Olena Zelikovska has been awarded a micro grant for international travel, funded by the Association for Business Communication through the Center for Intercultural Dialogue. The following is her description of herself and the project. You can also read the main article describing all award winners.
Dr. Olena Zelikovska is an Associate Professor in the Department of English for Economic Specialties at the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine (NULESU). For the last 10 years she has been working as a focal point in developing curriculum of “Business English” and ‘Translation of Commercial Correspondence and Business Communication’ for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in Economics, Management of International Affairs and Linguistics as well as in supervising students’ research projects with the focus on intercultural communication issues.
In 2010, Zelikovska defended the thesis: ‘Developing intercultural competence in the students of higher economic educational institutions’ (adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine). She has been chairing the Student’s Research Group “Business Environment and Intercultural Communication” since 2011.
Zelikovska has been constantly seeking for international cooperation to provide the students with valuable practical experience. She is interested in project-based programs designed to connect American and Ukrainian students in a distance learning opportunity that is grounded in intercultural dialogue and exchange.
Project background: The growing importance of English as an instrument of international communication on the global scale and its increased use in Ukraine has triggered research about improved methods to develop university students’ intercultural competence (ICC). This has promoted changes in both the teaching and learning process. However lack of students’ cross-cultural communication experience has resulted in low sensitivity of intercultural issues. The initial discussion has shown that the NULESU students majoring in Management of International Affairs or in Linguistics have very little idea about intercultural communication (IC). For instance, they are unaware of the privacy zone character of the American culture and can easily use the patterns of direct language imposing their ideas and feelings on the interlocutor as they commonly do in Ukrainian culture with higher power distance and no privacy space. Moreover English classroom communicative behavior of the majority of faculty staff unfortunately does not often correlate with such behavior of their American colleagues. That is why the traditional teaching practice does not achieve the expected results on developing ICC.
The key to the solution may be the application of the 3-component intercultural development model that provides knowledge (cognitive element of the model), foster awareness (affective element of the model) and develop skills (behavioral element of the model). The proposed project seeks to assess the interrelated issues: How to fill each component of the model with the intercultural communication content tailored to the particular needs of the individual student? How do these components correlate with each other? What issues should be submitted for Student’s Research Group? How to launch distant projects between American and Ukrainian students to enrich each other with learning by experience? The development of classroom communicative behavior of the department staff is the issue of special importance. The project will provide the unique opportunity for the grant holder to study all these processes as a system at the Californian State University by classroom observation, students and faculty staff surveying and discussions with further analysis of the data collected. The ultimate goal of the research is to empower Ukrainian students with intercultural awareness enabling them to develop empathy, tolerance and mutual understanding with their American peers.