Successful foreign language learners need to have intercultural communicative competence that goes beyond linguistic knowledge. This paper looks at how Project Based Learning used as a method to develop intercultural communicative competence (ICC) among students. Competence in intercultural communication requires an understanding of both the L1 and L2 cultures. Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach that utilizes student-directed inquiry processes to develop a product that has real-life connections and applications. PBL is used in this paper to show to what extent the implementation of the Project-Based Learning Method helps to develop students’ language skills and intercultural communicative competence. Finally, survey results on learners’ understanding of the importance of the project studies and strategies to promote the task for learners with the help of ICC will follow. In the end there are some limitations and suggestions for the future research.
Keywords: PBL, ICC, project studies, cultural awereness, communicative competence, L1 and L2 cultures, instructional approach, real-life connections, strategies, methods
Обучащиеся иностранным языкам должны обладать межкультурной коммуникативной компетентностью, которая выходит за рамки лингвистических знаний. В этой статье рассматривается, как проектное обучение используется в качестве метода развития межкультурной коммуникативной компетентности (ICC). Компетентность в межкультурной коммуникации требует понимания как культур L1, так и культур L2. Обучение на основе проектов (PBL) — ориентирована на учеников и включает в себя работу с проблемами реального мира и практикой. Проектное обучение (ПО) используется в этой статье, чтобы показать, в какой мере внедрение методики обучения на основе проекта помогает развивать языковые навыки учащихся и межкультурную коммуникативную компетентность. В конце последуют результаты опроса по пониманию учащимися важности проектных исследований и стратегий для продвижения задачи для учащихся с помощью МКК. В конце есть некоторые ограничения и предложения для будущих исследований.
Ключевые слова: проектное обучение (ПО), исследования проектов, культурная устойчивость, межкультурная коммуникативная компетентность, культурная осведомленность, культуры L1 и L2, учебный подход, стратегии, методы, анализ
In the past years, the forces of globalization have enhanced and accelerated cultural communications throughout the world. Modern transportation, economic development, immigration, political interactions, internet technologies have eased the ways of developing and acquiring intercultural communicative competence in many educational institutions around the world. It is especially important for universities that have international programs for collaborating and communicating with other cultures and countries by sending students to an exchange or internship programs. Other ways to develop intercultural competence include learners researching aspects of a target culture in various media including cinema, literature and television, organizing different simulation projects and tasks related to culture, giving presentations on aspects of the target culture, and exploiting the teacher's own expertise of their own culture.
Many researches have been done to determine the method and approach in order to develop intercultural communicative competence (ICC). In the last two or three decades there has been a change of focus in education as competence development gains ground. Many innovative teaching techniques and work forms are now increasingly widespread with the aim of facilitating the learning process in education. Project Based Learning has become very popular in the teaching of many subjects in schools. It involves topic- or theme‑based tasks suitable for various levels and ages, in which all participants negotiate goals and content, and learners create their own learning materials that they present and evaluate together. Naturally, with such new work forms and new approaches to the learning process, teachers and learners’ roles have also changed .
Despite the fact that there are many works on PBL, almost all of them focused on general improvement of students’ knowledge. However, this research will be focused on development of ICC, rather than just four skills itself. Another important difference is that almost all research papers were devoted to other countries and schools. However, this research will be focused on Kazakhstani university students.
Research questions: To complete this, the following research question will be answered:
How does Project Based Learning help to develop intercultural communicative competence?
Project Based Learning
Project-based learning is a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which, it is believed that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. Students learn about a subject by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to a complex question, challenge, or problem. It is a style of active learning and inquiry-based learning. PBL contrasts with paper-based, rote memorization, or teacher-led instruction that presents established facts by instead posing questions, problems or scenarios. Thomas Markham describes project-based learning (PBL) thus: «PBL integrates knowing and doing. Students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter .
Project Approach is an instructional model, which includes a problem and finishes with an authentic product. The role of the student is defined as an active problem solver. In addition, the student may become a researcher and participate in making decisions.
How to develop intercultural competence through education
Intercultural education refers to pedagogy — aims, content, learning processes, teaching methods, syllabus and materials, and assessment — of which one purpose is to develop intercultural competence in learners of all ages in all types of education as a foundation for dialogue and living together. Intercultural competence can be developed in different ways through different types of education.
Teachers in formal education, whatever the age of their learners and whatever the subject they teach, have a general responsibility for implementing intercultural education. In formal education, implementation means the teaching of planned lessons, lectures, workshops, etc. In many countries, this is controlled through the official curriculum and systems of inspection of educational institutions by external bodies such as a national inspectorate or a professional body responsible for certification and public recognition of schools, higher education institutions and similar establishments. Furthermore, in some contexts existing textbooks and teaching materials wield substantial influence on choosing and planning learning activities.
