Eltabber of the month: Leo Waters

How do you incorporate intercultural competence in your language classes?

For me, intercultural competence is a core skill these days, especially when people have to work in international teams. I like to introduce specific intercultural critical incidents and use this as a basis for discussion. What happened, why did it happen and what could have been done to prevent it? Equally important, given the incident has happened, what can be done to rectify the situation, if anything.

Do you have a favourite activity to encourage intercultural competence?

Yes. The key to intercultural competence is the actual language you use to interact with your partners, and what effect it has on them. There’s a nice activity where you cut out chunks of inappropriate language (typical flash points especially in a German context where language tends to be quite direct), and then you have to match this with the language that is more appropriate for the situation. Students move around the room with their language card and see if they can find the ‘match’.

I believe you teach intercultural competence to university students, what are some of the challenges these classes present?

I don’t find these classes particularly challenging, but one of the main issues, especially with international students from Asia, is to get them to contribute/talk without being specifically asked. Often they are used to just listening and taking notes, rather than actively contributing in class. Thus, I have to encourage them, and shyer students to contribute in the class discussions without direct prompts. That’s tricky!

Due to globalisation and study abroad programmes, it could be said that university students are very interculturally competent. Would you agree?

Many of them are, as they’ve had the experience abroad and found out the hard way as to what can go wrong. Sharing their experiences in the classes is very valuable and highlights many of the difficulties people have when interacting in an intercultural environment. It’s amazing how ingrained our own cultural programming is and how that can cause difficulties when interacting outside your cultural norms.

What aspect of your professional career are you most proud of?

Passing the DELTA in 2006. That was very tough and intensive!

How long have you been an Eltabb member and why did you first join?

I’ve been an ELTABB member since 2001, and I originally joined to enhance my prospects of getting work.

What did you learn from your time on the Eltabb board?

It was really interesting to see the inner workings of an association, and the importance of the commitment of the people within it to make sure it ran smoothly.

I’ve heard you are quite the backgammon player! When did you start competing and how did you get in to it?</p>

I got the backgammon bug when I was living and working in Greece back in the late 1990’s. I played some of the local hotshots, and managed through luck rather than skill to prevail! Since then, I’ve been a student of the game and have competed in many of the main tournaments around the world. The highlight was winning the World Team Championships (playing for the UK) in Tbilisi, Georgia.

If you could go back and start your teaching career again, what would you do differently?

I don’t think I’d do anything differently. The experiences I’ve had over that time, good and bad, have contributed significantly to the person I am today – and I’m happy with that!

Who would like to nominate as Eltabber of the month and what question would you like to ask them?

I’d like to nominate the newest Eltabb member!

Edited by Mandy Welfare