November 2016
ICIS Newsletter



Dear ICIS Colleagues,

It’s election time! Yes, for the next U.S. president, but also for the Intercultural Communication Interest Section (ICIS) leadership! This is a very exciting time for the interest section as we search for the next chair-elect. This year, in addition to finding a new chair-elect, we will also be adding two members-at-large to the leadership team. You can learn more about these two roles by looking at the ICIS Governing Rules and TESOL website.

You can also check out the recording of our recent GoTo Meeting about being a part of membership and leadership here. This recording features current and past members of ICIS leadership talking about their experience as leaders. TESOL wants every member to have the opportunity to share his or her voice, contribute to the organization, and receive even more benefits from TESOL through active community participation. Putting your name on the ICIS ballot is one way to take a more active role in the interest section.

From my two years’ experience as first chair-elect and then chair, I have gained many benefits. First, I believe that my role in TESOL leadership was very advantageous when I applied for my current job. TESOL is a prominent, well-known organization in the field of English language teaching. Being able to say that you play an active role in the organization is very attractive to employers. I have also had the opportunity to network with many of the “celebrities” of the intercultural communication field in a way I would not have been able to otherwise. There have been many other benefits, including mentorship and a feeling of satisfaction that comes from being able to make things happen in the organization. I would recommend volunteering for this position to everyone who is a current member of ICIS!


Maxi-Ann Campbell

ICIS Chair 2016–2017

Maxi-Ann Campbell is currently an EFL and writing instructor at Duke Kunshan University and ICIS's chair-elect. She has taught English at Tsinghua University and Shantou University and has served as a Global Academic Fellow at NYU Shanghai. Her research focuses on native-nonnative speaker interaction in university settings and the interplay of culture and language in Chinese English-medium universities on students’ development of linguistic and cultural competence.


Patriann Smith

Natalia Balyasnikova

Hello ICIS Friends!

We are happy to welcome you to the new academic year with this newsletter. The theme for the November issue reflects our interest section’s (IS’s) theme for the year 2016–2017: Cultural Synergy. The idea ofsynergy in intercultural communication points to the importance of cooperation and the mutual effort of everyone in reaching understanding, and we hope that the collection of articles this month really speaks to this theme.

As usual, we are happy to share some updates with you: Maxi-Ann Campell, the chair of our section, writes about the upcoming leadership election, and Jeremy Slagoski, our community manager, gives us an extensive report about the state of the IS’s membership and ways to connect on social media.

The research article section opens with a piece from ICIS Chair-Elect Ramin Yazdanpanah. Drawing on his own experience, Ramin elaborates on six useful tips on how to encourage cultural synergy in the classroom and shares a list of useful resources for future reading. Another article, based on an applied research project, comes from Victoria Surtees, a doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia. Victoria writes on her experience of using mobile phones to survey language learners about where, with whom, and how they used English in their daily lives. We hope that Victoria’s experiences would encourage more colleagues to try alternative ways of engaging with language learners to gain insight into their complex language issues and cultural experiences.

We are thankful to the renowned international educator Dr. Darla Deardorff, who agreed to give us an interview for this issue. Dr. Deardorff is the executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), an international professional organization based at Duke University, where she is a research scholar in the Program of Education. We talked to Dr. Deardorff about her career and her views on the role of intercultural communication in the changing world and challenges it puts before language educators. In this interview, Dr. Deardorff also comments on the theme of our newsletter and gives useful advice to the colleagues who want to continue growing as intercultural educators.

Another wonderful addition to our newsletters is the Book Review section. Mohsen Moghaddam from Simon Fraser University reviews Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education by García and Wei. Book reviews are a great way to publish academically and to help colleagues stay up-to-date with current developments in the field. This is why we are excited to feature Mohsen’s work and hope it will encourage more submissions!

We hope that these articles will not only enrich your practice, but also inspire you to share your ideas with our readership. What better way to celebrate all the accomplishments of our members!


Patriann and Natalia

ICIS Coeditors 2016–2017

Like our pages on Facebook

Fun Facts about Patriann and Natalia

Patriann enjoys hiking and feels rejuvenated when she hikes a great trail! Despite a busy spring 2016 semester, she has hiked three trails so far at the Caprock Canyon State Park in Quitaque, Texas, the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, and the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, Texas. Twitter:@Patriann_Smith

Natalia has always lived in large cities with a developed public transport system, which is why despite working for multiple car dealerships, she still does not know how to drive. Twitter: @_balyasnikova



The global demand for English language learning continues to increase global movement of ELTs and ELLs alike. In Yang’s (2012) article, Overseas Teaching Jobs: a lesson in supply and demand, the author reports that the Toronto based recruiting agency Teach Away has “seen a 400-percent increase in job applications since December [2009]” (p.1). In the U.S. alone there were 974,926 international students from over 300 countries worldwide studying at U.S. universities in 2015, a 10% increase from the previous year (Institute of International Education, 2016). This increase in migration throughout the world also increases the need for greater understanding of how culture influences expectations, behavior, and practice within educational contexts. Liu and Gallois (2014) cite that “Intercultural competence is increasingly recognized across the global spectrum of educational institutions, corporations, government agencies and non-government organizations as a central capability for the 21st century (Hammer, 2011)” (p.11).

