Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence in Local ELT

by Jana Bérešová (Author)
©2019 Monographs 152 Pages
Series: Spectrum Slovakia, Volume 24


This book presents the results of an empirical investigation based on theoretical insights into and empirical verification of the concepts referring to intercultural communicative competence in the Slovak educational system, focusing on culture and its relation to language. Their intertwinedness was proved through thorough analyses of the national curricula for languages, based on the CEFR descriptors and language course books and attitudes of teachers and undergraduate students towards developing ICC in local English language teaching. Language professionals should be aware of how cultural context affects the way language is used to construct, interpret and communicate meanings.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • 1 Theoretical Insights into Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 1.1 Culture as a Concept in the Language Learning Framework
  • 1.2 Cultural Awareness
  • 1.3 Intercultural Communication
  • 1.4 Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 2 Language Learning and Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 2.1 Communicative Approaches
  • 2.2 Models of Competences
  • 2.3 The CEFR and Its Competence Model
  • 2.4 The CEFR Companion Volume with New Descriptors
  • 2.5 Byram’s Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 2.6 Kramsch’s Model of Symbolic Competence
  • 2.7 A Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Language and Culture
  • 2.8 A Model of the Effective Interculturalist
  • 2.9 Developing the Intercultural Perspective in Target Language Teaching
  • 2.10 Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 3 Intercultural Communicative Competence and Its Development in the Local Context: A Research Project
  • 3.1 Teachers’ Perception of the Intercultural Perspective in Local ELT
  • 3.1.1 Teachers of English and Their Language and Culture Teaching (A Pre-workshop Questionnaire Survey)
  • 3.1.2 Teachers of English and Their Language and Culture Teaching (A Post-workshop Questionnaire Survey)
  • 3.2 The Intercultural Perspective in the National ELT Curricula
  • 3.2.1 An Analysis of the National Curriculum – English, Level A1
  • 3.3.2 An Analysis of the National Curriculum – English, Level A2
  • 3.2.3 An Analysis of the National Curriculum – English, Level B1
  • 3.2.4 An Analysis of the National Curriculum – English, Level B2
  • 3.3 Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence through English Course Books
  • 3.3.1 An Analysis of a Course Book for A2 Learners (Primary Education)
  • 3.3.2 An Analysis of Course Books for B1 and B2 Learners (Secondary Education)
  • 4 Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence: Partial Studies
  • 4.1 Language and Culture Teaching in Pre-service Teacher Training
  • 4.2 Contemporary Literary Prose as a Source for Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • 4.2.1 Cultural Aspects of Society
  • 4.2.2 Cultural Traditions
  • 4.2.3 Cultural Values
  • 4.2.4 Cultural Connotations of Words and Phrases in the Target Language
  • 4.2.5 Culture-induced Discourse
  • 5 Conclusive Remarks
  • 5.1 A Three-year Research Project within the Research Scheme VEGA
  • 5.2 Partial Studies Concerning Intercultural Communicative Competence
  • References
  • Appendices
  • Series index

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This monograph is the result of an empirical investigation that sought to explore the relations between language and culture within language teaching and learning in Slovakia. The aim of the research project conducted within research scheme VEGA 1/0106/15 is based on theoretical insights into and empirical verification of the concept of intercultural communicative competence in the Slovak educational system. Therefore, our research focuses on the analysis of language curricula, selected target language course books and language teachers’ perceptions of intercultural communicative competence teaching.

In our research project, culture and its relation to language was analysed in two conceptual frameworks: one related to defining and teaching cultural aspects of target communities and another referring to language itself. Different ways of language teaching view teaching target culture(s) differently. As the Slovak national educational programme reflects changes in modern societies, the national curricula in target languages are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) (Council of Europe, 2001). The CEFR model of language use based on an action-oriented approach enables language learners to develop communicative language competence encompassing intercultural communicative competence.

To get a complex picture of what is going on in the country at three levels of education, English teachers, less or more experienced, and future teachers of English during their pre-service teacher training were provided with a set of questionnaires, analysed and discussed in this book. Observing language classes, we tried to recognise how language teachers bring target countries’ culture(s) into the classroom for learners to observe, experience, accept and tolerate the otherness related to target ←7 | 8→communities’ cultures and how language teachers support their students to become aware of their own culturally-induced behaviour and to be able to explain their own cultural standpoint.

