Interculturality in English Language Teaching – A Small Study with Portuguese Teachers

Open access


UNESCO and many other organisations worldwide have been working on approaches in education to develop tolerance, respect for cultural diversity, and intercultural dialogue. Particularly, the Council of Europe has laid out guiding principles in several documents to promote intercultural competence, following Byram’s and Zarate’s efforts in integrating this important component in language education. The commitment to developing the notion of intercultural competence has been so influential that many countries, e.g., Portugal, have established the intercultural domain as a goal in the foreign language curricula. However, this commitment has been questioned by researchers worldwide who consider that action is needed to effectively promote intercultural competence. The research coordinated by Sercu, for example, suggests that, although foreign language teachers are willing to comply with an intercultural dimension, their profile is more compatible with that of a traditional foreign language teacher, rather than with a foreign language teacher, who promotes intercultural communicative competence. In this study, I propose to examine teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about intercultural communicative competence in a cluster of schools in Portugal and compare these findings with Sercu’s study. Despite a twelve-year gap, the present study draws similar conclusions.

Allwright, Dick. “Exploratory Practice: Rethinking Practitioner Research in Language Teaching.” Language Teaching Research, vol. 7, no. 2, Lancaster University, 2003, pp. 113-41.

Byram, Michael. From Foreign Language Education for Intercultural Citizenship. Essays and Reflections. Multilingual Matters, 2008.

Byram, Michael. Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters, 1997.

Byram, Michael, and Genevieve Zarate. “Defining and Assessing Intercultural Competence: Some Principles and Proposals for the European Context.” Language Teaching, vol. 29, no. 4, 1996, pp. 239-43.

Byram, Michael, et al. Developing the Intercultural Dimension in Language Teaching: A Practical Introduction for Teachers. Council of Europe, 2002.

Byram, Michael, and Manuela Guilherme. “Intercultural Education and Intercultural Communication: Tracing the Relationship.” Becoming Intercultural: Inside and Outside the Classroom, edited by Yau Tsai and Stephanie Houghton, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, pp. 2-22.

Council of Europe. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge UP, 2001.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Companion Volume with New Descriptors. Provisional Edition. Council of Europe, 2017.

Delors, Jacques, et al. Learning: the Treasure within – Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century. UNESCO, 1996.

Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. Basic Books, 1973.

Hube, Josef, editor. Intercultural Competence for All. Preparation for Living in a Heterogeneous World. Council of Europe Pestalozzi Series, no. 2, Council of Europe Publishing, 2012.

Hurst, Nicolas. “Visual Representations in Portuguese Produced English Language Teaching Coursebooks.” Lingvarum Arena, vol. 5, 2014, pp. 21-30,

Kordes, Hagen. “Intercultural Learning at School: Limits and Possibilities.” Mediating Languages and Cultures, edited by Dieter Buttjes and Michael Byram, Multilingual Matters, 1991, pp. 287-305.

Lázár, Ildikó, et al. Developing and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Council of Europe, 2007,

Laxness, Halldór. The Atom Station, translated by Magnus Magnusson. Vintage, 2014.

Ministério da Educação e Ciência. Metas Curriculares de Inglês. Caderno de Apoio. Ensino Básico: 1.º Ciclo, 2015.

Ministério da Educação e Ciência. Metas Curriculares de Inglês. Caderno de Apoio. Ensino Básico: 2.º e 3.º Ciclos, 2015.

Ministério da Educação e Ciência. Metas Curriculares de Inglês. Ensino Básico : 1.º, 2.º e 3.º ciclos, 2015,

Ministério da Educação e Ciência. Metas Curriculares de Inglês. Ensino Básico: 2.º e 3.º Ciclos, 2013.

Reay, Diane. “Identity Making in Schools and Classrooms.” The Sage Handbook of Identities, edited by Margaret Wetherell and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, SAGE Publications, 2010, pp. 277-94.

Risager, Karen. “Languaculture as a Key Concept in Language and Culture Teaching.” The Consequences of Mobility: Linguistic and Sociocultural Contact Zones, edited by Bent Preisler et al., Roskilde Universitet, 2005,

Sercu, Lies, et al. Foreign Language Teachers and Intercultural Competence. An International Investigation. Multilingual Matters, 2005.

Sercu, Lies. “The Foreign Language and Intercultural Competence Teacher: The Acquisition of a New Professional Identity.” Intercultural Education, vol. 17, no. 1, Routledge, 2006, pp. 55-72.


an e-journal of Teacher Education and Applied Language Studies

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 132 132 19
PDF Downloads 46 46 13