Centers of learning that are increasingly diverse are obvious places for intercultural education and exchange to take place. Byram and Feng (2004) point out, “The need to ‘rethink’ cultural differences and identities is directly related to the issue of what world educators should prepare their students for, and this has clear implications for setting educational objectives” (p.158). Specifically within EFL/ESOL teacher preparation programs, professional standards emphasize the importance thatcultural awareness has on effective English language teaching. The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), TESOL/CAEP Standards for P-12 Teacher Education Programs, and TESOL Standards for ESL/EFL Teachers of Adults all highlight the importance for teacher education and English language programs to prepare students to understand how culture influences teaching and learning. As Fenner and Snyder (2015) affirm, “To understand the effect of specific cultures on language learning and classroom behavior, candidates must have a general knowledge of world cultures and understand the potential implications of culture on student performance” (p.11). This statement clearly asserts the importance that intercultural competence has within methodologically sound second language teaching and learning.

However, second-language teacher education has traditionally focused more on theory, methodology, and language, than on culture (Byram, 1997). Research shows that teacher preparation and development programs have not been adequate in preparing pre-service or in-service teachers for cultural variations and intercultural communication, leading to feelings of professional inadequacy (DeVillar and Jiang, 2012). This of course can be especially true for ELTs with little experience working within different or diverse cultural contexts, as well as teachers with little or no explicit intercultural education. Actual experiences with individuals of diverse cultures and identity that enable non-judgmental discussions and exchanges about beliefs and behaviors, as well as connections between culture, teaching, and learning, have been suggested as ways to develop teachers’ abilities to understand the complex relationship between language learning and culture (Romano and Cushner, 2007).

Cultural Synergy

Establishing a safe environment that encourages open, equal and active participation of everyone involved is fundamental to facilitating intercultural exchange. Cultural synergy is an approach to intercultural education that captures this spirit. Jin and Cortazzi (2001) explain that cultural synergy “implies mutual effort from all participants to learn about, understand, and appreciate others’ cultures and their interpretations of learning and reciprocally to learn with and from others” (p.211). The researchers present the following example of the utility of cultural synergy for understanding cultural notions and variations, in this case within the context of the learning and teaching of English for academic purposes (EAP):

The enactment of cultural synergy, with some degree of explicitness, is useful for EAP learners because it clarifies expectations of practices regarding uses of English in social and academic contexts; it should expose some underlying presuppositions about academic cultures of learning as they apply to the local institutional context and target disciplines. It is useful for teachers because it sets appropriate but challenging goals for professional development: learning about others’ notions of learning and finding ways to enhance them in relation to relevant host institutions (

The process of intercultural exchange through cultural synergy also involves the understanding of diverse cultures of learning through greater awareness of “meta-cognitive and meta-affective” aspects of learning in relation to both others and ourselves. As Jin and Cortazzi (ibid) state, the goal of cultural synergy is to promote, “a respect for others and dignity for oneself, a sense of integrity about one’s own participation in a range of cultures of learning, an aspiration for confirmation or enhancement of identity for both learners and teachers”. The application of culturally synergistic activities between domestic and international students has been used to reduce learning shock among and between students. Griffiths (2004) reports from the context of classes within the College of Business where intercultural exchanges help to establish a “culture of support rather than competition” (p.27). Liu (1998) discusses how cultural synergetic activities have helped international students within the researcher’s TESOL graduate program: “In our sociolinguistics course, we ask them [international students] to team up with American students to investigate, using real-life data, the differences between American cultures and their own. Many of them feel that they have gained much insight this way” (p.9). In discussing the need for pre and in-service teachers to build more awareness of deep culture and move towards a more ethnorelative understanding of ELLs, Pappamihiel (2004) advocates for teacher education programs to enable hands-on practicum and exchanges with adult ELLs who can articulate and express differences in culture.

Advice for Facilitating Cultural Synergy through Intercultural Exchange

There is really no one better than us, educators of language and culture, to both advocate for and facilitate intercultural exchanges. After all, as TESOL professionals we engage in intercultural exchanges on a daily basis! The following are some tips based on my experiences facilitating intercultural exchanges between international ELLs and US-American university students:
  • Work with a co-facilitator: Having someone to plan and work with during the IC exchange, as well as debrief after the IC exchange is essential. A co-facilitator can be a colleague, teacher, or student. Someone of different gender, ethnicity, and/or experience can also bring diverse perspectives useful to the process.