When pedagogical approaches, methods and techniques that encourage learners to become actively involved in experience, discovery, challenge, analysis, comparison, reflection and co‑operation are implemented, learning activities tend to be very effective as they engage learners as whole persons and address their intellectual, emotional and physical potential. One such specific approach to learning and teaching that has proved to promote the development of intercultural competence regardless of the subject matter is cooperative learning. Cooperative learning refers to the way the learning process is organized and it does not only mean that learners often collaborate in groups in non‑formal or formal classroom settings. Cooperative learning is a specific kind of collaborative learning in which students or participants do not simply work on unstructured tasks in pairs or small groups but work together on activities that have specific cooperative principles built into the very structure of the tasks.
Project-based learning can also be similar to the «situated learning» and with the constructivist theories of Jean Piaget. It is a comprehensive perspective focused on teaching by engaging students in investigation. Within this framework, students pursue solutions to nontrivial problems by asking and refining questions, debating ideas, making predictions, designing plans and/or experiments, collecting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, communicating their ideas and findings to others, asking new questions, and creating artifacts». The basis of PBL lies in the authenticity or real-life application of the research. Students working as a team are given a «driving question» to respond to or answer, then directed to create an artifact (or artifacts) to present their gained knowledge. Artifacts may include a variety of media such as writings, art, drawings, three-dimensional representations, videos, photography, or technology-based presentations.
Involving PBL to the class
Students take responsibility for their learning and develop solutions for complex problems when their homework becomes a PBL unit. Mostly students in my university are expected to do a research paper or product. In the past, most of the teachers usually gave them home tasks related to the traditional paper, mostly because doing so was comfortable for them as an English teacher. We can do papers. We can do essays. We can provide feedback and teach revision. However, this year I see that teachers took a risk—instead of the traditional paper, they told to their students that they would be doing a project task. They seemed excited, mostly because they thought they wouldn’t have to write a paper. In the end, they did so much more than that.
Before giving them project topics and tasks, I have analyzed a student book of B1 level learners, I found out very interesting topics which can be discussed together with students in the class. The book units contained such topics as: family, stereotypes, food, superstitions and others. I said students to form groups and then gave each group the task of choosing an issue they were interested in. The main aim of the project was to come up with a new idea and solution of a problem. As a class we brainstormed all kinds of big issues related to our society such as stereotypes, poverty, LGBT rights, bullying, and superstitions. Next they had to brainstorm possible resources and questions they needed to answer. Since I couldn’t help them with their every need, they had to take responsibility for their own learning, and solve problems as they understand them. This is the good side of projects tasks (PBL). At the end I gave my students options for their final products. All of them had to contain their survey results, research, emails and interviews in one form or another. They came up with ideas like a public service announcement, a formal proposal, a bill, a documentary, a photo essay, or a piece of music or art. I created rubrics and assessment criteria so students would know what I was expecting from their project tasks. I didn’t want to be too controlling, but I wanted from them high-quality products with conscious understanding and seriousness of the project work. They shared their final products with a variety of authentic audiences, including other teams and teachers. I gave each group one summative grade, but also I planned to split the grade: 70 percent of each student’s grade will be for their group’s work, and 30 percent will be an individual grade based on my observations, students’ self-reflections, and peer reflections. As students shared their projects and we reflected on the process together, a few things became clear to me. First, I’ll never teach the research paper any other way because the PBL model we used helped develop real-world problem solvers, thinkers, and doers instead of rule followers. I learned that to develop students’ intercultural communicative competence they need to step out of their comfort zones and deeply in to the atmosphere full of knowledge and practice.
Project Based Learning contributes promotes individual and social values to improve the coexistence. When English learning is based on solving a problem the learning and teaching English process becomes more motivating. It is because the students feel seriously engaged in solving the problem. They enjoy the activity and all of them cooperatively work.
The results will be analyzed and measured through qualitative data, which includes observation and semi-structured interview. This type of interview allows the interviewer to include questions emerged from the interviewee´s answers. Ododa states how this instrument can be focused on attitudinal questions . It implies that opinions and values of the respondents can be perceived through their answers.
- Thomas Markham (2011) Ethnography and Qualitative Design in Educational Research. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
- (Josef, H., & Christopher, R., 2003), The Current Practices of Teaching Grammar in CLT at Secondary School Level in Bangladesh: Problems and Probable Solutions. In Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 3, No 8, (1328–1334)
- Ododa, H. (2009). Posted on March 2010 Political science.