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Developing Intercultural Competence in English Language Teachers: Towards Building Intercultural Language Education in Colombia

PENA-DIX, BEATRIZ,MARIA (2018) Developing Intercultural Competence in English Language Teachers: Towards Building Intercultural Language Education in Colombia. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This research is a qualitative exploratory, constructivist study that aims to investigate Colombian (public sector) English language teachers’ existing or prospective intercultural communicative competence (ICC) to understand their teaching profiles and then to be able to build upon them. To achieve my aims, teachers’ perspectives on culture and interculturality are explored based on the underpinning assumption that there is a need to transform language education in Colombia and move forward from the «cultural turn» to the «intercultural turn». Within this vision of language teaching, teachers can become, in a near future, intercultural mediators who enlarge the objectives of contemporary language teaching to build Third Spaces for dialogue and negotiation through English. This study is motivated by one main research question: how do Colombian English language teachers’ current practices, beliefs, and professional self-concepts relate to an envisaged profile of the intercultural English language teacher? This question is embedded in the research aim of providing a comprehensive understanding of current English language teaching in Colombia, including teachers’ experiences and perspectives on culture and interculturality. While exploring the literature on ICC, insight was gained into how the teaching of languages becomes a natural scenario to develop ICC and the transformed role of the language teacher as an agent of change and pedagogical progress in transnational and global contexts (Crozet, 2017; Guilherme, 2002, 2007; Porto & Byram, 2015; Risager, 2000, 2007; Sercu et al., 2005). The empirical findings show that teachers feel positively disposed to intercultural competence English language teaching (IELT), but their approaches to culture are mainly essentialist and nationalist, based on communicative language teaching (CLT) approaches. Despite efforts and infrequent demonstrations of IELT, their profile does not meet yet the expectations pertaining to the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are desirable for IELT. However, they have a positive disposition to advance towards IELT. Based on these findings, a tripartite model and a statement of philosophy were proposed to help English language teachers move forward towards ICC. Finally, this investigation provides valuable insights into the status quo of ICC and ELT in Colombia and has practical implications for ELT education programmes, teachers and policy makers who are interested in reanalysing ELT in Colombia. 

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Interculturality, Culture teaching, Intercultural English Language Teaching (IELT), Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), Intercultural English language teacher
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 May 2018 10:40

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