  • Prepare participants: Providing activities and rational before the IC exchange can save time when participants actually meet. It also gets participants to start thinking about the concepts involved in the activities. This is especially useful for ELLs, as it can provide clarity on what is expected of them, as well as build confidence through experience with the activity. This also provides an opportunity to apply and practice language skills before and within the IC exchange.

  • Be explicit in rational: Don’t assume participants understand the goals of the IC exchange. Being clear and explicit by discussing rational with the participants before, during and after the IC exchange will help participants connect the dots and understand how to apply skills outside of the exchange.

  • Get buy in from participants: Motivation and attitude are key characteristics to successful IC exchanges. Present the IC exchange as an opportunity to both share and learn (i.e. cultural synergy!). Students of language, culture, and international studies often have intrinsic motivation and genuine interest in culture. Providingclass credit or recognition on transcripts can also serve to provide extrinsic motivation. ELLs often look forward to the opportunity to get out of classroom and interact with native speakers.

  • Provide opportunities for reflection: Having participants reflect on the IC exchange through journals, blogs, class discussions and 1-1 debriefings can help them to process their experiences within the IC exchange. This also enables the facilitators to better see and understand how the participants are conceptualizing what they are learning and adjust IC activities to fit the needs of the participants.

  • Set ground rules: Establishing an environment of respect and trust is imperative to IC exchanges. Ask participants to hold off judging different perspectives, as this can shut down communication quickly. Mindful, conscious and engaged listening should be encouraged. A good tool to teach to participants is the R.A.S.A. technique: Receive by paying attention to the person; Appreciate, by making little noises like “hmm, “okay”; Summarize, “so” is very important in communication; Ask, ask follow-up questions afterward (Treasure, 2011).

  • Encourage an ethnorelative perspective: Finally, enable participants to describe their own culture(s) objectively by discussing ways culturally diverse people within the society think, live, and behave. The aim is to avoid reinforcing both negative and positive stereotypes, and develop more complex understandings of cultures, countries and people.

The following resources can help you and your colleagues in developing the skills and activities to facilitate intercultural exchanges. This is a short list, so if you have any other resources, please do share.

Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Byram, M. and Feng, A. (2004). Culture and language learning: teaching, research and scholarship. Language Teaching, 37, pp 149-168 doi:10.1017/S0261444804002289

DeVillar, R. A., & Jiang, B. (2012). From student teaching abroad to teaching in the U.S. classroom: Effects of global experiences on local instructional practice. Teacher Education Quarterly, 39(3), 7-24.

Fenner, D. S., & Snyder, S. (2015). Standards for Short-Term TEFL/TESL Certificate Programs. Alexandria, VA:TESOL Press.

Griffiths, D. S.,Winstanley, D., & Yiannis, G. (2004). Learning shock: The trauma of return to formal learning. Management Learning, 36(3), 275-297.

Hammer. M. R., Bennell, M. J., & Wiseman. R. (2003). Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The intercultural development inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 27(4). 421-443.

Institute of International Education (2016). Open Doors Data Special Reports: International Students, All Places of Origin 2014/2015. Retrieved 5/1, 2016, from

Jin, L., & Cortazzi, M. Retrieved 6/21, 2016, from

Liu, D. (1998). Ethnocentrism in TESOL: Teacher education and the neglected needs of international TESOL students. ELT Journal, 52(1), 3-10.

Liu, S., & Gallois, C. (2014). Integrating intercultural communication and cross-cultural psychology: Theoretical and pedagogical implications. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1).

Pappamihiel, N. E. (2004). Hugs and smiles: Demonstrating caring in a multicultural early childhood classroom. Early Child Development &Care, 174(6), 539–548.

Romano, R.,&Cushner, K. (2007). Reflections on the importance and value of the overseas student-teaching experience In K. Cushner, & S. Brennan (Eds.), Intercultural student teaching: A bridge to global competence (pp. 215-225). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Treasure, J. (2011). Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better [video file]. Retrieved from

Yang, J. (2012). Overseas teaching jobs: a lesson in supply and demand. Retrieved from

Ramin Yazdanpanah is the Director of TEFL Program at Florida State University. A visionary with a global perspective, Ramin strives to apply effective and creative methods to learning and teaching, with the goal of developing greater understanding of ourselves and others. Ramin is completing his PhD in International and Comparative Education, with a focus on intercultural competence training in ESL contexts. You can also catch him playing didgeridoo and cajon in his band the Maharajah Flamenco Trio, as well as at TESOL conventions.


