Developing an intercultural English curriculum of university level in Taiwan
The rationale of this thesis stems from the argument that intercultural skills and knowledge are indispensable to the process of internationalizing Higher Education in Taiwan, which is a primary goal set by the Taiwanese government. This thesis seeks to investigate how the integration of cultural studies with English as a Foreign Language syllabus can provide Taiwanese university students with opportunities to enter an ‘inter’ space where they cross linguistic and cultural boundaries, and where they are able to engage in cross cultural dialogue. It presents both theoretical and practical components of a potential culturally based university English course. The theoretical concept of the “third space”, as described by Bhabha and Kramsch and others, is a crucial dimension in the intercultural classroom in which students can reinterpret Otherness and their own culture. This thesis also explores how a cultural syllabus that includes essential elements of cultural studies and that utilizes generally available materials and topics, with appropriate instructional approaches, can be interwoven into the English language classroom and provide students with opportunities to critically voice their own opinions. Data were collected during a five-month study among first year university students in a medical university in Taiwan. Quantitative and qualitative data together provide evidence to determine a necessity for intercultural competence in the language classroom, and possible ways it can be developed or enhanced. The evidence indicates that given appropriate opportunities, students are willing to deepen their sociocultural knowledge of Self and Other and at the same time improve their language skills. This thesis offers a perspective that differs from the traditional four skills English education that presently dominates education in Taiwan. It concludes by recommending including an intercultural syllabus in EFL classrooms at the tertiary level and with implications for university and national educational policies and practices, and includes recommendations for future research.