IPIC Research Brief

By Ayşenur Sağdıç

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Are you a foreign language instructor, language program administrator, or a language researcher? This brief highlights IPIC’s key implications for second language learning, teaching, and assessment.

This research brief can also be viewed and downloaded as a pdf here.

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Developed as a partnership with the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) at the University of Oregon, the Intercultural Pragmatic Interactional Competence (IPIC) measure assesses second and foreign language learners’ pragmatic, interactional, and intercultural competence. The IPIC framework is designed as a synthesis of skills deemed most critical for learning interventions and the development of assessment measures: knowledge, analysis, subjectivity, and awareness. Using digital simulations and authentic scenarios with varying degrees of social and individual factors, IPIC reflects the ​individualized and consequential nature of the multilingual and multicultural interactions (Sykes, 2016; Sykes, Malone, Forrest & Sağdıç, in press). Learners’ performance will be measured based on skills in each domain and will align with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Languages (NCSSFL) Can-Do statements.

Below, we present major findings from several studies on assessing second and foreign language learners’ intercultural, pragmatic, and interactional competence in various languages.

What does it mean?

  • Intercultural competence refers to the ability to communicate effectively in intercultural interactions while engaging with multiple identities and roles (Byram, 1997).
  • Pragmatic competence is the ability to interpret people’s intended meanings and to communicate meanings that are appropriate for specific purposes or goals (Yule, 1996).
  • Interactional competence involves utilizing successful interactional practices to sustain co-constructed interaction (Hall, 1995).


  • Pragmatic, intercultural, and interactional competences are essential for successful multilingual and multicultural interactions, however, assessing these set of skills in second language classrooms is largely ignored (Liu, 2006; Roever, Fraser, & Elder, 2014).
  • Digital simulations allow (a) engaging in extended sequences of turns; (b) establishing situational context via graphical backgrounds; (c) virtual characters who act as standardized interlocutors; (d) progressing along multiple interactional pathways depending upon the individual choices; (e) including non-verbal actions as responses; (f) stopping the interaction to elicit learner self-reflections; and finally (g) collecting continuous data about learners’ behaviors (Taguchi & Sykes, 2013).
  • Intercultural, pragmatic, and interactional norms are negotiated and co-constructed in interactions and learners may resist native speakers’ norms, displaying subjectivity (Davis, 2007; Ishihara & Tarone, 2009).

So What?

Language Researchers

IPIC can be used to measure language learners’ intercultural, pragmatic and interactional competence in a reliable and valid manner.

Language Instructors

IPIC can support the diagnosis of intercultural, pragmatic, and interactional needs of learners, provide feedback, and monitor learners’ progress.

Also read…

Roever, C., Fraser, C., & Elder, C. (2014). Testing ESL sociopragmatics: Development and validation of a web-based test battery. Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.

Ross, S., & Kasper, G. (Eds.). (2013). Assessing second language pragmatics. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Taguchi, N., & Roever, C. (2017). Second language pragmatics. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.

Taguchi, N. & Sykes, J. (Eds.). (2013). Technology in interlanguage pragmatics research and teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.


Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Davis, M. J. (2007). Resistance to L2 pragmatics in the Australian ESL context. Language Learning, 57, 611-649.

Hall, J. K. (1995). “Aw, man, where you goin’?”: Classroom interaction and the development of L2 interactional competence. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 6, 37-62.

Liu, J. (2006). Measuring interlanguage pragmatic knowledge of EFL learners. Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.

Ishihara, N., & Tarone, E. (2009). Subjectivity and pragmatic choice in L2 Japanese: Emulating and resisting pragmatic norms. In N. Taguchi (Ed.), Pragmatic competence: Mouton series in pragmatics: 5 (pp. 101-128). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Sykes, J. (2016). Technologies for teaching and learning intercultural competence and interlanguage pragmatics. In S. Sauro & C. Chapelle (Eds.), Handbook of technology and second language teaching and learning (pp. 119–133). New York: Wiley.

Sykes, J., Malone, M., Forrest, L., & Sağdıç, A. (in press). Comprehensive framework for assessing intercultural pragmatic competence: Knowledge, analysis, subjectivity, and awareness. In O. Kang and A. Kermad (Eds.). Transdisciplinary innovations for communicative success.

Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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