As a practitioner working with study-abroad students in Canada, I often wish I knew more about what my students were up to when I’m not around. I ask myself questions like: Do they have enough opportunities to use English in meaningful ways? Are they encountering and negotiating cultural difference? Are they being supported by their peer community? Like many instructors working with young adults far from their homes (often for the first time), I feel responsible for ensuring they benefit from the cultural and linguistic opportunities surrounding them. A few years ago, my concerns spurred me to undertake a small research project on out-of-class interactions with 12 undergraduate study-abroad English learners in Montreal. I thought if I could get study-abroad learners to report details about their experiences outside the classroom, I would have more insight into critical intercultural incidents that I could then discuss in my classroom. But how could I make sure my participants would actually take down details about their interactions? Notebooks? Diaries?

I decided to take a risk. Instead of using diaries or interviews as other researchers had traditionally done (Jackson, 2008), I asked students to use their own mobile devices to report their language use. Their task: to complete a 3-minute mobile survey each time they spoke English for a period of 10 days. After training them briefly to use the electronic survey, I set them loose in the world and crossed my fingers that I would get some usable data. What I ended up with was astounding.

My 12 participants submitted more than 800 surveys. What’s more, they didn’t just include public interactions like ordering pizza; they reported interactions I never thought to ask about. Every student reported moments when they failed to communicate or felt powerless. One participant described how a girl turned him down for a date. Another student described how she argued with her roommate about who ate the last of the yoghurt. After the project was finished, the students told me that via their participation, they had become more aware of features of their own English use. For example, one student noticed she only spoke to nonnative speakers. Another noted she spoke about the same number of limited topics, over and over. I started to think that perhaps this project could be used for more than just finding out what my students talked about. This kind of data could be easily used to fuel critical discussions about who is responsible for miscommunications or why some interactions are more difficult than others. It is in that spirit that I share my procedure and rationale, in the hopes that the creative readers of this forum will transform my project into a language awareness activity for their students.

Why Use Mobile Devices Instead of Paper Diaries or Logs?

The ubiquity of mobile devices in daily life makes them ideal research tools. Mobile devices are essentially invisible; they are already a part of many young people’s everyday lives and can be integrated seamlessly and inconspicuously into their daily practices (Bachmair & Pachler, 2015). Consider the sheer number of social network updates and SMS conversations that today’s youth engage in. Students use mobile devices to record and share all aspects of their lives with others, especially their noninstitutional activities (think Instagrammed dinners). Because I was interested in learning about informal everyday situations, asking students to use devices on which they already recorded such details seemed ideal for this project. My hope was that they could complete entries on the bus, in their houses, and at parties without drawing undue attention. What I did not expect, however, is that the use of personal devices seemed also to encourage the sharing of more intimate or vulnerable moments when they felt powerless as additional language speakers.

My Mobile Survey

For this project, I used a mobile survey platform called Survey Gizmo to create a short questionnaire that would be accessible from all devices and platforms, including Smartphones, tablets, and desktops (other mobile survey tools would likely also work well). My original intent was to obtain information on the social functions of the language students were using (e.g., how often they apologized or complained and which was more difficult). Therefore, my survey aimed to record the contexts, frequency, and relative difficulty of different interactions in study-abroad students’ daily life. I included the following questions:

  1. What happened? What did you say? (open-ended)

  2. Location (open-ended)

  3. Who were your conversation partners? (open-ended)

  4. How well do you know your conversation partners? (1–5 scale)

  5. Were any of your partners native speakers of English? (yes/no/I don’t know)

  6. How easy was it for you to speak English in this situation? (1–5 scale)

  7. In one week, how often do you use English to say something similar?(1–5 scale)

  8. Comments (open-ended)

These questions could be adapted to focus more narrowly on interactions in specific contexts (e.g., service encounters) or a particular kind of language (e.g., swearing).


Once I had created the survey,I recruited 12 undergraduate study-abroad students who were studying abroad at an English-speaking university in Montreal. They were from various first language backgrounds and had come on a one or two semester–long exchange. I then invited them to a group training session. Each person practiced using the survey and completed a trial entry. We also discussed the kinds of information that were good to include. For example, we watched video clips of friends interacting and practicedbeing specific about the kinds of language that was being used (e.g., instead of I talked about music use I explained what music I liked or I told her I didn’t like that music). Sufficient training was critical for gathering detailed information about their interactions. It also meant I didn’t have to include lengthy instructions in the mobile survey, which made it faster (and more attractive) to complete.

For 10 days following the training, the participants submitted surveys using whatever mobile device they desired. Some students preferred tablets and some smartphones, but they all tended to submit entries in small batches several times a day. The surveys took from 1–6 minutes to complete. Each time a survey was completed, the data were sent to a master account where I could monitor the times and number of entries submitted. The data were also automatically entered on a spreadsheet for easy analysis.

