A Cultural Studies Approach to Interculturality in ELT

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Lone Krogsgaard Svarstad, University College Copenhagen, Denmark

Chapter 3: A Cultural Studies Approach to Interculturality in ELT


The chapter unfolds and discusses the potentials of a Cultural Studies approach to interculturality in ELT in teacher education. It is one of many responses to the shift in foreign language teaching towards broader understandings of intercultural competence and interculturality with ‘the inclusion of other analytical elements such as equity, social justice, human rights and democracy but also a mix of foci (gender, religion, social class etc.)’ (Dervin 2019). Using Cultural Studies analyses as resources for student engagement in broader intercultural issues has the potential to empower students to take a critical stance and to develop language skills to support this stance. According to Kearney, one of the many challenges of using culture in language teaching is getting beyond cultural ‘facts’ to acknowledge complexity and contradiction in cultural knowledge and experience (Kearney 2016:19). The challenge of getting beyond cultural ‘facts’ and exploring complex understandings of culture was also a main concern in an action research study in lower secondary school (Svarstad 2016). This chapter draws on the research findings from this study and argues for the potentials of a Cultural Studies approach to interculturality in teacher education. Three key concepts: intersectionality, othering and subtextuality emerged from the action research and the subsequent analysis. Thus, these concepts will be explored in the transformation of research findings to curriculum development in teacher education. I will appeal to local examples taken from an ELT module (10 ECTS) in intercultural competence at University College Copenhagen, Denmark. In doing so, I hope to shed light on how student teachers responded to a Cultural Studies approach to interculturality that asked them to explore issues such as popular culture, gender, social class, equity, globalisation, identity and fashion when designing and analysing ELT material.

A Cultural Studies approach is one of many responses to the transformation of foreign language teaching. It is relevant to a wider global audience, because of its discursive and critical stance. Furthermore, using popular culture as a resource for engaging in intercultural encounters through agents in text and media has the potential to empower students to read the world critically. The interrelatedness of the fields Cultural Studies, critical intercultural communication and critical media literacy support teaching of language and culture learning that questions essentialism and culturalism and supports educating for diversity and the global citizen.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Perspectives in English Language Teaching
Number of pages32
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Publication statusSubmitted - 1 Oct 2020


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