykunst et al.’s recommendations in the 21st century. We pay particular attention to the increasingly stronger links between the fields of ICC and modern/foreign language (MFL) education through the key role that language(s) play in meaning making in interaction. We therefore use the issues identified by Gudykunst et al.’s seminal work as a springboard to discuss key parameters that may assist instructors in the design of a reimagined ICC course, responsive to the crucial role of language and languages in engaging with diversity.

Author Biographies

Adriana Raquel Diaz, University of Queensland

Adriana Díaz is a lecturer in Spanish at the School of Languages and Cultures at The University of Queensland. Her main research activities focus on intercultural language pedagogy and the development of intercultural competence. She is particularly interested in the many variables affecting the implementation of intercultural language curricula and teaching methodologies as well as teachers’ journeys in the development of (critical) intercultural language learning pedagogies. 

Paul J. Moore, University of Queensland

Paul Moore is a lecturer in the postgraduate Applied Linguistics program in The School of Languages and Cultures. Paul’s main research interest involves the dynamic influence of learners, tasks and sociocultural context on task-based interaction, performance and development. Recent projects have included sociocognitive interpretations of language test performance, language policy in higher education, and the intersection between language and intercultural communication.