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Intercultural Competence Assessment in the IB Diploma. AFMLTA 2013 Carmen de Miguel c Outline. Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning Assessment of the intercultural

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intercultural competence assessment in the ib diploma

Intercultural Competence Assessment in the IB Diploma


Carmen de Miguel

  • Intercultural LanguageTeaching and Learning
  • Assessment of the intercultural
  • TheContext: The International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Diploma Programme
  • New Languagecurriculum
  • Languages ab initio: Theassessment of the Intercultural understanding
  • Research Plan
intercultural language teaching and learning
Intercultural LanguageTeaching and Learning
  • The need to incorporate intercultural perspectives into languages courses appears early in the literature (Zarate 1986, Kramsch 1993, Byram 1997) although the understandings of the intercultural and its relationship with the languages often differ.
  • Nowadays, in an increasingly globalised world, there is a fresh impetus in the literature and a renewed interest in intercultural language teaching and learning (Derwin & Liddicoat 2013, Liddicoat & Scarino 2013)
  • Reviews on this issue (Dervin 2010,Liddicoat & Scarino2013, Sercu 2010)
relationship between language and culture


Relationshipbetweenlanguage and culture

Intercultural Competence

Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning








assessment of the intercultural

Proceduresand instruments

Assessmentof theintercultural
  • Assessment tools instruments and inventaries:

Fantini & Tirmizi (2006) compile up to 85 different assessment tools of intercultural competence.

Most inventories and questionnaires are used as self assessment or in the professional domain for intercultural training. They focus in single aspects.

  • Long term dynamic assessment: observations, portfolios, journal, diaries, logs, blogs. This procedures invite students to analyse, explain and elaborate including de-centring and a meta- awareness of the meaning-making process in intercultural interactions. (Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013)
assessment of the intercultural1

The “savoirs” model (Byram 1997)

Assessmentof theintercultural
  • This model has been expanded with a new dimension:

Meta-cognitive (planning, monitoring and reflecting on learning


the challenge
The Challenge
  • My experience: 30 years of language teaching two languages (English & Spanish) in two countries (Spain & Australia)
  • IB experience: 12 years teaching Spanish ab initio. Workshop leader & forum faculty member
  • Investigative stance: (Crichton 2009)
  • Decision: start a PhD to investigate the assessment of intercultural in IB language programmes.


The IB provides a distinctive context for exploring intercultural assessment because:

  • Its international dimension: more than a million students across 144 countries.
  • It involves many languages and cultures and innumerable international schools.
  • It incorporates international and intercultural perspectives in its mission and aims
  • There is a language policy that requires that all students learn at least two languages
  • Development of intercultural understanding explicitly included as an objective in language courses and their assessment
  • Personal involvement in IB teaching, assessing and teacher training gives me insights and experiences
ib mission statement
  • The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
  • To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
  • These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

IB learnerswestriveto be:

  • inquirers
  • knowledgeable
  • thinkers
  • communicators
  • principled
  • open-minded
  • caring
  • risk-takers
  • balanced
  • reflective
aims of group 2 additional languages
  • develop students’ intercultural understanding
  • enable students to understand and use the language they have studied in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes
  • encourage, through the study of texts and through social interaction, an awareness and appreciation of the different perspectives of people from other cultures
  • develop students’ awareness of the role of language in relation to other areas of knowledge
  • develop students’ awareness of the relationship between the languages and cultures with which they are familiar
  • provide students with a basis for further study, work and leisure through the use of an additional language
  • provide the opportunity for enjoyment, creativity and intellectual stimulation through knowledge of an additional language
language ab initio assessment
Language ab initio Assessment
  • RECEPTIVE SKILLS: Understanding of authentic print texts
  • PRODUCTIVE SKILLS: Two writing tasks

Summative assessment:


  • PRESENTATION and follow-up questions based on a visual stimulus
  • CONVERSATION based in general topics and written assignment


the written assignment wa
The Written Assignment (WA)
  • The WA is the culmination of independent research carried out on one of the topics of the course.
  • The aim of the WA isto describe the chosen topic before identifying differences and/or similarities between their own culture(s) and the target culture(s).Students reflect on these differences and/or similarities by responding to a set of guiding questions.
  • The research process is student driven and guided by teachers.
  • Sources may be generated by the student or the teacher or a combination of both, and can be in any language. Sources from the classroom may be included as part of the research process, as can externally generated sources.

