Real Examples of ICC Best Practices in the EMI Classroom

Denise McAllister- Wylie, Irena Vodopija Krstanović

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


Intercultural communicative competence (ICC) plays a critical role in the multilingual multicultural learning space (MMLS). However, it is widely assumed that effective ICC will take place effortlessly through the language of instruction and contact with students from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Higher education teachers, who are generally of the understanding that their role is to teach only content, are often unaware of ICC or of how to apply it in pedagogical practice. Given the current position of ICC in the MMLS, and the paucity of research in the field, this study aims to fill the gap by examining ICC in the English medium instruction (EMI) classroom, identifying potentially missed opportunities, and offering examples of ICC best practices. The data for this qualitative study were collected through classroom observation of thirty EMI classes taught by thirty non-native English-speaking teachers at five European universities. Examples of best practice were identified using an observational schedule comprising twenty categories in two areas, course design and teaching methods.
Based on the analysis of course design, we identified useful examples of: a) course accessibility, b) engaging activities for students, c) appropriate guidance of students, d) attention to students’ language proficiency, e) tasks which foster inclusivity, f) sufficient and suitable introduction of examples and case studies, g) teacher anticipation of possible problems with activities, and h) ICC appropriate topics. We also observed how teachers employ effective teaching methods to: a) provide a clear context and adapt teaching methods accordingly, b) respond to the specific needs of the multilingual/multicultural classroom, c) remain observant of cultural differences, d) adjust their language and adapt to different accents, e) explain idiomatic expressions and motivate students to be language aware, f) create safe environments, g) overcome misunderstandings, h) provide appropriate answers, feedback, criticism and praise, and i) reassure struggling students.
This presentation describes good aspects of teaching practice, which can foster ICC in EMI, and any MMLS. It supports effective learning for students of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds by raising teachers’ awareness of opportunities to attend to the ICC requirements of the MMLS and providing guidance on careful curriculum design and course delivery.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2022
EventSeventh Annual Spring Research Seminar: Rising up to new challenges in multilingual education - Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 01 Apr 2022 → …


ConferenceSeventh Annual Spring Research Seminar
Period01/04/2022 → …


  • Intercultural Communication
  • Internationalisation in Higher Education
  • International Classroom
  • English Medium Instruction
  • Class Observation
  • Multicultural Interaction
  • Pedagogy


Dive into the research topics of 'Real Examples of ICC Best Practices in the EMI Classroom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this