Intercultural communicative competence is the ability to perceive cultures and their given elements including ones culture and it involves the use of this knowledge to interact and communicate with persons from the other cultures. Gestures and other several aspects of communication vary from one culture to another (Chun, 2011). This ability is an important element in the field of education especially for teachers involved in educating international students. It has been established that communication between persons of different cultures will not yield the desired results unless the two parties participating in the communication understood the others culture (Shiri, 2015). Therefore, the focus culture for this paper is Arabic where it aims at studying the role that intercultural communicative competence plays for learners of Arabic as a second language.
The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a department in the Department of Defense (DoD) that focuses on providing scientific and cultural advice and instructions to the DoD as well as other federal agencies across the world. Globalization is not a new topic, and it refers to the process of interaction and integration among people from different nations and it is usually aided by information technology (IT) (Shiri, 2015). There is increased globalization where individuals from across the world are sharing and communicating in their languages through social media and networks. Among the languages that are coming to play include Arabic, and so it is of keen interest that the degree to which the culture is understood. This is only made possible through the use of intercultural communicative competence ability. It will be helpful in meeting the objective of this study which is to understand the role of intercultural communicative competence for learners of Arabic (Sumi & Sumi, 2015).
The study included several variables, and they were partitioned as mainly dependent and independent variables. The one whose value is affected by other variables, in particular by the independent variables which are usually unaffected in the study, is known as the dependent variable. The primary dependent variable includes How often is the interaction with the Arab origin, Ever visited or lived in Arab world, Familiarization to some Arabic words before enrollment, and Relationship with the Arab origin. The primary independent variables in this study were gender and age. The dependent and independent variables are the key to establishing associations that are essential in the useful deductions in research. Through the use of tests, this associations or significant relationships assist in testing the null hypothesis of the research.
For teachers and laymen, cultural competence is a crucial element for those learning Arabic and as a result, teachers have combined the learning of culture in the Arabic language classes (Rehman, 2014). Learning Arabic language involves elements like syntactic ability, oral capability, dialect proficiency and a changed perception of the society. As a result of the increased need for intercultural communicative competence, teachers have sought to create many paths for their students to gain it, especially for those interested in Arab culture (Eldin, 2015). Some ways include the concept-based instruction where students are equipped with strategies primarily for the pragmatic effect of the Arabic utterances. In other words, they learn to speak as if they are native speakers of the Arabic language. Strategies in the concept-based instruction include verbalization, materialization, and role-playing of the cultural concepts (Chun, 2011).
The research design was primarily a cross-sectional study design. A cross-sectional analysis is also known as a transversal study and it is one that involves the collection of data at a point in time as opposed to the longitudinal studies that involves collecting data repeatedly from the participants for a length of time. The primary instrument for data collection is a consolidated questionnaire that covers the intricate elements of the problem under study. Examples of items covered by the survey include the exposure to the Arab culture before enrollment at the education center, opinions about the Arab culture and its similarity to the American culture. The selection of the members of the sample was based on specific criteria. It was defined that the members of the sample have to be studying at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), enrolled in the Arabic Language Program and English must be their first language.
It is an essential process for any study and it usually follows data collection. It is the process of inspecting and transforming data pointing out some of the various aspects of the data that could be used to make conclusions and suggestions and even support the decision-making process. In this study, data was entered and manipulated using the SPSS software version 20. Several tests were used in appraising the various correlations between the dependent and independent variables in the study. The primary tests in this research were regression and correlation analysis which aimed to investigate existing relationships between the dependent and independent variables. Also, the ANOVA, MANOVA, and ANCOVA tables were implemented in the study to assess variance and covariance of the set of variables pointing out the strengths of the relationships between the variable set (Holmes & ONeill, 2012).
The descriptive statistics for the 25 participants show that 48% were males and 52% females. The age group that was populous was that 19-21 years with a steep of 48%. The descriptive statistics also depict significant values concerning the associations of data.
Following the regression analysis of the independent variable gender and the dependent variable Arabian relationships, the value of R was 0.191 and R2 was 0.037. The low R-value asserts that there is a weak correlation between the variables, and the dependent variable can only explain 3.7% of the independent variable.
There was an existing relationship between the age group of the participants and whether they had visited or lived in the Arab world. Those in the age group of 16-18 years had visited the Arab world while majority of those in the 19-21 years have not. Also, in the 22-25 age group, most of them had not visited the Arab world but still posted the same number as the over 25 years age group for those who had visited the Arab world.