The Written Assignment (WA)

The WA should have three sections:

  • DESCRIPTION: A description of the chosen topic
  • COMPARISON: A comparison of the differences and/or similarities between the chosen topic in the target culture(s) and the student’s culture(s)
  • REFLECTION: A reflection related to the chosen topic including answers to all of the following questions:
  • Which aspect of your chosen topic surprised you?
  • Why do you think these cultural similarities/differences exist?
  • What might a person from the target culture(s) find different about your chosen topic in your culture(s)
the wa assessment objectives
The WA: Assessment objectives
  • Research topic chosen not clearly cultural related
  • Topic too general to allow in depth analysis
  • Topics related mostly to cultural facts and products rather
  • than cultural social practices
  • Sources used for research not very reliable and often giving a filtered view of culture.
  • Generalisations and stereotypes
  • Simplistic / trivial explanations for the similarities/differences
  • Difficulties in de-centring when answering the third question
the wa assessment objectives1
The WA: Assessment objectives
  • Weaker students not having enough target language resources to express themselves clearly
  • Inappropriate use of research reporting language (citing, quoting, referencing)
the wa assessment objectives2
The WA: Assessment objectives
  • Choice of target language sources too difficult for their language level
  • Inappropriate vocabulary use interferes with meaning-making
the wa assessment objectives3
The WA: Assessment objectives
  • Difficulty in moving from a researcher register in the first two sections of the assignment to a personal reflection in the third part (use of first person)
research plan
Research Plan
  • Assessing intercultural understanding
    • Why is it important?
    • What to assess?
    • How to assess it?
  • Analyse the Spanish ab initio WA scripts to answer the following questions:
  • To what extent the WA informs about the intercultural understandings of the Spanish ab initio students?
  • What type of intercultural understandings are elicited?
  • What cultural topics are favoured by the students?
  • What are the main problems and misconceptions found?
  • What are the factors affecting the possible differences found in the sample?
  • How do the WA reflect the students’ (and teachers’) views on the intercultural?
  • How do the WA reflect the IB conceptualisation on intercultural understanding and assessment?
  • Byram, M 1997, Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence, Multilingual Matters, Philadelphia.
  • Crichton, J 2008, Why an Investigative Stance Matters in Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning: An Orientation to Classroom-Based Investigation BABEL v43 n1 p31-33, 39 Nov 2008
  • Dervin, F. (2010). Assessing intercultural competence in Language Learning and Teaching: a critical review of current efforts. New approaches to assessment in higher education. Bern: Peter Lang.
  • Fantini, A., & Tirmizi, A. (2006). Exploring and assessing intercultural competence.
  • Kramsch, CJ 1993, Context and culture in language teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Lewis, RD 2005, When cultures collide: leading across cultures : a major new edition of the global guide, Nicholas Brealey International,
  • Scarino, A & Liddicoat, A 2009, Teaching and learning languages: a guide, Curriculum Corporation
  • Sercu, L 2004, Assessing Intercultural Competence: A Framework for Systematic Test Development in Foreign Language Education and Beyond. Intercultural Education, 15:1, 73-89.
  • Sercu, L 2010, Assesing Intercultural Competence: More Questions than Answers. In: Paran, A & Sercu, L 2010, Testing the untestable in language education, Multilingual Matters, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Zarate, G. (1986). Enseignerune culture étrangère. Paris, Hachette
  • Pembroke School and Luke Thomson (Principal)
  • Angela Scarino & Tony Liddicoat (Supervisors)
  • MLTASA (sponsorship)

“If you talk to someone in a language he or she understands, that goes to the person's head.

If you talk to somebody in his or her language, that goes to the heart.”

Nelson Mandela