Course Director and Lecturer: Dr. Constanza Tolosa
Liddicoat, A. & Scarino, A. (2013). Intercultural language teaching and learning. New York, NY: Wiley Blackwell. [Chapter 2: Languages, Cultures, and the Intercultural. pp 11-30]
Key concepts relevant to intercultural communicative language learning
Intercultural language teaching places the need to communicate in the first place and seeks to teach culture in a way which develops intercultural communicative skills at the same time as developing language skills. This is an approach to the teaching of culture which sees language and culture as intimately linked and which recognises that culture is always present when we use language.
Intercultural Language Learning Learners engage in developing cultural competence from the beginning of their language learning. Learners engage in understanding their own languages and cultures in relation to the additional language and culture. iCLT is more than just learning the culture and compare to one’s own. Learners must make choices when engaging in meaningful communication in another language
Intercultural competence involves at least the following key concepts:
- accepting that one’s practices are influenced by the cultures in which one participates and so are those of one’s interlocutors;
- accepting that there is no one right way to do things;
- valuing one’s own culture and other cultures;
- using language to explore culture;
- finding personal ways of engaging in intercultural interaction;
- using one’s existing knowledge of cultures as a resource for learning about new cultures;
- finding a personal intercultural style and identity.
Ideas about iCLT that are new to me
In taking an intercultural perspective in language teaching and learning, the term is new to me but the ideas are not. Such as the central focus for culture learning involves more than developing knowledge of other people and places.
Or, iCLT is about raising an awareness of the pervasive presence of culture in language. Even, iCLT uses learning processes such as interacting, exploring, comparing, and experiencing languages and cultures to develop in learners the competencies that allow them to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries; that is, to display intercultural communicative competence. Therefore iCLT reflects a social and dialogic perspective on learning. These ideas are already in my schema. However to activate them I need to unpack them further.
- Learners involves purposeful engagement in interpreting in interaction with others.
- Learners continually make connections between language and culture and learning.
- They continually make connections between first language and target language.
- The learners continuously learn and build from interacting experience.
- The learners continuously reflect on how we think, know and learn about language, culture, and their relationships.
- Learners learning depends on learners’ attitudes, dispositions and values.
The ability to learn beyond the classroom is probably more important than any particular information that students may learn about another culture during their school year.
My personal response and reaction
The goal of iCLT learning is to develop an intercultural identity as a result of an engagement with an additional culture.
- The move from static to dynamic
- The nature of content: artefact-practice
- The nature of learning: fact- process
- The nature of the educational effect: cultural – intercultural
In approaching language education from an intercultural perspective, it is important that the view of intercultural Language Teaching and Learning culture be broad but also that it be seen as directly centered in the lived experiences of people.
The aim of intercultural language teaching and learning is not to displace language as the core focus of language education but to ensure that language is integrated with culture in conceptualizing language learning.
Learning another language can be like placing a mirror up to one’s culture and to one’s assumptions about how communication happens, what particular messages mean, and what assumptions one makes in daily life.
Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning culture can be broad but also that it be seen as directly centered in the lived experiences of people.
To sum it up I believe intercultural communicative language learning is whanaungatanga in Maori and va fealofani in Samoan. iCLT is about building relationships with others so it is more than just language learning and more than learning about culture. iCLT is about people learning and the space that happens between that cannot be seen. I really like the use of the mirror analogy to help me as a learner understand my own culture.
Applying what I read to my language classroom
When I teach iCLT in my Mandarin language classroom the focus needs to shift from language to include culture. The focus needs to be on my learners making connections with the target language and culture.
The learners are:
- actively involved in constructing knowledge through exploring cultural practices
- making connections between cultures, and between existing knowledge of culture and language, and new learning
- involved in social interactions that involve communicating across cultural boundaries
- reflecting ‘critically and constructively on linguistic and cultural differences and similarities
- taking responsibility for their intercultural growth, assisted by teachers who, for example, foster engagement with difference and awareness of stereotypes.
Opportunities need to happen for my learners to participate in social exchanges and the most effective for iCLT is role playing by seeking explicit comparisons between the two cultures to develop empathy. Activities that develop noticing of cultural similarities and differences are also suggested for iCLT.
The following are examples of this:
- Comparing what one has noticed about another language and culture with one already knows
- Reflecting on what one’s experience of linguistic and cultural diversity means for oneself
- Interacting on the basis of one’s learning and experiences of diversity in order to create personal meanings about one’s experiences
Overall iCLT is more than just learning the culture and compare to one’s own. It is more than a body of knowledge but rather a framework in which people live their lives and communicate shared meanings with each other. Learners must make choices when engaging in meaningful communication in another language through activities rather than just discussion.