Nanzan University, Japan
Globalisation and advancements in communication technologies have brought a dramatic increase in the frequency and complexity of intercultural interactions. In addition to linguistic skills, foreign language (FL) learners today need the ability to deal with cultural differences. This has implications for language learners and teachers. In recent years, the Japanese government have implemented several nationwide “global” projects aimed at reforming the higher education system, and at cultivating in learners the skills necessary to become effective global communicators. While intercultural communicative competence (ICC) has been widely researched and discussed over the past thirty years, global communicative competence (GCC) remains relatively unexplored in FL learning circles. To establish effective pedagogies for GCC in FL classrooms, it is important to characterize its component skills, knowledge or attitudes, and to consider student needs. The researcher undertook a preliminary qualitative study that used a survey instrument to investigate Japanese FL learner (n=23) ideas and needs related to GCC. Participant responses were coded according to Byram’s 1997 model for ICC. Findings showed that participants believed attitudinal factors to be of primary importance in the development of GCC. In addition, many learners identified challenges for ICC development that lay outside the scope of Byram’s ICC model. These included issues of language anxiety, low self-confidence and a focus on linguistic accuracy at the expense of communicating meaning. In this paper, the researcher discusses student responses, their correlation with Byram’s model for ICC, and pedagogical implications for foreign language educators in Japan.
Global communication competence, intercultural communication competence, EFL in Japan, learner needs, language anxiety