Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Sedique Popal

Second Advisor

Shabnam Koirala Azad

Third Advisor

Patricia Mitchell


With an increasing number of refugees and immigrants in European and American classrooms, teachers need to be prepared to meet their varied and complex needs. In particular, to help these diverse students succeed, teachers need to be interculturally competent, which is a combination of many skills including attitude, linguistic and cultural awareness, empathy, and flexibility. However, developing these skills not only takes theoretical knowledge but also hands-on training and practice. While many programs in school of education provide experiential practicum projects and online collaborations with diverse students, they have not expanded to the population in war zones. Moreover, a review of literature revealed a gap in research on how online tutoring might impact the intercultural competence development of pre-service ESL teachers. This study attempted to fill that gap by exploring how teaching English online to students in Afghanistan for six weeks impacted the intercultural competence of pre-service ESL teachers.

Ten pre-service ESL teachers participated in this study. Pre-interviews, post interviews, and five reflection journals during the six weeks comprised the qualitative data. The data were analyzed through the lens of the process model of intercultural competence framework by Deardorff (2006a).

The data, which was analyzed, categorized, verified, and interpreted, revealed that the preservice ESL teachers developed intercultural competence within a six-week period. While some pre-service ESL teachers expressed their initial discomfort about the unknowns of teaching online face to face, the dynamics of interacting with student of a different culture, fear of miscommunication, and grappling with their own assumptions, this discomfort diminished after a few sessions. In fact, some participants described this experience as “eye-opening.”

Therefore, this study concluded that becoming familiar with the people and practices of a diverse culture, in an online environment and for even a short duration, helped preservice teachers develop self-awareness, empathy, and linguistic knowledge, all factors that helped developed their intercultural competence. So it is recommended to integrate online teaching into practicum and international field projects to help build a new generation of interculturally competent and globally minded teachers.