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Intercultural Approaches to English Language Teaching

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CR Dobson

on 28 March 2015

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Transcript of Intercultural Approaches to English Language Teaching

Intercultural Approaches to English Language Teaching
AEGEE Working Groups
AEGEE (Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe) is one of Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary student organisations. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines. Founded in 1985 in Paris, today AEGEE has grown to a Network of 13000 friends, present in 200 cities in 40 countries all over Europe.

AEGEE puts the idea of a unified Europe into practice. Operating without a national level, AEGEE brings 13000 students from 40 different countries directly in touch with each other.
A Working Group on Modern Languages Teaching for Wales and England proposed that learners should have the opportunity to . . .
appreciate the similarities and differences between their own and cultures of the communities/ countries where the target language is spoken;

identify with the experience and perspective of people in the countries and communities where the target language is spoken;

use this knowledge to develop a more objective view of their own customs and ways of thinking.

These standards match those of an intercultural approach.
Adding Culture to the
* goes beyond just teaching the four main skills of language (reading, writing, speaking listening) to teach cultural skills.
*the goal of achieving intercultural communicative competence becomes equally as important as achieving native speaker proficiency.
intercultural communicative competence
is the ability to understand and describe to somebody else the language and behavior of the target community.
* The ability to observe, explain, mediate between your culture and that of another.

In your experience . . .
Are you free to follow your desired teaching approach when it comes to English?

Have you used culture in your English lessons? What did you do? Did your students seem to enjoy it?

Discuss these questions with your group. Feel free to add any other relevant information to your discussions!

Tributary Disciplines
Culture is like a wide river--it has many smaller rivers (or tributaries) flowing out from it. Some of them are:

Linguistic Anthropology
Language is a way of expressing your needs according to the culture you live in. "What do I have to say to get what I need?"

Ethnography: "Hiding in the bushes" and observing, interpreting and explaining human behavior.

Register analysis: What we say according to: topic, relationship, type (conversation, email, speech)

Resistance to culture in ELT
In the US during the 1970s and 1980s many academics thought that culture would get in the way of language learning.

They wanted to teach a standard English that could be used anywhere in the world.

They thought it was best to avoid cultural practices that are specific to small parts of the world.

This resistance began to reduce by the 1990s when more supporters of intercultural communication began to speak out.
Linguistic Imperialism
* Making it mandatory to be proficient in English to have access to better jobs and education.

*"English by English" can create an economic disadvantage by requiring specific textbooks and native speakers.

*An Intercultural approach can help change that by using the home language and culture as well as the target language and culture.

*Home language speakers have the advantage of being proficient in both the target and home languages and cultures.
Intercultural Communication provides a purpose.
Communicative teaching has always required a purpose.

Using intercultural communication in English teaching is a way to give additional cultural purposes to your lessons.

Intercultural communication can be used as an extension to communicative exercises and can provide real world reasons for participating in them.

It's likely that you have already been using culture in your classrooms.
An Intercultural Approach to ELT
Many commercial Schools are motivated by profit or for specific testing purposes.

State schools, colleges and organizations such as the British Council are required or have decided to include foreign language education within the humanities (especially in Europe).

What about South Korea?
Private and State Education and Intercultural Communication
Tributary Disciplines
Genre Analysis: Why does a specific kind of text exist? We can learn what to say and how to say it (eg. a business letter) but WHY do we write business letters?

Critical Discourse Analysis: Use culture not only as information but as a way to promote critical thinking. Students can evaluate certain parts of cultures--including their own.

Literary, Media, and Cultural Studies: Using literature, media (film, t.v., newspapers, Internet) and cultural studies as a tool to bring cultural awareness to language students. Provides a way to explore how other cultures approach specific topics like gender roles, youth, and how social groups are represented in advertisement and the media.

Look at the basic communicative speaking exercise. Discuss how you can add a cultural aspect that will give your students a real-world reason for their conversations.
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