A case study exploring the intercultural sensitivity levels of native English and native Turkish language instructors teaching at universities in Turkey and the U.S.A. respectively
Sinclair, Seher Türkyılmaz
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This case-study explores Intercultural Sensitivity (IS) levels of three American English language teachers in Turkey and three Turkish instructors of Turkish in the USA before, during and after a yearlong sojourn in order to identify experiences influencing IS. A mixed-method research design was adopted: quantitative data were collected through pre- and post-surveys as a baseline to document their characteristics related to IS levels; the qualitative data were collected through survey forms, semi-structured question forms, and interviews. Results revealed that Turkish instructors’ IS showed positive change after their sojourn, while American instructors’ IS revealed no difference. Substantial changes in impressions about the home and host cultures were evidenced. Positive variations in instructors’ IS were: the number of foreign languages known; previous international experience; advanced level of knowledge in the host language; previous intercultural training; and a higher international-ness level in the host institution. The coping mechanisms used by instructors involved: understanding the social and cultural characteristics of home and host cultures; increasing knowledge of the host language; proactive interaction in the host culture; accepting and respecting differences; and, avoiding continuous comparisons between cultures, open-criticism and tension-raising discussions. The perceived changes affecting IS negatively were: individualistic and collectivistic cultural differences; a lack of information about host culture and preparedness for the sojourn; and, dealing with bureaucracy in the host culture. The orientation programs and support mechanisms in host institutions affected perceived changes in IS positively.
Intercultural communication competence
Foreign language teachers