Development of Critical Intercultural Communicative Competence and Employability in Work Abroad Programs

A UK Perspective

Authored by: Sandra Y. López-Rocha

The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138192393
eBook ISBN: 9781315639970
Adobe ISBN:


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Student immersion in a different country during the required Year Abroad (YA) in Modern Languages degrees in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) represents an opportunity for program participants to expand their linguistic competence and develop key intercultural skills. Moreover, the experience of living abroad significantly broadens the students’ perspectives in terms of various economical, sociopolitical, and cultural issues. The ability for students to utilize the language(s) they learn as part of their degree provides a myriad of benefits for those who study or work abroad. In the case of the latter, it is possible to identify a new dimension of positive attributes that increase the students’ work-readiness, encompassing not only Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) but also transferable skills associated with planning and organizing, time management, verbal and written communication, tolerance, negotiating and persuading, initiative, and independence, among other things. The European Commission (EC, 2015) highlighted these skills as a priority and part of the expected outcomes of the implementation plan for 2016. Based on the importance attributed to these specific skills, it is necessary to understand, first, how the experience of working abroad, as part of degree requirements, relates to the development of ICC and employability skills. Second, it is crucial to identify the ways in which HEIs may further support students in developing those skills and consequently reaping concrete benefits from their experiences abroad that provide a competitive edge in the job market after graduation.

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