The Department of Translation, Terminology & Interpreting Studies is organising a series of seminars by Dr Piotr Romanowski from the Warsaw University.
Dr Piotr Romanowski will deliver his first seminar entitled 'From linguistic competence to intercultural communicative competence – a historical perspective' on Wednesday 24 February at 14:00 in Room 255, M.A. Vassalli Conference Centre - Gateway Building (GW255).
The other two seminars entitled 'Intercultural approach in foreign language teaching' and 'Typologies of language learning strategies' will be held on Thursday 25 February at 11:00 in Room 101 Dar Ġużeppi Zahra (GDZ 101).
From linguistic competence to intercultural communicative competence – a historical perspective
The concept of competence has evolved in time and incorporated new areas of language communication. It was initially coined by Noam Chomsky (1965) who intended to show the relationship between the linguistic knowledge of fluent speakers of a language and their actual production and comprehension of speech. Needless to say the idea itself is the result of reframing Ferdinand de Saussure’s (1922) crucial linguistic distinction between langue and parole. In the 1970s, many proponents (including Dell Hymes) of the communicative approach to language started a search for an alternative and more practical concept. The sociolinguists stressed the need to consider an essential socio-cultural dimension of language use. It was not long, however, until a new framework of communicative competence was designed by Spitzberg (1984). It comprised three specific dimensions of motivation, knowledge and skills. Ultimately, intercultural communicative competence has been the focus of a number of studies since 1980s when the term became of interest for studies with such diverse conceptual themes as immigrant acculturation, culture shock, intercultural training and international management. Nowadays it is defined as knowledge, motivation, and skills which are necessary to interact effectively and appropriately with members of different cultures. This seminar will present a brief historical overview and then focus on the modern development of intercultural communicative competence.
Intercultural approach in foreign language teaching
The aim of this seminar is to familiarize the students with the new approach to language teaching resulting from the constructive paradigm, namely the intercultural approach. Critical understanding of otherness seems to be the key aspect in this theory, because learners need to understand their own culture first in order to comprehend a multitude of unfamiliar cultures and backgrounds they are exposed to in the process of learning. While participating in foreign language instruction they will develop cultural awareness and ultimately become ethnographers and/or cultural mediators who are able to transcend all the boundaries. The ethnographic approach will be discussed and the definition of experiential learning will follow as well as more up-to-date theories of constructivism and the advent of comparative approach – all constituting the integral elements of intercultural approach in foreign language learning.
Typologies of language learning strategies
Throughout the history of SLA (Second Language Acquisition) studies various typologies of language strategies have been put forward by linguists. Research into strategies dates back to 1970s when Rubin (1975) tried to provide the first definition of the concept. They are understood as devices, methods, approaches, or operations employed by learners to acquire linguistic knowledge. Not much later other scholars (Naiman 1978; Brown 1980, Tarone 1983; Chaudron 1988; O’Malley 1989) proposed their own concepts and further taxonomies appeared. A distinction was made into learning strategies, communication strategies and production strategies. Students must be aware of the fact that strategies play a significant role in language learning and acquiring them can make a substantial difference in learner achievement. Hence the aim of teachers should be to instruct their learners how to develop proper strategies so as to accelerate the rate of language acquisition.