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What do ELT professionals need to know … about intercultural competence? Michael Byram University of Durham, England, UK.

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Presentation on theme: "What do ELT professionals need to know … about intercultural competence? Michael Byram University of Durham, England, UK."— Presentation transcript:

1 What do ELT professionals need to know … about intercultural competence? Michael Byram University of Durham, England, UK.

2 Overview Here: ‘professionals = teachers’ Some starting points Some axioms What we know teachers know What teachers need to know How they get to know … [Is ELT different?] What we still need to know 2

3 Starting points … Intercultural (communicative) competence – IC = encounters where culture is ‘noticed’ but language is not – ICC = ditto where language is noticed Competence versus sensitivity Competence for diversity classrooms Competence to teach competence (in FLT) – for dialogue not only communication 3

4 Axioms Communication (dialogue) = face validity – For learners and other stakeholders – and therefore teachers Dialogue leading to action AND Language teaching = language (humanistic) education 4

5 What teachers know … What we know teachers ‘know’ = believe/opine Research on perceptions Research on factors affecting perceptions – Residence/Study ‘abroad’ = in FL country – Personal ‘stories’ /personal experiences/theories – Effect of training Research on effect of perceptions on practice – NB not all teachers think ICC is important. 5

6 Example from ‘residence’ research New Zealand – investment in languages - ‘immersion programmes’ Findings have evidenced positive gains for teachers from the immersion programmes in terms of knowledge of culture and, to some extent, development of their own ICC. However, the full potential of immersion programmes in this respect has not been harnessed as well as it might have been. Participants appeared to be confident and comfortable talking about the development of their cultural knowledge, but they were less confident about their understanding of the relationship between language and culture. (AUT university 2011: 74) 6

7 Residence and competence to teach competence While some teachers appeared to be familiar with the overall aim of ICC in terms of interaction with people of other cultures, awareness of differences and similarities and preventing overemphasis on foreignness and stereotypes (…), understanding was varied and largely descriptive with no links to explicit ICC theory and research, nor to iCLT. (…) while teachers appeared to demonstrate the subcompetencies relating to willingness to engage and interact with people of the immersion programme country, a lack of knowledge of theory and terminology affected teachers’ ability to identify and reflect on the development of their own ICC. 7

8 Key points Development of cultural knowledge Not clear about ‘language and culture’ Knowledge of NZ curriculum aim for ICC – but not theoretical Demonstrate their own ICC BUT not able to reflect on it Other research Lazar: teachers interpret the curriculum ‘in a highly idiosyncratic and intuitive way’ → indications of training needs - implicit assumptions/ axioms of researchers 8

9 From ‘is’ to ‘ought’ – conceptual research … What should be in teacher training? Examples: Kelly and Grenfell – importance of residence aboard – remains general EPOSTL - ‘can do’ for IC but not comprehensive 9

10 Outcomes and axioms … Teachers should ‘believe’ in ICC – as communication and education Teachers should have ICC: – language competence to level X (CEFR) ; IC to level ??? [residence helps and ability for self-analysis (IDI, AIE …) – disciplinary/historical knowledge of ICC e.g. of ‘language and culture’ relationship – pedagogical competence to teach ICC 10

11 The use of models … To define ICC - components To determine component outcomes Savoirs model – prescriptive: – Learners’ competences – Teachers’ objectives for teaching and assessing THEREFORE pedagogical competences/sub- competences 11

12 Example 1 – savoir être ICC includes ‘Savoir être’ involves attitudes of curiosity and openness, readiness to suspend disbelief about other cultures and beliefs about one's own. to teach ‘savoir être’: – designing and implementing teaching and learning situations where learners are encouraged if not obliged to become curious, etc – pedagogical competence to ‘teach curiosity’, and to assess the learner's success in achieving these attitudes. 12

13 Example 2 – savoir s’engager ICC includes Savoir s'engager/critical cultural awareness is an ability to evaluate, critically and on the basis of explicit criteria, perspectives practices and products in one's own and other cultures and countries. To teach savoir s’engager: – design and implement learning situations in which learners are obliged to decentre from judgements of others’ ways of living, and reflect on the criteria they are using and why. AND critique own social groups – Pedagogical competence to teach decentring, critiquing … and assess learners’ success – AND to take ethical position on critique and action 13

14 Is ELT different? ELT as traditional FLT - no difference ELT as international language /lingua franca – IC plus language competence still necessary – Different ‘language and culture’ relationship Different/extra knowledge - same theory Different ‘residence aboard’ Different ‘cultural knowledge – not FL country but of ‘another country’ as example And …. ?? 14

15 What we still need to know.. Teachers’ belief in ICC – how do we ‘persuade’? Teachers’ ICC competence What is minimum ICC (language and IC) level for teaching – how do we describe? How do teachers acquire that level? How do we assess their IC level? 15

16 Teachers’ pedagogical competence How do we decide on pedagogical competences? How do teachers acquire – and how are they assessed – what is the minimum? 16

17 Instead of a conclusion The problem of the native speaker -As a model for language competence -As a model for ICC An alternative – ‘intercultural speaker’ = NS language and IS culture The problem of the native speaker teacher – e.g. Japanese ‘native-speakers’ Pros and cons …. 17

18 Select bibliography AUT University (2011) An Evaluation of the Language and Culture Immersion Experiences (LCIE) for Teachers Programmes: Their Impact on Teachers and their Contribution to Effective Second Language Learning. Ministry of Education, New Zealand LCIE.pdf Braine, G. (2010) Non-native Speaker English Teachers: Research, Pedagogy and ProfessionalGrowth, New York and London: Routledge Byram, M. (2012) Reflecting on teaching ‘culture’ in foreign language education. In: D. Newby (ed.) Insights into the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Byram, M. and Risager, K. (1999) Language Teachers, Politics and Cultures. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Davies, A. (2003) The native speaker. Myth and reality. (2 nd ed.) Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Ehrenreich, S., Woodman, G. and Perrefort, M. (eds) (2008) Auslandsaufenthalte in Schule und Studium:Bestandsaufnahmen aus Forschung und Praxis. München: Waxmann. EPOSTL (2007) The European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Language Graz: Council of Europe. Kelchtermans, G.(2009) Who I am in how I teach is the message: self understanding, vulnerability and reflection. Teachers and Teaching, 15, Kelly, M and Grenfell, M. (2004) European profile for language teacher education. A frame of reference. Lázár, I. (2011) Teachers’ beliefs about integrating the development of intercultural communicative competence in language teaching. ForumSprache 5(5), pp.113–127. Sercu, L. et al. (2005) Foreign language teachers and intercultural competence: an international investigation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 18


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