Raising Intercultural Competence among Young Adults through Extensive Reading

Burcin Kagitci Yildiz,Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey; ID CLEaR2017-451; Abstract: Due to the globalisation of the world, it is becoming more and more important to know more about differences in cultures, religions and beliefs in order to be a part of this new ‘global village’; therefore, it is imperative that everyone play their role in contributing to the tolerance and appreciation towards differences. In this respect, teachers have an undeniable role as they are responsible for not only giving formal education to their students, but also helping with their personal and sociocultural development. In countries where there are not many individuals coming from diverse backgrounds, it can be even harder to be exposed to different cultures. The present study aimed to find out Turkish EFL students’ level of intercultural awareness and their perceptions about different cultures and beliefs, and with a six-week experimental extensive reading practice, it aimed to raise students’ intercultural competence. The study was conducted with 36 EFL learners with Beginner level of English proficiency, who were asked to read selected children’s books containing information about different religions and cultures, and the students’ perceptions were gathered through interviews and questionnaires. The results showed that the students are willing to increase their intercultural awareness, but they need more exposure and guidance to achieve this. In order to provide this diverse atmosphere, children’s books should be more commonly utilised in language classrooms because of the simplicity of the language and the length of the stories, which can be an important step towards learning, accepting and welcoming diversity in their lives.

Key words: intercultural competence, extensive reading, children’s books, EFL