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Intercultural Communication Academy

Intercultural Communication Academy

July 1 - July 23, 2021

Applications are now open.

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Courses offered online

Courses offered online

Non-credit program

Non-credit program


Eligibility: Current 9th-11th grade students

International students

International students welcome

Financial Aid

Financial aid for select Philadelphia students

The Penn Summer Intercultural Communication Academy seeks to offer students a foundation for understanding the intricate and complex relationship between language, culture, communicative practices, and identity. Intercultural communication is fundamentally concerned with introducing students to the particular understanding of language, culture, and communication and the ways in which these relate to each other. The program focuses on key ideas to provide a basis for nuanced practices, reflections, and strategies that are associated with understanding an intercultural perspective to learning a language and engaging meaningfully and in context with speakers of other languages and cultures.

Based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Can-Do statements, students achieve various investigative and interactive objectives by the end of the course:

  • I can manage my non-verbal reactions and personal space when in a crowded environment such as standing in line
  • In my own and other cultures, I can explain how stereotypes influence a country’s products or marketing strategies
  • I can share my interpretations of a piece of art of music with someone else while respecting theirs
  • I can respond to a social media post in a culturally appropriate manner
  • In my own and other cultures, I can explain how a culture’s concept of time influences decisions in business, education, and social scheduling
  • In my own and other cultures, I can explain how globalized products impact society and individual lifestyles
  • I can collaborate in an online project to explain misconceptions underlying stereotypes

Through active learning students collaborate with their peers in activities that seek to promote nuanced reflection, keen observation, and transformative practices when engaging in intercultural communication.

To keep our students safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Penn Arts and Sciences staff is dedicated to making our high-quality programs available this summer—completely online.

If you attend a School District of Philadelphia public or charter high school, you may be eligible to attend a Penn Summer Academy free of charge with a Penn Summer Scholarship.


  • Guest lectures by Penn faculty and Philadelphia-area leaders in language, culture, and business
  • Experiential activities designed to encourage reflection and communication on course topics
  • Experienced language and culture instructor

See this program’s 2021 syllabus (PDF).


Betsy Kells

Program Director: Betsy Jane Kells

Betsy’s background is in second language acquisition, and she has taught both Italian as a foreign language at area universities and English as a second language at the English Language Programs at Penn. Betsy is very interested in building community in face-to-face and online classrooms, especially when it allows students to engage in intercultural exchanges and learn from one another. Betsy earned an MA in Italian studies and second language acquisition from Middlebury College, a BA in Italian studies from Temple University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate in from Penn's Graduate School of Education. She is currently the Technology Director at the Penn Language Center where she engages language faculty in digital pedagogy workshops in addition to offering technical support and guidance in course design and delivery.

Since 1989, Penn Language Center strengthens Penn’s language education and consistently supports the development of language professionals. In particular, Penn Language Center focuses on current trends in online instruction and teaching from within the National Standards.

The center remains committed to its structural flexibility enabling its staff to respond quickly to changing demands for language instruction in a variety of languages that are not offered within the typical programs of established departments.

Penn Language Center encourages dynamic and diversified language education with an emphasis on multilingual and transcultural competence that in turn imbue both the curriculum and the research effort of the academic community.