From Communicative Competence to Meta Cultural Competence: Towards an EIL Based Pedagogy
A keynote Speech by Prof. Farzad Sharifian (Monash Univerity)
The 1ST NATIONAL ENGLISH LANGUAGE CONFERENCE:
NEW DIRECTIONS IN ELT AND LITERATURE,
11-13 May 2016
Since Chomsky’s made the distinction between competence and performance, the notion of ‘competence’ has found a pivotal place in ELT.During late 1970s and early 1980s, Dell Hyme’s notion of ‘communicative competence’, a reaction to the narrowness of Chomsky’s‘competence’, gave rise to the paradigm shift in ELT known as ‘Communicative Language Teaching’. During the 1980 and 1990s several scholars put forward various proposals framed as components of communicative competence. These included ‘sociolinguistic competence’, ‘strategic competence’ (Canale and Swain, 1980), ‘discourse competence’ (Canale, 1984), ‘organizational competence’, and ‘pragmatic competence’ (Bachman, 1990). Michael Byram (e.g., 1997) was among the first to argue for a need for an intercultural dimension to the notion of competence, for as he pointed out L2 learning naturally involves exposure to and interaction with speakers from a different cultural background. The last two decades have witnessed an upsurge of models and definitions,such as ‘intercultural communicative competence’ (ICC), and simply ‘intercultural competence’ (e.g. Deardorff, 2009), for a culture-based notion of competence. Other proposals to which the notion of competence has been applied include ‘symbolic competence’ (Kramsch, 2011) and transcultural communicative competence’ (Ting-Toomey, 1999). In a recent article, Martin (2015, p. 6) argues that most models and theories of ICC remain limiting in that they narrowly focus on “the ABC (affect, behaviour, and cognition/knowledge) triumvirate”. This keynote critically reviews some models of intercultural competence, and discusses how the notion of meta-cultural competence(Sharifian, 2013) can provide an alternative that acknowledges the complexity that characterizes communication in English as an International Language in the 21st century. Metacultural competence enables interlocutors to communicate and negotiate their cultural conceptualizations explicitly. Unlike very broad and binary (source culture versus target culture) notions of culture, the concept of metacultural competence focuses on a dynamic and pluralistic view of cultural encounters and experiences (Sharifian, in press). This keynote elaborates on this theme and provides some examples of metacultural competence in action.
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Kramsch, C. (2011). The symbolic dimensions of the intercultural. Language Teaching, 44(3). 354-367
Martin, J. N. (2015). Revisiting intercultural communication competence: Where to go from here. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 48, 6-8.
Sharifian, F. (2013) Globalisation and developing meta-cultural competence in learning English as an International Language, Multilingual Education, 3(7). Available at http://www.multilingual-education.com/content/pdf/2191-5059-3-7.pdf.
Sharifian, F. (in press). Learning Intercultural Competence. In Jack C. Richards and Ann Burns (eds.) Cambridge Guide to Second Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ting-Toomey, S. (1999). Communicating across cultures. New York: The Guilford Press.