Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Building intercultural competence in the language classroom

Aleidine J. Moeller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kristen Nugent, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Document Type Article


This article reviews and summarizes the literature on intercultural competence and intercultural communicative competence in order to better understand how these notions can impact the cultural component of a foreign language curriculum. Building on various models of intercultural communicative competence, examples of cultural tasks that promote intercultural communicative competence and represent best practices in language teaching and learning are presented and illustrated for classroom integration.

The linking of language and culture in the foreign language classroom has been the focus of much scholarly inquiry (Kramsch, 1993; Byram, 1989; Liddicoat, 2002, Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013). With increased globalization, migration and immigration there has been a growing recognition for the need for an intercultural focus in language education. While language proficiency lies at the “heart of language studies” (Standards for Foreign Language Learning, 2006, p. 3), it is no longer the only aim of language teaching and learning. The Standards (2006) define language goals in terms of the 5 C’s (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) designed to guide learners toward becoming viable contributors and participants in a linguistically and culturally diverse society.