Developing intercultural competence using the textbooks

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Modulo MIVCI: CI en la Enseñanza Plurilingue

Developing Intercultural Competence using the Textbooks
Manuel F. Lara Garrido

Introduction
In the present post-method situation, ELT has become increasingly sensitive to the issue of culture. Teachers wanting to insert a ‘culture’ component into their language classrooms may feel confused:

On the one side, there exists a large body ofEFL/ESL scholarship based in cultural anthropology which seeks to isolate the essences of various cultures and aid teachers in applying these insights in their work. On the other hand, there has recently emerged a body of literature that is critical of much of this approach to teaching culture. Proponents of this critical perspective claim that much EFL cultural research has had the unfortunate resultof misrepresenting foreign cultures by reinforcing popular stereotypes and constructing these cultures as monolithic, static ‘Others’, rather than as dynamic, fluid entities. Such representations are often considered by these critics to be politically-motivated constructs that serve to ‘essentialize’ and ‘exoticize’ this ‘Other’. As Michael BYRAM, Bella GRIBKOVA and Hugh STARKEY say, developingthe intercultural dimension in language teaching involves recognising that the aims are: ● to give learners intercultural competence as well as linguistic competence; ● to prepare them for interaction with people of other cultures; ● to enable them to understand and accept people from other cultures as individuals with other distinctive perspectives, values and behaviours; ● and to help them to seethat such interaction is an enriching experience. The components of intercultural competence are knowledge, skills and attitudes, complemented by the values one holds because of one's belonging Manuel F. Lara Garrido

Modulo MIVCI: CI en la Enseñanza Plurilingue to a number of social groups. These values are part of one's social identities. The role of the language teacher is therefore todevelop skills, attitudes and awareness of values just as much as to develop a knowledge of a particular culture or country. When developing the intercultural dimension in language teaching we try to achieve several aims: 1. to give learners intercultural competence as well as linguistic competence; learners need not just knowledge and skill in the grammar of a language but also the ability to use thelanguage in socially and culturally appropriate ways. 2. to prepare them for interaction with people of other cultures and enable them to understand and accept people from other cultures as individuals with other distinctive perspectives, values and behaviours; 3. to develop learners as intercultural speakers or mediators who are able to engage with complexity and multiple identities and to avoidthe stereotyping which accompanies perceiving someone through a single identity. 4. to help them to see that such interaction is an enriching experience; learners see relationships between their own and other cultures, and this help them acquire interest in and curiosity about 'otherness', 5. and to develop in learners an awareness of themselves and their own cultures seen from other people'sperspectives. I consider these five points to be the most important aims for the incorporation of an intercultural syllabus in language teaching, but the problem many teachers meet when trying to introduce an intercultural dimension in their teaching is that they face with a set curriculum or programme of study based on a given textbook. We will see here how this can be modified and challenged bysimple techniques which make learners aware of the implicit values and meanings in the material they are using. Textbooks can be presented in a way that suggests that the materials are authoritative and definitive or in an intercultural and critical perspective. When developing intercultural skills, teachers can start from the theme and content in the textbook, and then encourage learners to ask...
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