European Language Teachers’ beliefs on Intercultural Communicative Competence

Paper presented by Martine Derivry & Kristi Jauregi at the AILA World Congress 2014, held in Brisbane, 10-15 August 2014.

Abstract

Based on a project financed by the European Commission called TILA (Telecollaboration for Intercultural Acquisition), running from January 2013 till June 2015, the objective of this presentation is to describe a set of embedded educational contexts, which are essential to be closely looked at when dealing with teaching beliefs and practices. Even though there is no strict homology between beliefs and practices, knowing more about language teachers’ beliefs on Intercultural Communicative Competence help to better understand how professional representations work and notably on rather refined notions such as Intercultural Communication and Intercultural Communicative Competence (Byram, 1997, 2008; Coste et al, 1997, Zarate and al, 2008, 2010).

The methodology adopted takes into account a triangular approach as to check our postulate: even though teachers are constrained by their educational contexts and situations, their involvement in TILA and the intercultural dimensions can rather be explained by two combined factors:  involvement in lifelong learning through trainings and mobility involvement as language teachers. The triangular approach is made of questionnaires, face-to-face interviews and e-mail interviews at different stages of the project. As representations are both fixed and not fixed, the time dimension of data collection should reduce the risk of a snapshot for a more comprehensive view of the dynamics of representations.

Results will be interpreted within the European political context, which tries to develop some kind of European Citizenship (Byram, 2008, Starkey, 2010) and therefore, research on topics like the cultural dimension and ICC in language learning and teaching has been boosted (CEFRL, 2001). Other international spaces may see the European Laboratory as a step towards a larger one, moving towards some kind of Global Citizenship. Language teachers worldwide are consequently confronted with the key issues of integrating the cultural/intercultural/plurilingual/pluricultural dimensions through telecollaborative tasks into both their understanding of the notions and their practices.

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