A week following collection, we met again as a group to discuss which kinds of topics or acts, such as apologizing or complaining, were easiest and which were most difficult. We critically reflected on why some might be more difficult than others, which led to discussions of cultural difference. Once I had all the data, I grouped survey entries by difficulty rating to see if there were patterns in the features of interactions which were rated difficult. I also grouped the interactions by location (e.g., residence or public) and by interlocutor type (e.g., peer or professor) to investigate how their English use was distributed. In this way, I was able to map out my students’ language use and understand the factors that made interactions challenging for them.

Creating a Language-Awareness Project Using Mobile Surveys

What stood out in this project is that by completing entries, students became more aware of patterns in their English use and were able to think critically about cultural differences. The practice of systematically recording details about interactions afforded them some distance and allowed for an analytical space that instructors could harness to explore critical language issues.

I believe that by asking students to analyse their own data (instead of the researcher), the power of this activity could be further enhanced. Here are a few ways this mobile-survey project could be modified as a course project to promote students’ awareness about their own and others’ language practices:

  • Students could choose entries in which miscommunication occurred, discuss why there was a breakdown, and rewrite the interaction.

  • Based on the data they collected, students could reflect critically on the different kinds of English used for different activities and with different people.

  • Students could choose an interaction rated as easy and one rated as difficult and discuss what aspects of the context made them rate it that way.

  • Students could be asked to produce maps of their interactions.

  • The survey could be modified to investigate a particular type of encounter or language, such as insults. Students could gather their observations in small groups and present on their experiences.


In many contexts, the quantity and quality of students’ English experiences outside the classroom are often the lens through which they perceive success or failure in language learning (Benson, Barkhuisen, Bodycott, & Brown, 2013). Bringing a critical discussion of those experiences into the classroom via data collected with mobile surveys could be one way to encourage them to consider the complex language issues they face in their daily lives.


Bachmair, B., & Pachler, N. (2015). Framing ubitquitous mobility educationally: Mobile devices and context-aware learning. In L.-H. Wong, M. Milrad, & M. Specht (Eds.), Seamless learning in the age of mobile connectivity (pp. 57–74). New York, NY: Springer.

Benson, P., Barkhuisen, G., Bodycott, P., & Brown, J. (2013). Second language identity in narratives of study abroad. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jackson, J. (2008). Language, identity, and study abroad: Sociocultural perspectives. London, England: Equinox.

Victoria Surtees is a PhD candidate and instructor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. She works primarily with undergraduate study-abroad students and teacher candidates specializing in TESL. The project described in this article was part of her master’s research and was presented in 2014 at the Conference of the American Applied Linguistics Association in Toronto (presentation available here). In her PhD research, she continues to use mobile devices in innovative ways to explore students’ out-of-class experiences.



Darla K. Deardorff is the executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators, a national professional organization based at Duke University, where she is an adjunct faculty member in the Program in Education. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University and at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (formerly Monterey Institute of International Studies) and a visiting professor at Meiji University Research Institute of International Education in Japan as well as at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. Dr. Deardorff is a visiting faculty member at Shanghai International Studies University in China and at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, and she is on the faculty of Harvard University’s Future of Learning Institute and the prestigious Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication in Portland, Oregon.

Please, tell us about your background and how you got involved in the study of intercultural communication.

Intercultural communication aligns very closely to my own faith beliefs and values actually, which emphasize peacemaking. So, my work and research on intercultural competence can be summed up by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that “We must learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools.” I am researching what is necessary for us to get along together as humans.

What's your personal philosophy on teaching English to speakers of other languages?

My personal philosophy in teaching English to speakers of other languages (and in teaching in general) is one of learner-centeredness. I think it’s really important to find out more about learners’ needs and then meet those needs through the content and delivery. In doing so, I’ve actually learned so much from my students and greatly value what they’ve taught me.

The interest in intercultural communication never seems to decrease. Why do you think that is?

Language and culture are so closely intertwined that I think intercultural communication, and intercultural competence, will continue to generate interest around the world. For example, I’ve just returned from working with language teachers in Japan and China, where there is a lot of interest in understanding how to concretely integrate intercultural competence into language teaching.

The theme of our newsletter is "Cultural Synergy." How do you understand this theme? What does it mean for you as a researcher and practitioner?

Cultural synergy in my view is the dynamic process of harnessing the strengths and capacities that result within the diversity that exists within our classrooms, institutions, and even within our local communities and society as a whole. While diversity in all its richness—including differences across gender, age, religion, ethnicities, and so on—can certainly have its challenges, in the end, we can be more creative and have more rewarding relationships when we celebrate the intersections of our differences. So, for me as a researcher and practitioner, I like to look for the interconnectedness of the ideas, content, and context, and it’s in that interconnectedness that the synergies are born.

Tell us about your most recent projects. Why did you decide to undertake them?

My most recent projects involve a book (Intercultural Competence in International Higher Education, to be published by Routledge in 2017) which features 29 concrete case studies from around the world, an intercultural competence development project with the United Nations, and an intercultural competence assessment project with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These three projects seemed particularly vital because of the potential to impact many others.

