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

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Abstract

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.

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