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Intercultural communicative competence: exploring English language teachers’ beliefs and practices

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young



This paper reports an investigation into the beliefs and practices of experienced teachers in the USA, UK and France relating to the application of a model of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) to English language programmes. Broadly ‘intercultural’ approaches to language learning and teaching are strongly advocated in both the recent theoretical applied linguistics literature, and in curricular guidance in frameworks such as Council of Europe (2001). However little prior empirical research has addressed the extent to which such approaches are actually operationalised. The investigation was multimethodological, combining diaries, focus groups and questionnaires. Byram’s (1997) language pedagogical model of ICC was the specific focus. Findings indicated a general consensus across locations, with an apparent disparity between teachers’ attitudes to and beliefs about ICC and their current classroom priorities. Most reported beliefs that supported the relevance of interculturality to their work, and stressed that ‘good’ learners and teachers tended to exhibit high intercultural competence. However, they also suggested that ICC was given relatively little emphasis in syllabi which were negotiated with learners. Participants also identified and discussed a lack of support, in testing, in textbooks and in institutional syllabi, for effective and appropriate approaches to ‘culture learning’ and interculturality.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Sachdev I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Language Awareness

Year: 2011

Volume: 20

Issue: 2

Pages: 81-98

Print publication date: 08/08/2011

Date deposited: 14/12/2010

ISSN (print): 0965-8416

ISSN (electronic): 1747-7565

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09658416.2010.540328


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