Tell us about someone who has influenced your work the most.

It’s difficult to choose just one person—my work has been influenced by so many, including quite a few intercultural scholars in different parts of the world. For example, I feel privileged to have been able to work with Michael Byram in my initial research study on intercultural competence, as well as others such as Janet Bennett, Peggy Pusch, Alvino Fantini, and Michael Paige. I also continue to be influenced by my students and through discussions with colleagues around the world.

What seminal works would you recommend to those who are interested in exploring this topic further?

Well, certainly for those wanting to learn more about intercultural competence, I would recommend the The Sage Handbook of Intercultural Competence! And for practical ICC activities for the classroom, there’s Building Cultural Competence, which I edited with a colleague and features over 50 different intercultural communication activities. For foundational books on intercultural communication, some that may be considered (this is not an exhaustive list, by the way!) are certainly Byram’s books, Hall’s Beyond Culture, Hofstede’s books, Kramsch’s books, Lustig and Koester’s Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures, Martin and Nakayama’s Experiencing Intercultural Communication: An Introduction, and Storti’s books, especiallyFiguring Foreigners Out. For a list of quite a few more resources, check out the Resource pages [Please link to this page.] at the Intercultural Communication Institute’s website... I also really like Clayton’s One Classroom, One World for the practical way of integrating intercultural concepts into the language classroom.

What advice would you give to colleagues just starting in our field?

Make the most of every opportunity—“carpe diem” (seize the day!) has always been a mantra I’ve lived by. Learn from your students. Reach out to those you want to learn from. And be involved in our professional organization (TESOL)—the network, relationships, and professional development obtained through such involvement is invaluable.

    For Further Reading

      Landis, D., Bennett, J., & Bennett, M. (2003). Handbook of intercultural training. Sage Publications.

      Berardo, K., Deardorff, D. K. (2012). Building cultural competence.Stylus Publishing.

      Hall, E. T. (1989). Beyond culture. Anchor.

      Lustig M., Koester J . (1993). Intercultural competence: interpersonal communication across cultures. HarperCollins College Publishers

      Martin J., Nakayama T. (2010). Experiencing intercultural communication: an introduction. McGraw-Hill Humanities Social.

      Natalia Balyasnikova is a PhD Candidate at the department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia. Her research interests include intercultural communication in adult ESL classrooms.


      García, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and education. London, England: Palgrave MacMillan UK. 165 pages.

      Ofelia García and Li Wei published their seminal book, Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism, and Education, in 2014. The book is divided into two parts. The first part of the book consists of two chapters and addresses the development of the traditional notion of language and bilingualism into languaging and the emergence of the term "translanguaging.” The second part of the book consists of five chapters and reviews the way education, particularly bilingual and monolingual education, has been viewed traditionally.

      García and Wei start Chapter 1, "Language Learning and Bilingualism," by introducing structuralist and mentalist conceptions of language and how the Bakhtinian concept of heteroglossia challenges these concepts. They introduce the concept of languaging, which is an important part of the term translanguaging, and show how the shift from language to languaging led to the emergence of translanguaging. They review bilingualism, multilingualism, and plurilingualism as concepts and argue that the Saussurean view of language, which is a monolingual perspective, formed the underlying root of the traditional definition of these concepts. García and Wei propose that dynamic bilingualism research has indicated that, unlike traditional views, bilingual speakers’ languages interact with each other in listening or speaking.

      In Chapter 2, the authors explain the differences between translanguaging and code switching, arguing that translanguaging "is not simply a shift or a shuttle between two languages" (p. 22). Then they argue that translanguaging goes beyond the idea of multicompetence of bilingual speakers (Cook, 2008) and hybridity theory. It also goes beyond oral interaction as it includes other modalities and modes such as image, speech, writing, and artifact.

      García and Wei end part one of the book by referring to a number of terms such as crossing, transidiomatic practices, polylingualism, metrolingualism, multivocality, codemeshing, and bilanguaging. The authors argue that translanguaging is the only term that can capture the fluid language practices of language users.

      The second part of the book, “Education and Translanguaging,” starts with the argument that education in government-based schools is still focusing on monolingual “academic standard” practices and is mostly provided in the language of the powerful group. The authors argue that bilingual education programs must help learners to become critically conscious and empower them to engage with the relationship between language and power. I entirely believe that García and Wei are right about this; research has shown that one of the main reasons for underachievement of culturally and linguistically diverse students is the existence of social power relations in the school context (see, e.g., Cummins, 2009; Cummins, Hu, Markus, & Montero, 2015).

