Language and the development of intercultural competence in an ‘internationalised’ university: Staff and student perspectives

Katie Dunworth, Trevor Grimshaw, Janina Iwaniec, James Mckinley

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Within the currently diverse UK higher education environment, one important aspect of learning is the development of intercultural competence. The study that informs this paper investigated the ways intercultural competence was perceived as being enhanced or inhibited through current language and educational practices at a university that positions itself as internationally engaged and globally recognised. The project employed a multiple-case study design, examining eight academic programmes drawn from four different broad disciplinary groupings: social sciences, science, engineering, and management. Data were collected through individual, focus group and stimulated recall interviews, the latter using class observation recordings as a stimulus. The study revealed the ways in which language was exploited by both staff and students to convey particular meanings within an intercultural context. It was found that language choices, register and style were perceived as contributing to the pragmatic impact of either reinforcing barriers to or promoting intercultural competence development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-805
Number of pages16
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number6
Early online date6 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • Intercultural competence
  • higher education
  • internationalisation
  • language awareness
  • metaphor use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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