In recent years there have been more discussions and research focusing on the importance of intercultural sensitivity and intercultural communicative competence. EFL teachers should not just draw learners’ attention to facts about other cultures, but they should teach in such a way as to make it clear that communication is more than the exchange of information and opinions. Effective intercultural communication requires empathy, respect, openness and sensitivity.
It is very important first to raise students’ awareness of their own culture, and in so doing to interpret and understand the other cultures. Raising intercultural awareness implies the development of skills for successful communication, i.e. competent and peaceful interaction with people who are different from us. Such an approach assigns another important role to the foreign language teacher/learner: that of “intercultural mediator”, i.e. someone who is capable of critically reflecting on the relationship between two cultures.
EFL teachers will be challenged to exploit this situation by creating opportunities for communication based on the values, cultural norms, and needs of learners, rather than on the syllabi and texts/textbooks developed in native-speakers communities. Most importantly, an intercultural language learning programme should help the learners to develop an “intercultural awareness” in order to “translate” culture in their own context (Guilherme, 2002).
It is a myth that we operate under a set of oppressive bureaucratic constraints. In reality, teachers have a great deal of autonomy in the work they chose to do in their classrooms. In most cases it is our culture that provides the constraints. For individual teachers, trying out new practices and pedagogy is risky business and both our culture, and our reliance on hierarchy, provide the ideal barriers for change not to occur. As Pogo pointed out long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us.” http://www.cea-ace.ca/blog/brian-harrison/2013/09/5/stop-asking-permission-change
Educational psychology has focused on the concepts of learned helplessness and more currently growth-fixed mindsets as a way to explain how and why students give up in the classroom setting. These ideas can also be applied to educators in this day of forced standardization, testing, scripted curriculum, and school initiatives.
Welcome to English Profile -- setting industry standards for English language learners. Linked to the Common European Framework for Reference for Languages (CEFR), English Profile will provide a detailed set of Reference Level Descriptions for English language learners.
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