CILS Twentieth Anniversary Celebrations

CILS hosted two events to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, celebrated in 2014.

 The 20th Anniversary Celebrations of the Centre for Intercultural Language Studies were made possible with the generous support of the following University of British Columbia contributors: Office of the President, Continuing Studies through the English Language Institute, Faculty of Education Office of Graduate Programs and Research, Department of Asian Studies, and Department of Language & Literacy Education.

On February 25, CILS Founding Director Dr. Jörg Roche gave an anniversary lecture “Intercultural Language Studies: Looking Back, Looking Forward.” In his lecture Dr. Roche outlined new directions for intercultural research in language in literacy and presented online digital platforms for language learning.


Interculturality is not restricted to curricula that no one reads. Rather, it remains the core issue of language teaching and learning and becomes highly operational even in allegedly abstract fields such as grammar. In my view, the alliance with Cognitive Linguistics leads us to an overdue paradigm shift in language pedagogy and, subsequently, in research.

Dr. Jörg Roche

Intercultural Communication has been a popular concept for many decades finding its way into such diverse fields as international business and education. Consequently, increased intercultural awareness has led to the development of various contrastive methods in intercultural training and curricular objectives vis-à-vis intercultural sensitivity and mediation. In the meantime, however, it has become clear that cultural dimensions and orientations require more semantic and pragmatic differentiation and cross-cultural validation. Furthermore, teaching intercultural competence to real students has proven to be much more difficult than (fuzzy) political or curricular proclamations suggest. The term ‘intercultural language studies’ was chosen, after some intense discussion, to reflect a departure from the overly general characterisation of linguistic processes represented by ‘intercultural communication’. It was also chosen to mark the crucial role of language in intercultural encounters, both as a means to represent and to construct mental models. During the past 20 years of the existence of CILS, this specific approach to interculturality has led to a number of research projects as well as applications in teaching, curriculum design and material development which often involved electronic media. We propose introducing cognitive linguistics into a “cognitive language pedagogy” that promises to revitalize intercultural language studies and intercultural language teaching and result in both stronger theoretical foundations and new practical applications. The presentation discusses the theoretical implications, practical applications and future opportunities for this enhanced approach to intercultural language studies.
CILS Twenthieth Anniversary Lecture Feb 25 2014

Author’s biographical note: Dr. JÖRG MATTHIAS ROCHE is Professor at the Institute of German as a Foreign

Language and Director of the Multimedia Research and Development Lab as well as the International Research Centre Chamisso-Literature at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, München, Germany. He also holds an adjunct position at the German Jordanian University, Amman, Jordan. He works in the areas of intercultural

communication, second language acquisition, second language didactics and computerenhanced language learning and teaching. During his time at the University of British Columbia, he became the founding Director of its Centre for Intercultural Language Studies.

Roche’s latest books include Mehrsprachigkeitstheorie on multilingualism (Gunter Narr Verlag 2013), Focus on Handlung, a study of a task-based approach to language learning (Lit-Verlag 2012, with J. Reher and M. Simic), Handbuch Mediendidaktik –Fremdsprachen, a handbook on computer-enhanced language learning (hueber 2008), the introduction to second language acquisition and teaching Fremdsprachenerwerb –

Fremdsprachendidaktik (UTB 2005, 2008, 2013 in press), and several edited books on transcultural communication as well as media-based learning and teaching. A contribution to the Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics entitled Language Acquisition and Pedagogy is in press (ed. Taylor, John/Littlemore, Jeanette). Jörg Roche has also authored and produced numerous CD-ROMs and online programs for the teaching and learning of various languages including German, English, Japanese, French and Brazilian.


On February 26, 2014 Alden Habacon Director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development at UBC chaired CILS anniversary roundtable: “The Future of Intercultural Engagement in Canadian Higher Education.”

The panelists included:
Mackie Chase, UBC Centre for Intercultural Communication (CIC);
Jan Hare, Professor, Indigenous Education in Teacher Education, UBC;
Sarah Ling, Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies, and BC author;
Nancy Langton, Associate Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business, Africa Initiative;
Jörg Roche, Professor, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Germany;
Mark Vessey, Professor and Principal, Green College, UBC