Publication Date

Spring 2021


In today’s world, there is a growing need to promote intercultural communicative competence (ICC) due to increasingly multilingual and multicultural societies. Moreover, more people today have contact across cultures than ever before in human history. For these reasons, ICC has become a national and international imperative and a necessary ability for all. In response, many higher education institutions seek to internationalize curricula; however, often without a coherent plan to provide intercultural education to all students. ICC is promoted primarily through study abroad programs; however, only a small percentage of students participate. Similarly, civic aid organizations in various countries promote ICC through international service programs; however, only a small percentage of their populations participate. This paper explores these activities in the United States -- with references to other countries -- and proposes a definition of ICC that includes host language ability as a fundamental component. It then considers the benefits of ICC based on data from two research projects conducted in eight countries. These studies identify attributes attained by participants in intercultural exchanges, and assess their impact on the lives of participants. The positive benefits of developing ICC are cited including their contributions toward promoting tolerance, understanding, and respect for an increasingly diverse world.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | International and Intercultural Communication