20 SES 04, Migrant Children Social Settings and Development of Global Competencies for Graduate Students and Intercultural Citizenship
Through acquiring an understanding of what students believe to lead to intercultural citizenship, we can become better prepared in educating our students to become intercultural citizens. Of particular interest is whether students believe foreign language plays an important role in becoming an intercultural citizen. The current study represents a preliminary look at students’ perspectives of global/intercultural citizenship in two countries: Hungary and the United States of America. Both the development of intercultural competence and foreign language education play a role in both Hungary and the United States, although these countries reflect important linguistic, economic and political differences which could have an effect on the students’ attitude to foreign language education and global citizenship. For example, in each country the school systems endorse the learning of foreign languages. While in Hungary the focus is having students learn more than one foreign language (see National Core Curriculum, 2012), in the United States secondary students primarily learn one foreign language during their four years of high school. Our overall research question is, “To what extent does university students’ perception of global citizenship and the importance of language differ in Hungary and in the United States?”
A survey with qualitative and quantitative questions was developed based on ideas from theoretical works of Dower (2008) and Logsdon and Wood (2005). During the spring semester of the 2012-2013 academic year, we obtained a convenience sample of 127 university students in Hungary and 81 in the United States. Of the 208, 66.2% were female and 85.5% were born between 1990 and 1994. While 97.6% grew up speaking Hungarian in Hungary, 74.0% of these students indicated that they had at least an intermediate understanding of English. In contrast, 87.7% of the students from the United States grew up speaking English, and 28.4% reported at least an intermediate level of understanding Spanish, the second most spoken language in that country.
About 95% of respondents reported that they speak another foreign language, the majority speaking either English (89%) and/or German (63.8%). A number of respondents from Hungary reported speaking more than one foreign language, with 26% reported speaking three foreign languages, and 18.1% reported speaking four foreign languages. In addition to Hungarian, 11 languages such as Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish were reported by students in the Hungarian sample. In the United States, 67 (82.7%) reported that they speak another foreign language with the majority – 59.3% (48) – speaking Spanish at the elementary (30.9%) level. The range of languages mentioned by respondents in the United States was broader than in Hungary and included Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Ebonics, Hebrew, Japanese, Mandarin, Serbian, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
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