Fashioning an intercultural
IATEFL, Cardiff 2009
1 cultural content in ELT materials: a
critique (e.g. food)
2 intercultural content: some dangers
3 classroom ideas
4 language autobiographies / memoirs
1 Cultural content in ELT
materials: a critique
1 information-laden texts
2 target culture emphasized over
3 aspirational contexts, removed from
4 individualism & the self highlighted
5 anachronistic / stereotypical models still
2 “intercultural content”: some
- traditional content given „intercultural
- cultural do’s and dont’s / „othering’
- pop anthropology (e.g. global greetings)
- taboo behaviour / negative etiquette
- focus on country rather than
international speech community
3 classroom ideas
i a subjective atlas
ii the English around me
iii cultural misconceptions
iv diversity in my community
v my view of English/the English
i) a subjective atlas
Learners can analyse a country‟s identity through
1 Redesign flags / bank notes / stamps / signs / maps
/ other cultural artefacts
2 Consider how culture/community/country is
projected for visitors? (brochures, etc.)
3 Collect memorabilia to create own version of
community and its inhabitants to share with others.
ii) the English around me
Identify English words used in your community…
In the media
In slang / street language
In everyday conversation
Why has English been used, to what effect?
iii) cultural misconceptions
Everyone thinks that...
Apparently, we also...
But, I suppose it‟s true that…
iv) diversity in my community
Ethnographic project, students conduct interview in their
1 What would you like people in the community to know
about your country?
2 What‟s your contribution to the community?
3 What local customs do you keep? Why these and not
4 Is there any crossover between cultures? In what
v) my view of English / an
“I miss the freedom that the children have
because they can just play outside and the
parents don't really worry that much,
whereas here there is a lot of worrying going
Dickerson (aged 15), Madagascar
4 Language autobiographies
Guo: “A Chinese / English Dictionary for Lovers”
Hoffman: „Lost in Translation”
Kaplan: “French Lessons”
Language Teaching Memoirs: Schmidt, etc.
“Chinese, we not
having grammar. We
saying things simple
way. No verb-
change usage, no
tense differences, no
gender changes. We
bosses of our
English language is
boss of English
“Polish words slip off
them [the people]
English words don‟t
hook on to anything.
The words float in an
connection to my
knowledge. Even the
sow confusion in my
mind.” p. 108
“I could feel the
French sticking in
my throat, the new
muscles in my
I was full of French,
it was holding me
up, running through
me, a voice in my
head, a tickle in my
ear, likely to be set
off at any time. A
A Third Space
“Learners seek out a personal space
where two worlds exist simultaneously, …
(here) they will make their own meanings
and relevances, often challenging the
established educational canons of both
native and target cultures”.
A way forward…
1 Promote a flexible model of English open to
student appropriation and emergent forms.
2 Allow learners to develop space to internalize
language and fashion their own voice.
3 Encourage a context-sensitive and culture-
specific approach (e.g. determine „cultural
content‟ according to local needs).
4 “Do not isolate language teaching from transcultural
flows of culture, language, music and text”.
5 Develop critical awareness and reflection in terms of
presentation of culture. Challenge the „familiar‟.
6 Stay tuned to where our students are at, (i.e. consider
global urban subcultures - hip-hop, etc. and local
versions thereof) to inform classroom practice.
“If the world is imposing English on our
students, we … can enable them,
through English, to impose their voices
on the world”
Warschauer, 2000, p. 511