Developing intercultural competence in post-secondary students participating in short-term study abroad programs
There has been a steady increase in the number of international students studying in Canada over the last decade. As international student numbers increase, new demands for more innovative and flexible programming, including short-term language programs, have emerged to accommodate them. Aiming to respond to the demand for short-term language and culture programs, Vancouver Island University (VIU), a post-secondary institution based in Western Canada, launched the English Language and Culture Program (ELCP) in 2012 with the goal of offering quality English as a second language (ESL) and cultural programming that enhances the development of intercultural competence for participants. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to determine the degree, if any, that study participants developed intercultural competence after participating in a 3-week ELCP course at VIU in the summer of 2017, and to explore the effect that English language skills had on the participants’ respective development of intercultural competence. Study results indicated that participants developed a small degree of intercultural competence, and that although English language levels did not significantly affect the degree of development, high English levels at the beginning of the ELCP course were a predictor of higher levels of intercultural competence at both the start and end of the course. Results also highlighted there is more that could be done not only in relation to researching short term English language study abroad programs but also in how such programs could be further developed to support an increase in intercultural competence of participants.