      Chapters 5 and 6 are dedicated to the potential of translanguaging in changing the nature of teaching and learning. They introduce pupil-directed translanguaging and teacher-directed translanguaging in Chapter 5. The authors go on to view translanguaging as pedagogy which refers to "building on bilingual students’ language practices flexibly in order to develop new understandings and new language practices, including those deemed ‘academic standard’ practices" (p. 92) and explain that it is important for classes with students from linguistically diverse backgrounds because it builds on the linguistic strengths of students. Chapter 6 might be a favorite of those who want to see how they can apply translanguaging in their classroom when teaching different courses. In this chapter, the authors provide examples of translanguaging in mathematics, social studies, science, and English language arts classrooms.

      Chapter 7 explores the principles and strategies that can be used when teachers are practicing translanguaging pedagogy. In all of these principles and strategies, students' first language plays a key role. This is because part of bilingual learners' knowledge could be in their first language. By encouraging learners to use their first language and activating this knowledge, students can bring their previous knowledge into the new context. Cummins (2009) states that instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students is effective when their prior knowledge is activated and background knowledge is built by the instruction. Chapter 7 also addresses two challenges of using translanguaging in education: the challenge of developing students’ understanding of how to do translanguaging as a legitimate practice and the challenge of using translanguaging in assessment and developing translanguaged assessment.

      The book ends with a short conclusion addressing the issue that translanguaging is not limited to language and education only. García and Wei state that although they focused on language and education throughout the book, the notion of translanguaging goes beyond these areas.

      I agree with the authors that use of minority students' home language in the classroom provides more equitable educational opportunities and brings social justice into the classroom environment. Some students in multilingual classrooms may know the content of the course; however, because of a lack of proficiency in the language of school, they may not participate fully in class discussions. Cummins et al. (2005) argue that "by welcoming a student's home language, schools facilitate the flow of knowledge, ideas, and feelings between home and school and across languages" (p. 41). They state that these types of pedagogical practices are different from the regular pedagogies we see in schools because the teacher accepts that the language in which bilingual learners' prior experience is encoded is a significant resource for learning. Another advantage of bringing students' home language into the classroom is the affirmation of students’ identities. By respecting students’ language and culture, Cummins et al. (2005) state, students engage with literacy more and invest their identities in learning (p. 42). Identity investment and positionality are, according to García and Wei, two of the goals of teachers who use translanguaging for teaching to learn content and language (p. 120).

      Overall, García’s and Wei's book effectively explores how the notion of translanguaging transforms and alters our traditional understanding of language, bilingualism, and education and can prepare learners for today's globalized world. It brings theoretical as well as practical issues into consideration to show the importance of translanguaging. The book has implications for teachers to improve their knowledge of bilingual education and to prepare them to work with bilingual students. Teacher education and training programs should also include bilingual principles and strategies in their training courses. Teachers should be aware that any connection to the learners' first language and culture will have a direct effect on their academic success. Cummins (2009, p. 11) points out that when students feel that their culture and identity are affirmed, they are much more likely to engage with literacy than those whose cultures and identities are disregarded. Another implication of García’s and Wei's argument is that bilingual/multilingual learners have to be viewed as social actors who have different degrees of proficiency in several languages and the experience of several cultures (Marshall & Moore, 2013, p. 477). This means that we need to consider bilingual/multilingual children as plurilingual competent learners who can use several languages in varying different degrees for several purposes.


      Cook, V. J. (2008). Second language learning and language teaching. London, England: Arnold.

      Cummins, J. (2009). Transformative multiliteracies pedagogy: School-based strategies for closing the achievement gap. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 11(2), 38–56.

      Cummins, J., Bismilla, V., Chow, P., Cohen, S., Giampapa, F., Leoni, L.,Sandhu, O., & Sastri, P. (2005). Affirming identity in multilingual classrooms. Educational Leadership, 63(1), 38–43.

      Cummins, J., Hu, S., Markus, P., & Montero, M. (2015). Identity texts and academic achievement: Connecting the dots in multilingual school contexts. TESOL Quarterly, 49, 555–581.

      Marshall, S., & Moore, D. (2013). 2B or Not 2B plurilingual? Navigating languages, literacies, and plurilingual competence in postsecondary education in Canada. TESOL Quarterly 47, 472–499.

      Mohsen H. Moghaddam is a second-year PhD student in languages, cultures, and literacies at Simon Fraser University. He received his first master's degree in applied linguistics (ELT) from University of Tehran and his second master's degree in Education from Simon Fraser University. His research interests are multilingual education and social justice, multiliteracies, and multimodalities.



      I'm Jeremy Slagoski, Community Manager of the TESOL ICIS, updating the interest section on our YouTube playlists and online access to the community.

      TESOL ICIS YouTube Playlists of Films

      Over the summer, our community was quite active with a discussion on lists of films for cross-cultural and intercultural communication. Through many community members’ contributions, I was able to create two playlists of film trailers. There are 92 feature film trailers to view here and 24 documentary trailers to view here. If you’d like to add more feature films or documentaries to this list, please send them to me via the TESOL ICIS listserv.

