Intercultural Communicative Competence Through the Lens of Semio-Ethnography: Research on Turkish International Graduate Students in the US Socio-Semiotic World
KeywordsIntercultural Communicative Competence
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching
AdvisorWaugh, Linda R.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 02-May-2018
AbstractThe increasing contact among humans across the globe has shifted cultural, political, ecological, economic, and technological realities and boundaries that shape the shrinking world of the twenty-first century (Chen & Starosta, 2008; Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009). With this increasing contact and shift, today’s world is becoming semiopragmatically and socio-semiopragmatically more heterogeneous (Zuengler & Cole, 2005). This heterogeneity creates "zones of contact" (Pratt, 1991) which engender "sites of struggle" (Norton, 2000) for people from different socio-semiotic backgrounds. In these zones and sites, people encounter affective, cognitive, and behavioral challenges when communicating social and cultural meanings through the semiotic resources available to them (Halliday, 1978; Hodge & Kress, 1988; Hymes, 1962, 1964, 1972; Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008; Waugh, 1981, 1984). The reasons for these challenges basically have their roots in the socioculturally contexted nature of those semiotic resources that have particular semiotic potentials or affordances within or across communities of practice (Gibson, 1979; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Liddicoat, 2009; van Leeuwen, 2004).Based on these underpinnings, the current study defines the concept of communication through the lens of social semiotics and ethnography of communication–the combination of which is referred to as semio-ethnography in this research. The conceptualization of communication through semio-ethnography leads to a reformulation of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) regarding the three different and yet intertwined aspects of ICC, as suggested by Chen and Starosta (1998, 2000, 2008): affective (intercultural sensitivity), cognitive (intercultural awareness), and behavioral (intercultural adroitness). With this reformulation, this study proposes an alternative framework of ICC called the "Semio-Ethnographic Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence (SEMICC)". In the light of this alternative model, this research examines the ICC of Turkish international graduate students in the United States of America through the triangulation of an intercultural sensitivity scale (ISS), an oral discourse completion test (DCT), and semi-structured interviews. With this particular aim in mind, the obtained data are both quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. The findings indicate that the semio-ethnographic approach to communication can serve effectively to understand how communication takes place on the affective, cognitive, and behavioral planes in a given socio-semiotic world. Within the realm of this approach to communication, the findings show that intercultural sensitivity constitutes an important aspect of ICC because L2 learners' active desire and motivation to understand, respect, and acknowledge diversities or differences across socio-semiotic worlds can either promote or hinder the development of their ICC. The qualitative and quantitative results reveal that intercultural awareness establishes the ground for L2 learners' awareness of their own and others' socio-semiotic worlds because they need to detect the diversities among these socio-semiotic worlds and the sources of challenges to effective and appropriate navigation in the target socio-semiotic context. The findings also show that intercultural adroitness has equal importance in the crux of ICC because L2 learners need to use the semiotic resources (e.g., language, kinesics, proxemics, chronemics, and the like) available in in the target socio-semiotic world effectively and appropriately in order to communicate social and cultural meanings. Given these findings, this dissertation aims to enrich the ICC literature by offering various theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical implications and directions for future research and applications.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching