An interactive, co-constructed approach to the development of intercultural understanding in pre-service language teachers

Publisher:
Springer
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Intercultural Competence in Education Alternative Approaches for Different Times, 2016, pp. 185 - 213
Issue Date:
2016-09-29
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In our responsibilities for language teacher education, we have critiqued in recent years the sometimes limited success of intercultural learning activities, and become dissatisfied that the intercultural concept has been diminished to static and essentialized comparisons of culture, in some language classrooms. This has led us to explore an experiential collaborative approach to the development of intercultural understandings in pre-service language teachers, where an intercultural dynamic can be seen operating in co-construction between themselves and their peers. The researchers introduced two groups of pre-service language teachers to discourse analysis, and recognition of classroom discourse patterns, such as Initiation–Response–Evaluation. The pre-service teachers, in small groups, discussed a number of transcripts from school language classrooms that were endeavouring to ‘be intercultural’. The chapter reports the unexpected additional learning that emerged from this task. The discussion offered the pre-service teachers an opportunity to critically examine cultural assumptions, both in the classroom lesson transcripts, and among themselves. Within their small group interactions, the pre-service teachers constructed a zone where they could voice diverse perspectives, notice, explore and respect the complexity of the interaction. Structured social interaction enables some of them to transform their thinking, and take away the beginning of their own personal and dynamic understanding. It appears to represent a useful task to support critical reflection, in requiring pre-service teachers to move beyond the acquisition of knowledge about ‘intercultural’, into active questioning of their perspectives, complexity, and assumptions.
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