Call for Papers: 2nd Conference on Intercultural Competence and Foreign Language Learning in Higher Education: Present and Future

Conference Date: 3 July 2020
Location: Department of Modern Languages and Cultures and Language Centre, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter


Intercultural competence (IC) can be defined very broadly as a wide range of cognitive, affective, and behavioural skills that lead to effective and appropriate communication and interaction with people of other cultures. Following the success of the 2019 Intercultural Competence Conference at the University of Cambridge under the AULC Special Interest Group on interculturality, the University of Exeter is hosting a one-day symposium to bring together researchers, professionals and practitioners working in the area of intercultural competence in the teaching and learning of foreign languages in Higher Education.

According to Byram et al. (2001: 5) intercultural competence is the ‘ability to interact with ‘others’, to accept other perspectives and perceptions of the world, to mediate between different perspectives, to be conscious of difference’. While intercultural competence is essential in our increasingly global and connected world, language learners are in an ideal position to engage with cultural diversity since they experience and reflect on how, through language, communities engage in different social practices grounded in their own values and beliefs and make sense of and construct the world they live in. Languaging (Phipps and Gonzalez, 2004) is a social process inextricably interwoven with the mechanisms to make sense, through language use, of ‘the supercomplex variety of human experience’ (Bennett, 2000). This process also allows the foreign language learner to better understand their own culture and identity. Although the centrality of the development of intercultural competence in language learning makes Modern Language programmes and Language Centres pivotal sites of intercultural expertise there is now a need to articulate more clearly and explicitly its richness and value, the contribution it can make to the Internationalisation and Global Citizenship agenda in HE, and its future direction.

The themes of this conference are intentionally broad so as to encourage the sharing of expertise and ideas. We welcome presentations of both research-based papers and practical case studies in the following areas:  

  • Innovative approaches to the teaching of intercultural competence in language teaching, including the Year Abroad, with specific focus on syllabus design, developing resources, marking criteria and testing, as well as extra-curricular activities; 
  • Intercultural competence and the decolonisation of the language syllabus;
  • Key roles of Modern Languages Departments and Foreign Language Centres in the Internationalisation and Global Citizenship agenda in HE;
  • Intercultural competence training of language teachers within a non-essentialist  approach to culture.
  • Intercultural competence training outside the classroom, to staff across the University, and to the private/public sector.

The conference is hosted by the University of Exeter. It is organised by a cross-universities team (University of Exeter, Durham University, University of Cambridge) and supported by UCML (University Council of Modern Languages) and AULC (Association of University Language Communities in the UK and Ireland).

Abstracts are invited for a 20-minute presentation/workshop, followed by a 10-minute discussion. The abstract with title should be sent in a single-spaced word document of up to 300 words as an email attachment to:

The email should include the name, contact details and institutional affiliation of the presenter(s).

For further information on the conference, please contact Professor Sonia Cunico, Director of Language Teaching:

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