Communication, Metacommunication and Intercultural Effectiveness in Virtual Exchange

Lewis, Tim; Rienties, Bart and Rets, Irina (2023). Communication, Metacommunication and Intercultural Effectiveness in Virtual Exchange. In: Potolia, Anthippi and Derivry-Plard, Marine eds. Virtual Exchange for Intercultural Language Learning and Teaching. Routledge Research in Language Education. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 133–155.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003024620-7

Abstract

This chapter reports research carried out as part of the Erasmus+ Evaluate project (2017–2019) devoted to researching the impact of virtual exchange on participants' digital-pedagogical, intercultural and foreign language competences. The quantitative research study followed a pre-test post-test design with a control group. Qualitative data was collected by means of online diary entries and questionnaires.

In this chapter, the focus is on the concept of intercultural effectiveness, as operationalised in Evaluate. A modified version of the 20-item Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IE Scale) developed and validated by Portalla and Chen (2010) was used to measure the development of intercultural communicative communication skills by Evaluate participants, and it functions here as a means of scrutinising both the quantitative and the qualitative evidence of such development. Throughout the chapter, the expressions “intercultural effectiveness” and “intercultural communicative” competence are used interchangeably.

The IE Scale aims to capture behaviours, rather than knowledge or attitudes. Here, the (self-reported) activity of Evaluate participants rather than their introspective testimony, serves as data. However, a reconsideration of the scale is also urged, since the behaviours indexed in it are predominantly metacommunicative, rather than communicative. This in no way invalidates the scale, but arguably suggests that it has a wider field of application than hitherto supposed.

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