Intercultural communicative competence, language proficiency, and study abroad

2015 IJRSE – Volume 4 Issue 2


Guo, Lansing Hui*
Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom (


Numerous students are encouraged to study overseas in the hope of becoming competitive professionals in a global community. The two major benefits of studying abroad as commonly believed are foreign language acquisition and intercultural communicative competence development. To gain a deeper understanding of whether study abroad programmers have significantly positive impact on students’ linguistic gains and development of intercultural communicative competence, this paper reviews recent research on the development of language proficiency and intercultural communicative competence in the context of study abroad. It is found that study abroad duration is one of the key factors that influence the development of sojourners’ language acquisition and intercultural communicative competence. Students participated in one semester achieved the greatest development in terms of intercultural communicative competence. Regarding language learning, students’ speaking, listening, and reading skills could be significantly improved in both long and short term programmers. However, their writing skills need comparatively longer time to be substantially enhanced. Strategies that can be employed to maximize the students’ benefit from study abroad programmers are also identified.

Keywords: intercultural communication; intercultural sensitivity; language skills; second language acquisition; study abroad



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