The curricula analysis enabled us to discover some discrepancies between particular CEFR levels, officially claimed in the documents, and specific examples provided at different reference levels in all sections, mainly in the intercultural dimension section. The analysis reveals that the national curricula do not enable their users to get a clear distinction between cultural competence and intercultural competence. The investigation regarding language course books gives rise to many interesting questions in view of the fact that an analysis revealed inconsistency in presenting cultural aspects in a variety of course books and a vague notion of the concept regarding the development of intercultural communicative competence. On the other hand, authentic materials represented by contemporary literary prose might be considered a good resource for culture understanding as well as for learning a target language in its natural and appropriate form, acceptable by target culture representatives.

I highly appreciate co-operation with my colleagues who participated in project implementation, namely assoc. prof. Jana Bírová from the Faculty of Education, Comenius University in Bratislava, assoc. prof. Fabiano Gritti from the Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra and Dr. Xenia Liashuk from the Faculty of Education, Trnava University in Trnava, whose experiences in teaching French, Italian and German, respectively, enriched my perception of language teachers’ awareness of the intercultural dimension of target language teaching and learning and the extent into which different language course books focus on presenting cultural aspects and facilitate language learners to develop their intercultural communicative competence.

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The world is becoming more and more interconnected due to the intertwindness and interdependence of political, economic and social networks. Communication is very much part of each cultural group, and culture regulates human behaviour and identity in a number of ways. In this monograph, culture and communication are viewed within the language learning framework. Apart from learning a target language, based on learning to listen, speak, read and write, it is important to enable learners to learn to understand, to feel and behave in new ways. The focus on culture in target language learning and teaching encourages language learners to potentially transform themselves and the world around them. Intercultural language teaching and learning enables language learners to enrich their perception of the world and to view the world in its integrity. The rich diversity of human cultures can be understood predominantly through language learning. For example, the current consensus is that English as a lingua franca serves as a medium for understanding different cultures since it enables communication between non-native speakers from different cultural backgrounds. It has broadened its previous, narrowly-defined concept, in which English was viewed as a means of communication between native speakers and non-native speakers.

In Europe, the idea of international understanding through the learning of languages, history and cultures of other countries is promoted by the Council of Europe. A Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) promotes language learning as discovery about other cultures and hence acquisition of perspective about learners’ own culture (North, 2014). The learners’ ability to transfer skills and knowledge from one language to another encourages them to think of their plurilingual profile in a multicultural society.

1.1Culture as a Concept in the Language Learning Framework

Firstly, due to various approaches to culture as a concept, it is important to define the main terms that will be used in the framework of teaching and learning languages in this monograph. In spite of a large number of definitions of culture, the features that most definitions have in common are non-conscious and learnt acquisition of culture, in which culture is a system of interconnected assumptions, expectations, behaviours, etc. Although every ←11 | 12→human being is unique, the cultural parts are shared and learnt with others, for example, the language one speaks can serve as a model of other aspects of intercultural communication (Bennet, 2015b). In general, culture is seen as a learnt system of meanings that fosters a particular sense of shared identity and community among its group members. These members learn the meaning or interpretations of what constitute proper and improper conflict behaviours by adhering to or deviating from such behaviours in a particular community.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (October)
cultural awareness language and culture target languages teacher training reference levels effective communication
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 152 S., 11 Tab., 2 Graf.

Biographical notes

Jana Bérešová (Author)

Jana Bérešová teaches linguistic and ELT courses at Trnava University in Trnava, Slovakia. Her ideas referring to ELT are significantly influenced by the concepts and philosophies that are behind the CEFR. As a teacher trainer, she trains student teachers as well as primary/secondary-school teachers to develop their learners’ communicative competence, emphasising a number of them, intercultural communicative competence including. She has written a number of books and articles on methodology regarding both teaching and testing foreign languages, using authentic materials in target language class, supporting naturalness, appropriacy and accuracy in language learning. Her present interests include the intertwinedness between language and culture. All her current thoughts focus on language learners and their needs in the local context.


Title: Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence in Local ELT
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154 pages