chapter  50
19 Pages

Language Teaching and Learning from an Intercultural Perspective

An intercultural perspective in language learning teaching and learning has become prominent over the past two decades, and is variously known in English as Intercultural Language Teaching, or Intercultural Language Learning, or Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning.1 It has at its basis the understanding that the role of language education is to prepare language learners for meaningful communication outside their own cultural environment and to develop in language learners a sense of themselves as mediators between languages and cultures (Buttjes & Byram, 1991; Zarate, GohardRadenkovic, Lussier & Penz, 2004). The development of intercultural language teaching and learning has involved a conceptual shift in the understanding of the nature and purpose of language teaching. Such a shift has necessitated considerable work in developing new ways of understanding the content and processes of language education. At the beginning of the development of intercultural language teaching and learning, Zarate (1986) argued that the teaching and learning of culture in language education has been problematic because sufficient attention has not been given to considering what is to be taught and how. The years since Zarate made this point have been a time of considerable work in this area, and while the intercultural project in language teaching and learning cannot be considered in any way complete, much progress has been made. This chapter aims to present some of the ways in which the field has begun to address these shortcomings. It will begin by outlining some of the basic assumptions about language, culture and learning that characterise an intercultural perspective in language education. It will then examine some aspects of the educational approaches developed within an intercultural framework-pedagogy, processes of learning and assessment.