Assessing Intercultural Capability in Language Learning
MIC Distinguished Lecture Series
In a 25-year review of intercultural language learning, Byram (2014) has observed that the question of assessment remains underdeveloped. Many different conceptions and processes have been proposed, reflecting different purposes and paradigms. In this paper I begin by surveying the contested perspectives related to assessing intercultural capability. Drawing on a praxis-oriented body of research being undertaken at the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures on this theme, I then discuss complexities that pertain to (1) conceptualising the construct of intercultural capability, (2) eliciting, (3) judging or evidencing, and (4) warranting this capability. I will explain that, at a fundamental level, the assessment of intercultural capability is intricate because it requires an expansion in the conceptualisation of language and culture. It also requires a paradigm shift in assessment that recognises that the assessment of the intercultural capability entails not only the assessment of knowledge, performance or achievement but also the capability on the part of students to decentre from their own situatedness in a particular language(s) and culture(s) as they enter and engage with another.
Angela Scarino is Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics and Director of the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures, in Justice and Society at the University of South Australia. Her research expertise is in languages education in linguistically and culturally diverse societies, second language learning within an intercultural orientation, second language assessment, and second language teacher education. She has been a Chief Investigator on a range of externally funded research grants. She has worked in diverse contexts beyond Australia, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, France and New Zealand. Books include Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning (with Tony Liddicoat, 2013 Wiley-Blackwell), Dynamic ecologies: a relational perspective on language education in the Asia-Pacific region (edited volume with Neil Murray, 2014. Springer). She is currently the Chair of the Multicultural Education and Languages Committee, a committee that advises the Minister for Education on languages and multicultural education in South Australia.