Have you ever had the feeling that something is missing in your language teaching classes? Perhaps something that goes beyond grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation? Or maybe something that transcends and permeates what is written in your regular English textbook? There is a chance that this “something” that you seek may be related to culture, and that you may be facing the conundrum of wanting to teach your students not only how to improve their mastery of a foreign language, but also how to successfully communicate across cultures while using said foreign language.
In order to address these types of concerns, the Intercultural Communication in Language Education (ICLE) SIG was founded at the June 2018 JALT EBM. We are a group of similar-minded instructors whose aim is to explore the various ways we could help develop our students’ intercultural minds, raise their cultural self-awareness, and educate them for intercultural understanding.
The ICLE SIG’s raison d’être is contextualized by an increasingly interconnected world. This encourages a change in the mindsets of educators and students alike in order to embrace the transformations a multicultural society brings with it. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) has been promoting and supporting programs at the elementary, secondary, and tertiary level for increasing intercultural awareness. For example, the Top Global University Project takes on the mission of developing “human resources with a global mindset, who are tolerant and accepting of different cultures […].” (https://tgu.mext.go.jp/en/about/jisshi.html) This forms the background for the need to establish our group.
The ICLE SIG’s mission revolves around constituting a platform where language teachers can come together, discuss, present on and publish issues related to the intercultural communication demands that our globalized world and MEXT impose in our practice. Specifically, our focus is to address (1) the various approaches for teaching intercultural communication in a language classroom, allowing educators to become better informed about intercultural education theory, as well as (2) the development of resources appropriate to a foreign language teaching environment, taking into consideration the practical challenges of bringing culture into the language classroom. In other words, the ICLE SIG’s mission is to bridge the gap between the theory and the praxis of intercultural communication in language learning.
We are JALT’s youngest SIG, growing by the month, and looking forward to continue to recruit resourceful and enthusiastic individuals from the JALT Community to become our members and officers. Meet us at the JALT 2018 International Conference, where we will have our first SIG Forum and our first SIG AGM. In addition, see below for the call for papers of our first co-sponsored conference, Intercultural Skills in the 21st Century Classroom, at The University in Tsukuba, December 8th, 2018.
The first issue of our newsletter, The ICLE Box (pronounced icicle box /aɪsɪklz bɒks/) should be out soon. Watch for it. The newsletter’s content will be presented in an innovative format on which theory (ice cubes) and praxis (popsicles) can be combined in a myriad of ways. The ice cubes are the building blocks for a theory or model describing a specific intercultural phenomenon and the popsicles are ready-at-hand classroom activities that epitomize that very phenomenon. Stay tuned for more information on how to receive these resources, so you can grab them in the heat of perspiring over what to do in your next intercultural class. More importantly, your own ice cubes and popsicles will be very welcome inside the ICLE Box, we’ve got plenty of refrigerating space to share!
University of Tsukuba CEGLOC FD committee in collaboration with the JALT Intercultural Communication in Language Education SIG will hold The 2nd CEGLOC Conference on Intercultural Skills in the 21st Century Classroom – Tsukuba, 8 December 2018