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Jang, Hye Jin (2022) Exploring the Development of Intercultural Competence of University Students Majoring in Korean. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study investigates how first-year undergraduate learners of Korean at a UK university develop intercultural competence. The study employed the following research questions: 1) Do first-year undergraduate learners of Korean develop intercultural competence? 2) How do the learning experiences of undergraduate learners of Korean lead to different patterns of intercultural development over the academic year? This study adopted a mixed-methods approach with the aim of generating accurate insights by synthesising quantitative and qualitative data. The sample was drawn from 17 first-year undergraduates majoring in Korean or Korean Studies, who also were scheduled to go to South Korea via their university’s study abroad programme. The IDI, a psychometric tool developed by Hammer and Bennett (1998), was used as a quantitative tool. In addition, two sets of in-depth interviews were employed to collect qualitative data. The quantitative analysis indicated that statistically significant IC development had not occurred in the group. However, linear regression analysis with four possible variables of IC (past language experience, past living abroad experience, intercultural experience, and learning motivation) confirmed a significant correlation with the IC development over an academic year. Among possible variables, the past language learning experience variable was the best predictor, followed by intercultural experience and having a personal learning motivation. The quantitative data demonstrated that IC development in individuals can be dynamic and multiple key elements are interlinked with each other, yet these elements may also change over time. The representation of the qualitative data revealed more detailed, complex patterns of the students’ intercultural development, involving multiple individual factors, personal experiences and challenges. The participants constantly engaged in various learning and intercultural activities on and off campus propelling themselves to a deeper understanding of the language, society, and culture. Also, the process of IC development included understanding foreign culture as well as incorporating an understanding of themselves, which developed into improved skills and a deepened cultural awareness. In contrast, the negative experiences of some of the participants led them to create stereotypes or form negative impressions on the entire group level, resulting in less open, judgemental view towards Koreans and Korean culture. Sometimes their perceived stereotypes overshadowed the true intentions of their Korean counterparts, resulting in occasional misinterpretation. In light of the findings described in this work, this study calls for an institutional level of support for the incorporation of an intensive, appropriately sequenced intercultural sensitivity-focused programme into the University language modules. Furthermore, this study argues for a pre- and post-study abroad programme with a special focus on fostering IC to guide students throughout their entire university language programme. Lastly, this work supports a paradigm shift in teaching culture from teaching-centred to learning-centred practices and proposes the introduction of a process where cultural mentors serve as guides and co-researchers in the culture learning process.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Barbara Pizziconi and Anders Karlsson
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2022 10:03

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