The relationship between the independent variable age and the dependent variable perception of the Arab culture was statistically significant. None of those in the 19-21 age group had a positive perception of the Arab culture while those who showed positive perception were in the over 25 age group. A neutral perception was depicted amongst the members of the age group 22-25 years while none in the 16-18 years had a neutral perception concerning the Arab culture.
A cross tabulation of gender, visited or lived in Arab and the perception of the Arab culture variables pointed out that gender is an important contributor to the overall perception of the culture. Of those with positive perception and visited the Arab world, 60% were females and the 40% were males. Those with a negative perception and did not visit the Arab world were only women (100%). Those with a neutral perception and still visited the Arab world were only males (100%).
Following the ANOVA test between the interaction level of the participants and whether they knew the Arabic language, it was deduced that there was no significant difference between the group means. This is confirmed by the significant value of 0.629 which is greater than 0.05. The one-way ANOVA test, however, asserts that there is a probability of 62.9% that an individual who has interacted with members of the Arabic culture knows the language.
In the second section, the participants were to answer some questions regarding the Arab world and a tabulation of the results show that most of the participants did not know the accurate answer. Cross-tabulating the results with gender pointed out that the males were usually the ones who selected the I dont know option. In a cross tabulation of the questions with the independent variable age group depicts that those over 25 years old were the ones who showed the highest level of accuracy in their answers. Also, the age group of 16-18 years depicted elevated levels of knowledge pertaining the Arab culture and countries. Those in the 16-18 years age group usually chose the I dont know option in the questionnaire. The other two age groups also showed the same behavior with the highest concentration in the I dont know category. The highest levels of inaccuracy were among the 19-21 and the 22-25 years age groups.
The ANCOVA test is an extension of the ANOVA, which includes a covariate. Following the ANCOVA test, the test of between-subjects effects table points out that there is no statistically significant difference in the variable means. It is reinforced by the significant value of 0.167 which is greater than 0.05.
The MANOVA (Multivariate analysis of variance) test is also another extension of the ANOVA test which is employed when there is more than one dependent variable (Bernstein, 2012). Considering this data, there is more than one dependent variable and the MANOVA test is necessary. It can be used to determine whether are differences between groups that are independent on more than one continuous dependent variable (Chatfied & Collins, 2013). The MANOVA test, focusing on the Wilks Lambda statistic, the significant value was 0.377 which is greater than 0.05. This means that there is no significant interaction between the two dependent variables; perception of Arab culture and did you know Arab. This provides evidence that supports the results obtained from the ANOVA test where the means of the dependent variables do not change significantly.
Following the results of the statistical tests, the associations between the variables show the least significance. The ANOVA, MANOVA and ANCOVA tests show that the means have no difference that is statistically significant. The significant values obtained via the SPSS software are all greater than the confidence interval implying that they are of little consequence. Pertaining the hypothesis of this research study, the intercultural communicative competence of those students at DFL plays little or no role in their learning of the Arabic language.
Bernstein, I. H. (2012). Applied multivariate analysis. Springer Science & Business Media.
Chatfied, C., & Collins, A. J. (2013). Introduction to multivariate analysis. Springer.
Chun, D. M. (2011). Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence through Online Exchanges. CALICO Journal, 28(2), 392-419. doi:10.11139/cj.28.2.392-419.
Eldin, A. A. (2015). Teaching Culture in the Classroom to Arabic Language Students. International Education Studies, 8(2). doi:10.5539/ies.v8n2p113.
Holmes, P., & ONeill, G. (2012). Developing and evaluating intercultural competence: Ethnographies of intercultural encounters. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36(5), 707-718.
Rehman, M. S. (2014). Developing intercultural communicative competence in the Arabic curriculum: a survey of learners at beginner level (Doctoral dissertation).
Shiri, S. (2015). Intercultural Communicative Competence Development During and After Language Study Abroad: Insights from Arabic. Foreign Language Annals, 48(4), 541-569. doi:10.1111/flan.12162
Sumi, K., & Sumi, A. M. (2015). Development of the Interest in Arabic Culture Scale (IACS): A Measure of Interest in Arabic Culture for Students Learning Arabic in Japanese Universities. Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy, 5(3), 1.
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