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Intercultural Competence

Intercultural competence (ICC) is ranked fourth of the top ten work skills needed for the future according to Future Work Skills 2020, a study conducted by the Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute in 2011.

The literature to date has not settled on one particular definition of Intercultural Competence. However, Darla Deardorff, executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators based in Durham, North Carolina, developed a model that has persisted as a dominant model in the field. 

The resources provided on this page serve to assist language programs as they:

  1. respond to Glenn Levine’s (2014: 72) call to “fundamentally alter how we, the professionals, think about the ontology of foreign language teaching” and how it fits in the university’s educational goals, and
  2. change messaging about the value of language study by highlighting that the study of any world language, even without attaining high proficiency levels, is essential for achieving the university’s goals and obtaining transferable skills that are part of intercultural competence.

Deardorf’s (2006: 254) Model Summarized

A narrative version of (originally presented in the form of a more detailed pyramid) might read as:

Intercultural competence is a lifelong process that includes the development of the following areas to learn how to behave and communicate effectively and appropriately to achieve one’s goals to some degree:

  • Attitudes (respect and valuing of other cultures, openness, curiosity)
  • Knowledge (of self, culture, sociolinguistic issues)
  • Skills (listen, observe, interpret, analyze, evaluate, and relate)
  • Qualities (adaptability, flexibility, empathy and cultural decentering)

In an increasingly multicultural business environment, the modern business professional works with individuals from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Valuing the differences of others is what ultimately brings us all together and can be the secret to a successful, thriving workplace and a fair work culture.

At Huntington, we embrace and value the differences in others not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it is imperative for business success. Ensuring our colleagues have high intercultural competence leads to stronger relationships, higher performance and greater employee satisfaction"

Matthew Hall, Senior Vice President, Culture Development Director at Huntington Bank (OSU Class of ’93)

Jhumpa Lahiri: A New Spokesperson for ICC

New messaging in support of world language learning featured on NPR: Janice Aski talks about her interview with Jhumpa Lahiri

Learn more about Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Communicating across cultures requires commitment and concentration.
  • Expand your cultural repertoire by learning to understand different communication styles.
  • Understand communication patterns. Although culture affects differences in communication patterns, there are many exceptions within each group depending on class, age, education, experience, and personality.
  • Recognizing sources of conflict. When communications cause conflict, be aware that problems might have more to do with style or process than with content or motives.
  • Remember that communication is a process and that the process varies among cultures.
  • Use language that fosters trust and alliance.
  • Respect differences in the ways that people speak.
  • Be flexible and open-minded, as well as eager to learn news ways of doing things.
  • Be patient and observant.
  • Show your interest in learning and broadening your horizons.
  • Be open to demonstrate curiosity and asking questions.
  • Be aware that you represent your country to everyone you meet.