Intercultural competence of university teachers: a challenge of internationalization

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Abstract

The aim of the authors is to respond to the growing demands on the intercultural competence of university teachers due to intensified internationalization pressures on higher education, especially due to the growing number of students and teachers’ international exchanges. They report on an intercultural course design responding to this need, presenting a case study from Slovakia. First, they define the need of intercultural competence of university teachers, especially those teaching in English-medium study programmes. Then they share a) findings from a needs analysis preceding the design of a new curriculum for an intercultural competence course (ICC) at Matej Bel University (MBU) with three aims (development of linguistic, cultural and pedagogic competences); and b) results from action research during piloting the ICC course. A comparison of 2011 and 2018 surveys pointed to the growing dominance of the English language, including an increasing command of English by MBU teachers. The ICC curriculum, tailored to the pre-identified teachers’ needs, proved to be a feasible way of facilitating their intercultural competence. Its implementation revealed persistent prejudices and difficulties associated with overcoming them. It also confirmed a significant deficit in preparing university teachers for their role as intercultural mediators in English-medium courses.

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