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Time and Intercultural Competence

  • Time and Intercultural Competence

The following blog post was written by Rostam Pooladi-Darvish, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement (CEIIA). This blog post is part of our Conference Reflection blog series. Rostam attended the Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) conference this past October.

At the ATESL 2017 Conference, I attended the session Pedagogical Tasks to Promote Intercultural Competence: Exploration and Exemplars delivered by Greg Ogilvie, and Marie-Helene Lyle, and Jean Boch. 

In this session, the speakers gave examples of how they promoted intercultural competence in the FSL (French as a Second Language) class. In doing so, the speakers went over our cultural differences in understanding time, stereotyping, holding multiple perspectives, family rituals, power distances, gender roles and tolerance of uncertainty.

We all have our own notion of time and what is or not the appropriate time for various occasions. This is mostly ingrained in us through our culture. We also understand through exploring this topic that many misunderstandings may arise as a result of our unique understanding of time.

For the purposes of this blog, I’ll discuss some questions that our students can answer regarding their concept of time which can further be analyzed and taken up by the instructor:

  1. How do you make sense of time? How do you refer to past and future times?
  2. How do you prioritize time?
  3. What do you view as a waste of time?
  4. What are some expressions in your language that pertain to time? e.g. time is money
  5. Do you see time as a linear event or is your concept of time cyclical with no defined beginning or end?
  6. Are the outcomes of a project and quality of performance more important than keeping a deadline or vice-versa?
  7. What are some socio-economic values attached to time?

Once the above questions are discussed and analyzed, activities can be done that are related to time such as learning idiomatic expressions related to time. Scenarios can also be given to learners where they would have to prioritize. Finally, the questions below can be used to informally assess understanding of concepts of time.

  1. Is one view of time superior to others?
  2. Why do people of different cultures perceive time differently?
  3. Why is it important to understand that people hold different notions of time?