Predicting Taiwanese college students’ intercultural sensitivity: What truly matters?

I-Jane Janet Weng

Abstract


This study aims to assess and contribute to understanding of Taiwanese college students’ intercultural sensitivity. It specifically examines the predictive power of students’ English proficiency and other international experience variables that could enhance intercultural sensitivity. These variables include taking cultural courses, living abroad, traveling and studying overseas, doing overseas service and having foreign friends. A modified Intercultural Sensitivity Scale was adopted as the research instrument. A questionnaire was conducted with 159 English majors from a Taiwanese technological university. A quantitative analysis shows that Interaction Engagement is the most significant intercultural sensitivity dimension, followed by Interaction Respect and Enjoyment and Interaction Attentiveness. The weakest dimension is Interaction Confidence, which is also closely linked to English proficiency. However, for the students in this study, English proficiency does not correlate with the other three ISS dimensions. The best predictor of proficiency is experiences of having foreign friends. For the dimensions of Interaction Confidence, Interaction Engagement and Interaction Attentiveness, there are significant differences between participants having and not having foreign friends. This suggests the need to provide interesting, meaningful and personal intercultural experiences for language learners which could be established through person-to-person cross-cultural encounters and which might develop into real friendships.

Keywords


intercultural communicative competence; cultural sensitivity; English proficiency; EFL; college students; Taiwan

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