An integrating element of intercultural communication that involves movement and relationship, interpreting and creating meaning, and understanding the process of doing so. It involves not only the exchange of words but also an exchange of understanding between the people involved. It comes into play when the learner ‘self’ encounters and interacts with the ‘other’ (the target language speaker, the target language itself as text or experience); when the existing language code and cultural frame encounters a different code and frame. This experience impacts on the learner’s perspective and sense of identity and on their usual ways of communicating. Reciprocating involves conscious attention to the process: attention to the self (intraculturality) and to the likely impact of the self on the other person involved (interculturality). Things previously taken for granted are noticed in reference to new or different ways. Key elements of reciprocating include conscious attention, comparison, reflection and analysis:

  • recognition that both partners in an exchange are involved in the ‘effort of meaning’
  • willingness to work out what the other person means, the cultural and social context they are speaking from and the perspectives, which frame what they are saying
  • making necessary adjustments to own and each other’s input, orientation and stance that will help the exchange to be successful.