Facilitating intercultural competence development with intercultural language teaching approach in a business English speaking class: An action research project

Yuting MU

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Developing intercultural competence plays an essential part in language learning. This resonates with Halliday’s (1978) apt observation that culture provides meaning to language-in-use. Intercultural competence is a complex concept, including dimensions such as attitudes, knowledge, skills, and awareness (Byram, 2009). Cultivating students’ intercultural competence has become one of the objectives of language teaching, and a range of courses has been designed and conducted for preparing students to take an active part in the global world. As more college students are willing to work in multinational corporations or study abroad, language teachers play an important role in providing students with more opportunities to enhance their intercultural knowledge and skills.

Based on Byram’s (1997) intercultural competence model and guided by the intercultural language teaching approach proposed by Liddicoat (2003; 2013), the researcher developed a course that seeks to cultivate students’ intercultural competence in four dimensions, attitudes, knowledge, skills, and awareness. One class of second-year English major students took part in the 12-week course with another class as the control group. During the course, students experienced a process which involved noticing, comparing, and reflecting through various intercultural activities. This study employed a range of methods including questionnaire, interview, and reflective journals, and it was found that students’ intercultural competence was improved, and the course showed significantly positive influence on the cultivation of students’ attitudes, facilitation of cultural knowledge acquisition, and the development of intercultural skills and awareness. Further analysis led to identification and detailed discussion of a range of aspects of the four dimensions of intercultural competence such as willingness to explore otherness and enriched knowledge of value systems and various intercultural skills.

The study has shown an example on how to apply intercultural language teaching approach as an intervention in class, which is expected to shed lights on guidance on the provision of opportunities for students to notice cultural differences, compare and analyze intercultural issues, and implement knowledge and skills for intercultural interactions. Suggestions for future language teaching practice and curriculum development are also provided. This study extends the literature of culture teaching in language education both pedagogically and theoretically, and provides important educational insights for resources designers, language teachers, and learners. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • YU, Baohua, Supervisor
  • WONG, Ming Har, Ruth 黃明霞, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Language education
  • Intercultural competence
  • Classroom teaching
  • Intercultural language teaching
  • Vocational education
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2021.


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