What are the key models and approaches in intercultural learning and teaching?

What is the contact theory (Allport, 1954)?
It postulates that prejudice between members of different groups may be reduced through intergroup contact under four key conditions, i.e. equa status; common goals; intergroup cooperation; and institutional support.
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What is the experiential learning theory (Kolb, 1984)?
One of the most influential educational approaches in intercultural learning. It advocates that learning takes place best through direct participation in and direct encounter with the events of life.
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Which four stages feed into each other in a loop?
  1. concrete experienced
  2. observations and reflection
  3. forming abstract concepts and generalisations
  4. testing concepts and generalisations in new situations
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What is the transformative learning theory (Mezirow, 1996)?
It proposes that learning is a process of using a prior interpretation to contrue a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of one's experience in order to guide future action. It believes that learning is essentially a process of perspective transformation, i.e. the change in frames of reference, which takes place through reflection on experience and engagement with new experience.
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What is reflection (Boud et al., 1985)?
It is the key to turning experience into learning. It is both a self-organised learning activity and has to be done with intent and be goal-oriented. It is also the key to many pedagogical toolkits. It is essential to assessment tools.
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What are critical incidents?
Brief descriptions of significant events in interactions involving people from different cultures, in which there is a problem of misunderstanding, conflict, or an inappropriate or ineffective act.
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For which purposes can critical incidents be used?
  • written and generated by learners themselves as a learning tool
  • prepares by trainers and educators in the form of cultural assimilators as pedagogical tool for raising awareness and encouraging reflection. Cultural assimilators typically include a description of a scenario followed by a question
  • used by researchers in the form of a self-report as a data collection instrument; it captures incidents that are difficult to predict and observe
  • as an assessment tool to measure one's sensitivity to significant events
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What are reflective learning journals (Moon, 1999)?
They provide a tool to connect thoughts, feelings and action and to turn experience into explicit learning. They can be used to record critical incidents as part of intercultural training or research. They can facilitate language learning, particularly with regard to aspects of language learning and teaching experiences which are normally hidden or largely inaccessible to external observers.
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What is the learner as ethnographer (Geertz, 1973)?
The ethnography of speaking, as a discipline that brings language and cultural practices together, offers a set of toolkits and guidance to intercultural learners. It encourages the learner to actively participate in day-to-day practices as a field ethnographer who gathers and records data about practices through observations and participation. If offers the learner a holistic approach in observing an action in its context and analysing a practice in its entirety. Other benefits include a palpable sense of being with a group and the habit of thick comparison.
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