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Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Education

First Advisor

Jacqueline Mosselson

Second Advisor

Sally Galman

Third Advisor

Donal Carbaugh

Subject Categories

Communication | Education Policy | First and Second Language Acquisition | Higher Education

Abstract

This study explores Palestinian university teachers' beliefs regarding the concepts of culture and intercultural communicative competence (ICC) and the impact of their perception on classroom teaching practices. The study argues that in the age of globalization, spread of English as a lingua franca , and growing opportunities of intercultural communication, the focus on linguistic competence or literary competence may not be adequate to enable Palestinian university students to use English communicatively and interculturally. Further, the current objectives of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), which seem to exclude the cultural/intercultural dimension, can be expanded through integrating ICC into English language classes.

Using a case study of one of the leading Palestinian Universities, the study explores the aforementioned assumptions and investigates teachers' beliefs regarding the concepts of culture and ICC in the Palestinian university context. Analyzing data from interviews, observations, and documents, the study reveals that EFL Palestinian participants perceived culture as a way of life that comprises a shared system of values, beliefs, ways of thinking, and behaviors. To them, language and culture are interwoven components, and without culture, language acquisition might be difficult to achieve. Additionally, ICC was perceived as the ability to communicate with people from other cultures through gaining cultural knowledge about English /American culture and promoting personality traits. Data analyses disclose that the linguistic competence had the upper hand in classroom teaching practices, and that the target culture(s) was used as a background to assist language learning. However, ICC was absent in EFL Palestinian university classes, and it was perceived, to some extent, as an equivalent to communicative competence. The study concludes with sets of recommendations to local Palestinian English departments, teachers, international textbooks designers, and future research.

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