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The symbolic dimensions of the intercultural

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2010

Claire Kramsch*
Affiliation:
UC Berkeley, USAckramsch@berkeley.edu

Abstract

While communicative competence is characterized by the negotiation of intended meanings in authentic contexts of language use, intercultural competence has to do with far less negotiable discourse worlds, the ‘circulation of values and identities across cultures, the inversions, even inventions of meaning, often hidden behind a common illusion of effective communication’ (Kramsch, Lévy & Zarate 2008: 15). The self that is engaged in intercultural communication is a symbolic self that is constituted by symbolic systems like language as well as by systems of thought and their symbolic power. This symbolic self is the most sacred part of our personal and social identity; it demands for its well-being careful positioning, delicate facework, and the ability to frame and re-frame events. The symbolic dimension of intercultural competence calls for an approach to research and teaching that is discourse-based, historically grounded, aesthetically sensitive, and that takes into account the actual, the imagined and the virtual worlds in which we live. With the help of concrete examples from the real world and foreign language classrooms, the paper attempts to redefine the notion of third place (Kramsch 1993) as symbolic competence.

Type
Plenary Speeches
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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