How to develop intercultural communicative competence - ICC in foreign language teaching and learning - From third place to symbolic competence and the multilingual subject (Kramsch, 2009)

4 important questions on How to develop intercultural communicative competence - ICC in foreign language teaching and learning - From third place to symbolic competence and the multilingual subject (Kramsch, 2009)

What is the concept of third place?

A spatial metaphor for eschewing the traditional dualities on which language education is based: first language vs. second language, native culture vs. target culture, native speaker vs. non-native speaker, us vs. them, self vs. other. Third place creates a symbolic space where the learner's own and the target culture interact.
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What are the pitfalls and challenges that come with the term?

  • the spatial metaphor suggests that the learner knows how to navigate several systems and their cultural and historical boundaries
  • the term has been romanticized as some hybrid cultures that exists along with other cultures
  • it does not acknowledge the symbolic power of language and symbolic nature of multilingual individuals
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What is symbolic competence?

An ability not only to approximate or appropriate for oneself someone else's language, but to shape the very context in which the language is learned and used through the learner's and other's embodied history and subjectivity. It complements communicative competence by creating a mindset that expands possibilities and opportunities for the hearer.
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What does symbolic competence include?

  • an ability to understand the symbolic value of symbolic forms and the different cultural memories evoked by different symbolic systems
  • an ability to draw on the semiotic diversity afforded by multiple languages to reframe ways of seeing familiar events, create alternative realities, and find an appropriate subject position between languages
  • an ability to look both at and through language and to understand the challenges to the autonomy and integrity of the subject that come from unitary ideologies and a totalising networked culture.
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