Linking continents and bridging cultures – embedding intercultural competencies into the UCA pre-sessional EAP
Intercultural competencies are rather rare species in the field of EAP. However, within the context of creative arts, it has been observed that the ability to communicate effectively with people from other cultures is integral to building up students’ confidence, and if at the core of the curriculum, it may trigger students’ readiness for the upcoming academic experience. The paper will explore the various ways of integrating the development of intercultural competencies into the Pre-sessional EAP curriculum based on a case study of the ‘Art Activism’ project on the UCA Pre-sessional English for Art and Design course.
The ‘Art Activism’ project has been successfully running for four years. The project’s rationale, teaching and learning methods as well as assessment are based on the Intercultural Competence Model by Deardorff (2009). The theoretical framework when applied into the project, enables students to explore their interest in creative arts and empowers them to develop targeted knowledge, skills and attitudes that lead to visible behaviour and communication that are both effective and appropriate in intercultural interactions. The project invites students to thrive on intercultural competencies to become inquisitive, reflective and critical observers of the relationship between the individual and their social, political and economic contexts through cultural self-awareness, culture specific knowledge, sociolinguistic awareness, grasp of global issues and trends, listening, observing, evaluating, analysing, interpreting, relating critical thinking, respect, openness, curiosity and discovery.
At the beginning of the project, students are invited to work in multicultural groups in order to examine and address the concept of dialogue through creative arts as a method of communication to confront issues they care about. Based on visits, lectures, workshops and seminars during which the work of international artists and designers is being carefully analysed, and through collaboration with local artists, the students not only learn how to carry out academic research effectively, but also write empowering proposals. Then, the proposals are further transformed into inspiring and imaginative performances, presentations and installations, in which students clearly demonstrate a variety of intercultural competencies. Meaningful assessment methods are being used to evaluate the development of intercultural competencies throughout and at the end of the project to aid students’ learning and intercultural journey.
The presentation will shed light onto several exciting project’s interpretations and practical solutions in regards to embedding intercultural competencies into EAP curriculum and will be further supported by data from the post-course surveys as well as students’ evaluations captured in their publications and an extended testimonial from a former Pre-sessional EAP and a current UCA PhD student from Myanmar, Teza Soe.