Intercultural Communication and Its Competence: Needs in a Changing World
The subject of this paper is intercultural communication competence. The focus is on contemporary societies that are changing with a fast pace. Both working life and domestic lives need as much attention as education. Educational policies in higher education are there to familiarize students with working life as well as to ease the transition from educational institutes to work places. What is making life more diverse is transnationalism and with it new ways of determining citizenship, multi-dimensional working life as well as multicultural education. The research aims at exploring the issue of transnationalism through intercultural communication competence. The interconnectedness between language, culture, communication and transnationalism are strong and will inevitably take different forms in social contexts such as work, home and studying. The proposed research aims at explaining transnationalism in such a way that it would offer tool for developing educational policies, societal integration and developing communication practises in the industrial sector. A preliminary study has already been conducted in order to find out which focus groups might serve as the bases for the actual research. The subject of the preliminary study was intercultural communication competence and the major focus was on university students from different fields of study. The qualitative and quantitative numerical results were compared with the results got from Finnish engineering students and American students to see whether there were any differences between students who have or have not studied communication, culture and /or languages and who have and do not have English as their native language. Secondly, the purpose of the preliminary study was to combine the separate but intersecting factors of communication, culture and language in the analysis. The results as well as the original questionnaires will be used in designing and conducting personal interviews in the second phases of the research. The results in the preliminary study were gathered by administrating a questionnaire called Intercultural Communication Competence Scale (ICCCS). It was formulated based upon the Communicative Adaptability Scale (CAS) and Communicative Adaptability Scale Self-Report (CAS-SR) compiled and tested by Duran et al in 1980 and 1992. As the present study is empirical and cumulative in nature the only new aspect added to the original CAS (-SR) questionnaire was the aspect of using foreign languages or meeting representatives of another culture, thus making the context of questions somewhat different from CAS (-SR). The questionnaires were administered in ten different universities to nearly 600 students between January 2004 – March 2005. Only two universities who were asked to take part in the study in Finland refused, and the return rate of questionnaires was over 70%. The results are, so far, very interesting and definitely worth discussing in an international atmosphere in this conference.
Keywords: Interconnectedness of Culture, Communication and Language, Intercultural, Competence
Lecturer of English, Kerava Institute, Laurea University of Applied Sciences