Preservice Teachers’ Intercultural Competence: A Comparative Study of Teachers in Switzerland and Turkey

*Dr. Kocaeli University, Kocaeli, Turkey.
**Dr.University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.


Problem Statement: Every society consists of individuals different in terms of physical, psychological, and sociocultural characteristics. Differentiation in today’s societies has increased due to globalization, intensified immigration, advancements in communication technologies, and the recent increase in value of subcultures within the dominant culture. Consequently, human communities that maintain different characteristics together have brought about the concept of multicultural societies. Within these societies, teachers play the principle role in maintaining the multicultural environment and managing its processes. Since teachers’ successful implementation of these tasks depends on their level of intercultural competence, today’s teachers should develop their intercultural competence.

Purpose of Study: The present study aims to determine the intercultural competence levels of preservice teachers from Switzerland and Turkey.

Methods: A descriptive survey model was used as the chief research approach. The study sample comprised 185 preservice teachers, 84 of whom were from Switzerland and 101 of whom were from Turkey. Data were collected by means of the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire and a personal information form.

Findings and Results: The intercultural competence levels of preservice teachers from Switzerland and Turkey were found to be middling. Preservice teachers perceived themselves to be the most competent in the dimension of ‘cultural empathy,’ which was followed by ‘openmindedness,’ ‘social initiative,’ ‘flexibility,’ and ‘emotional stability,’ respectively. The variable of preservice teachers’ university showed significant difference regarding the self-perception of intercultural competence. By culture, results revealed that preservice teachers from Switzerland had higher intercultural competence than those from Turkey, though such competence did not show significant differences according to gender and department.

Conclusions and Recommendations: The variable of nationality significant differed in preservice teachers’ perceptions of intercultural competence. In Switzerland, whose preservice teachers’ perceptions of such competence were higher, teacher training curricula include courses on multiculturalism and intercultural education, while in Turkey such courses are not offered even as electives. Understanding multiculturalism necessitates the renewal of preservice and in-service teacher training programs. Teacher training should align with international standards and topics, and include a systematic approach to promote intercultural competence.

Keywords: Intercultural competence, preservice teachers, intercultural education, multiculturalism.