How to Teach Intercultural Communicative Language Teaching

How to Teach Intercultural Communicative Language
Teaching This is the second video in a series about
Intercultural Communicative Language Teaching (iCLT). The first video briefly discussed iCLT and
the first principle of iCLT. Here we will continue with the second, third
and fourth principles of Newton regarding iCLT. Principle 2: iCLT engages learners in genuine
social interaction. According to Lahdeperä from Sweden, culture
is a dynamic construct of artifacts (which are the visible aspects of culture), such
as architecture; it’s also a construct of behavior patterns, of beliefs and values,
of ways of thinking, of emotions, of communication, and of self-concept. Can you see from the above definition how
culture is a result of social interaction? What about language? Communicative language
instructors believe language is used in social situations. And, communicative competence
means being able to communicate successfully with others. This emphasizes the interaction
between individuals in communication. So, if language and culture are both social
constructs and activities, why not connect them in the classroom? Don’t just introduce
new vocabulary. Explain the appropriate social uses of them, what language teachers refer
to as the register of the language. And, don’t stop with just the language, discuss the intonation
variations and appropriate gestures – not separately from vocabulary and grammar, but
in conjunction with. By the way, when the language classroom asks
learners to use language to learn about social variations across cultures, it becomes very
authentic, or “genuine” as Principle 2 states.
Principle 3: iCLT encourages and develops an exploratory and reflective approach to
culture and culture-in-language. Teaching culture is not about teaching facts.
Students will go out of their way to explain why a particular “fact” or stereotype
about their culture is incorrect. So, don’t try to teach that this country is always on
time and this other country is always late because individuals don’t fit into stereotypes.
You could explain that there are general views of time and such and such country tends one
way or the other. However, the point of Principle 3 is that
allowing the learners to discover how their classmates respond to time and why is much
more valuable than the instructor presenting themselves as the cultural expert for every
culture. Create non-threatening ways for students to explore the beliefs and values of their
classmates. And, build in reflective exercises where students
spend time thinking about what they have just heard from fellow students and how they feel
about it. How does what they’ve learned effect their own cultural identity. As an
instructor, never assume learners will automatically spend time in reflection. Principle 4: iCLT fosters explicit comparisons
and connections between languages and cultures. Research indicates that learning about culture,
or being told about culture, does not require me to actively consider how my experience
differs from yours. Only when I explicitly look for connections and differences between
our cultures will my awareness be raised. Usually, this results in cultural dissonance
in one or more of the learners. Research shows that role-playing, where cultural situations
are reversed, is one of the most effective teaching tools for developing conscious recognition
of differences. It is through cultural dissonance, or conscious recognition of differences, that
we begin to develop cultural acceptance and new bicultural/multicultural identities. So,
cultural dissonance is an important process to go through. I find Lynne Diaz-Rico’s suggestion to always
compare three or more cultures invaluable here. When only two cultures are compared,
it possibly can lead to “us versus them” mentality instead of the “us” mentality
desired. In summary, iCLT is active, active, active.
Learners participate in authentic social exchanges, take a discovery approach to culture with
reflection emphasized, and seek explicit comparisons and connections. The last video in this series will explore
Principles 5 and 6.

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