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Developing Learners’ Intercultural Understanding through a CLIL Approach

Abstract

Language and culture are interconnected and teaching a language should also be concerned with offering learners a wide range of opportunities to gain insights into other cultures. Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) approaches have an invaluable contribution to make towards developing learners’ intercultural understanding (ICU), by making the content culturally relevant to the language of instruction. Within this paradigm, this paper presents the findings of an action-based research project seeking to develop ICU among secondary learners of French in England, through the teaching of a series of lessons following a CLIL approach. Stemming from its findings, it is proposed here that a renewed understanding of CLIL be defined, in which CLIL would stand for Content and Language Intercultural Learning. Within this framework, the content would be conceptualised through the lens of culture, to offer learners opportunities to compare and contrast experiences and viewpoints, to develop their cultural knowledge, as well as their intercultural skills and attitudes – by means of exposure, independent exploration and collaborative work. The language, still driven by the content, would encompass both the language of learning, and the language required through the learning processes - and would be language that is both accessible and cognitively challenging. Learning would occur through cognitively demanding content that is real, relevant and engaging, yet accessible to all.

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