Intercultural Competence and the Classroom Context

Following the success of a course organised for the first time in 2005, the Department of Primary Education within the Faculty of Education at University is organising another 15-hour course introducing concepts related to intercultural competence and communication. The course is aimed at kindergarten assistants and teachers currently working with three to eight-year-old children. First priority will be given to applicants working with this age group.

Within Europe and around the world, societies and individuals are increasingly meeting and living with people coming from diverse backgrounds, countries, cultures and identities. Naturally, adapting and adjusting to different lifestyles and cultures does not come without effort, irrespective of whether we are welcoming communities and cultures into our society or whether we are trying to insert ourselves in a new community or culture. Undoubtedly, improving our understanding of what other cultures and communities are about facilitates the process of adjustment.

Across Europe, teachers are increasingly facing the reality of working with children from diverse backgrounds. For example, in certain parts of Sweden, 33% of the population is made up of immigrants who are now fully recognised as forming part of the Swedish society. In the local context, we are still far from such proportions but irrespective of whether there are a few or many individuals who are coming from other countries to settle in Malta, teachers, amongst others, need to be informed about ways in which young children from different nationalities and backgrounds, who do not necessarily share our official languages, can be welcomed to the school and classroom context.

The aims of the course are for participants to understand the concept of intercultural competence, reflect about their own culture (behaviour, attitudes); develop their intercultural competence and participate/learn about suitable activities for the development of intercultural competence with young learners.

The course will be held on Fridays and will start on the 21st of April 2006. There will be five, three-hour sessions in all. Sessions will be held between 16.00 until 19.00. Attendance is free but registration is compulsory. A certificate of attendance will be given to all participants. Further information and registration forms are available from Dr Valerie Sollars, course co-ordinator who can be contacted at valerie.sollars@um.edu.mt.