Training in Intercultural Competence from ELC (European language Competence)

Adopting a concept of intercultural training in which practical communication plays the central role means “focussing less on broad constructs like ‘culture’ and more on the everyday concrete actions through which culture is produced”.1 At the heart of such training is the interculturally appropriate use of language, in our case of English as a lingua franca, as it is this which is the language number one of intercultural communication. The language-based training approach which we suggest proves particularly helpful when looking at issues which have rarely been addressed in intercultural training concepts so far: GENDER, POWER and HIERARCHY.

Gender is certainly a sensitive issue under almost all circumstances. In intercultural encounters, however, gender-based identities, roles and relationships may be seen as predetermined breaking points, as it is here that irreconcilable differences and misunderstandings may occur. The issues involved have, nevertheless, been disregarded in most intercultural training concepts so far. Power and Hierarchy, on the other hand, have – if at all – been discussed in relation to predetermined typologies of corporate culture as suggested by Hofstede, Trompenaars/Hampden-Turner, Schwarz, GLOBE, Denison, Deal/Kennedy, Cameron/Quinn and others. In contrast to these Edgar Schein, professor of organisational psychology and renowned mentor of corporate culture analysis, emphasises the importance of practical communication skills. “Certain truths are so clear that we have forgotten them and we don’t really pay close enough attention to them. You cannot in any kind of high hazard world be safe without good communication.” 2 This is precisely what our approach focusses on: what you do and what you say in potentially difficult situations is what counts and it is this that needs to be trained.
1 Scollon, R., Scollon, S.W., Jones, R.H. (2012). Intercultural Communciation. A Discourse Approach. 3rd ed. p.18
2 Bertelsmann-Stiftung The New Leadership: Culture Management and Helping 14-15 October 2011. see also: Schein, E.H. (2013). Humble Inquiry. The Gentle Art of Asking instead of Telling.

“It is widely believed that globalization implies cultural homogenization, and that Western-style business is becoming the worldwide standard along with the English language. This judgment is at best premature, however. The world economic order is moving away from Western hegemony toward a multi-polar equilibrium, with such power centres as China, India, South Korea, and Brazil operating alongside North America and Europe. One might therefore expect a renewed tendency toward cultural pluralism, a process that one might call cultural de-globalization.“

John Hooker (2012). Cultural Differences in Business Communication. In: C.B.Paulston, S.F. Kiesling, E.S.Rangel (eds.) (2012). The Handbook on Intercultural Discourse and Communication. p. 405
Clearly, therefore, it is language-based intercultural competence which learners need for communicating effectively in a globalised world where English has become the lingua franca number one. This is what the train-the-trainer course CRITICAL ISSUES addresses. This follow-up course is meant primarily – but not exclusively – for experienced business English trainers who have taken part in the ICE-INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE IN ENGLISH train-the-trainer course. However, anyone who is familiar with basics of intercultural theory and has some intercultural training practice may of course also take part.
The next CRITICAL ISSUES train-the-trainer course is in
BERLIN, Sat 24 / Sun 25 January 2015.
Participants will receive a complete set of training materials for use in their training and teaching courses. Click here for more information and a registration form or go to our website for an overview of the ICE curriculum and a selection of free sample worksheets.

See their website for more details.