SPICES Transnational Meeting on Campus At the end of April 2006, the University of Malta will be hosting the second Transnational Meeting of SPICES (Social Promotion of Intercultural Communication Expertise and Skills), a Socrates/Grundtvig project training course.

Today there is an awareness that, in many fields of knowledge, theoretical knowledge is no longer sufficient to be successful in the labour market. Stress is being put on the practical skills related to theoretical knowledge - the capacity to apply learning. This is especially evident for the field of communication. Knowing everything about existing communication theories is not a guarantee of being a good communicator. The equation gets ever more complicated when the communication goes on between individuals with different cultural backgrounds, values, beliefs, behavioural mores.

A training course such as SPICES aims at complete intercultural communication competence and focuses on both expertise and skills. While the theoretical expertise is relatively easy to acquire, the intercultural communication skills require personal experience and tough training.

Intercultural or international communication training is not new. Multinational companies have long understood the importance of such training for their managers and staff. What makes the SPICES training course special is its focus on the social promotion aspect rather than any specific economic purpose. Its overall aim is to make such skills as widespread as possible and to offer competence in a very concrete and practical way. This will be achieved through the training of intercultural communication facilitators, mediators and educators as well as L2 language teachers. These direct beneficiaries will then become a vehicle for the training of indirect adult beneficiaries who need such intercultural communication competence most.

The project deals with communicative difficulties that foreigners face when they settle for varying periods of time in a country where they encounter linguistic problems. These include so-called ‘adults in mobility’ (e.g. Erasmus students, immigrants, foreign workers etc) who need to apply for official documentation, fill in forms and interact with native speakers in order to settle down. By means of data collection it will be possible to obtain a picture of the problems they face, as well as the problems that locals (e.g. doctors, policemen, people in bureaucratic institutions etc.) encounter when they deal with people who have difficulty in communicating.

Partners in this project include the Università degli Studi di Perugia, Italy; Universität Würzburg, Germany; Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Key & Key Communications, Italy; the Univerza v Ljubljani, Slovenia; ACEK – Association for Specialist Communication, Bulgaria as well as the University of Malta. Anyone interested in knowing more about the project or about the meeting can contact Dr Sandro Caruana (sandro.caruana@um.edu.mt) as well as visit the project’s website: http://www.trainingspices.net