      Online Access

      In May, TESOL ICIS started a blog. I haven’t posted anything new since the end of May because I assumed many of us would be away for a summer break or vacation. Although we had many visitors in May, we haven’t had much activity since then. See Figure 1 for a chart showing how many views and visitors our blog received beginning July 11. I am sure one reason for this is that we have not posted anything new.


      Figure 1. ICIS Blog analytics.

      We also revived TESOL ICIS’ Facebook page, which I later learned is not very interactive by design. (Facebook groups are interactive, but more on that later.) Our Facebook page acts like a shop window for visitors to view and like whatever we post (which is not much, because I prefer more interactive interfaces). Anyway, the Facebook page has grown significantly in the same time period. Because this is open to the public, we have received many likes as seen in Figure 2.

      Figure 2. ICIS Facebook analytics.

      Because I’m an administrator of this Facebook page, I get a notification on my personal Facebook page when we get a new like. And as Figure 2 shows, it seems like I get notifications almost every day. Many of the people who like our Facebook page are not official TESOL ICIS members, and I’m sure that some of them are not even TESOL members. However, most of them are not in or from the United States, so we are reaching a more international audience with this page than we are with our other online entities.

      Finally, our Facebook group has 55 members, which seems to closely match the number of people active on our TESOL ICIS listserv. I believe nearly everyone in this group is actually a TESOL ICIS community member. If you haven’t joined the Facebook group yet, please do. Ramin Yazdanpanah and I have been adding content to stimulate discussion every week or so for this group. From my perspective, it seems slightly more active than our TESOL ICIS listserv. I don’t get lovely statistics for this group like I do for the other two online entities mentioned earlier.

      I’ve also been a part of the beta testing group for TESOL’s new online community page/forum. The first stage of beta testing is wrapping up, and then a second stage will be beginning soon to address community management, so I’ll be more involved in the second stage.

      That’s all for me right now!




      Intercultural Communication Interest Section Mission Statement

      The mission of Intercultural Communication Interest Section (ICIS) is to promote among teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) intercultural awareness and a respect for all cultures and co-cultures.

      To this end, ICIS will provide a clearly defined forum to bring together educators and scholars whose interests lie in the area of intercultural communication, particularly in the context of English language classes.

      The purpose of ICIS is as follows: To promote intercultural understanding in particular environments such as education and business, to support research in intercultural communication, to recommend specific methodology(s) for teaching intercultural communication, and to promote cross-cultural classes/courses in curricula.

      To accomplish this purpose, the ICIS shall

      • promote interest in the study of intercultural communication;

      • encourage research and the development of ESOL materials in intercultural communication;

      • advocate course work in intercultural communication and cross-cultural understanding in teacher training programs, including graduate level courses in TESOL and related fields;

      • advocate the offering of a class/course in intercultural communication and cross- cultural understanding at secondary and college levels of education;

      • encourage TESOL members to prepare and deliver presentations on issues pertaining to intercultural communication at national, regional, and local professional conferences;

      • establish and maintain an ICIS newsletter; and

      • establish a training consultancy to disseminate information regarding intercultural communication to TESOL members and the larger community.

      More information here.


      We're looking for:

      • Feature articles (up to 1,750 words). Share your research projects, classroom practices, professional development, etc.
      • Anecdotes and stories (up to 1,000 words). Have you observed something interesting or unique? Do you want to share your thoughts and reflections on something that happened in your practice? There is space for that in our newsletter!
      • Compilation and evaluation of useful resources (up to 700 words). Share a bibliography or a list of references that always comes in handy.
      • Reports and reviews (up to 700 words). Write about a great book or an article that you read, or talk about a conference that you attended.

      There are copies of past newsletters on our community webpage if you want to check for some references and inspiration.

      This call closes on 15 January 2017.

      General Submission Quick Guide

      Articles should

      • have the title in ALL CAPS;
      • list a byline (author’s name with hyperlinked email, affiliation, city, country, and an author photo);
      • include a 2- to 3-sentence (or fewer) teaser for the newsletter homepage;
      • be no longer than 1,750 words (includes bylines, teasers, main text, tables, and author bios);
      • contain no more than five citations;
      • include a 2- to 3-sentence author biography at the end of the article;
      • follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (APA style); and
      • be in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt format.

      All figures, graphs, and other images should be sent in separate jpg files.

      If the author includes a photo, it must be:

      • a head and shoulder shot
      • a jpg
      • width = 90px, height = 120px
      • clear, clean, professional, appropriate to the article

      is a great venue to showcase your work and share your ideas with our community. We look forward to seeing your submissions! Please send your articles to Natalia Balyasnikova at with the subject line “ICIS Newsletter Submission”.