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Intercultural Aspects in Teaching English at Primary Schools

Eva Reid

Slovak education, including foreign language education, is going through curricular reform. Even though the development of intercultural communicative competences is claimed to be one of the key aims of foreign language teaching, recent research suggests that most teaching time is devoted to the development of grammatical and vocabulary skills, and that it is often difficult to convince English teachers that the teaching of culture ought to be a primary goal. From her own first hand experience of living in foreign countries and through teaching, the author has learned the importance of intercultural competence for communicating successfully in a foreign language with speakers from cultures different to one’s own. This study features a qualitative approach to the intercultural dimensions of English language teaching in Slovak primary schools, including observations and interviews, along with analysis of relevant policy and curricular materials.
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1. A Statement of the Problem

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The research problem that the monograph addresses is the topic of intercultural communication, as it is becoming more and more valid in today’s world. Intercultural communicative competence is most often connected with the ability to communicate in a foreign language, but intercultural competence is not necessarily dependant on knowledge of the foreign language. However, paradoxically learning a foreign language should be complemented with learning cultural contents in order to acquire intercultural communicative competence. This is the reason why the current research concentrates on acquiring intercultural competences within English language teaching. Slovak education, including foreign language education in Slovakia, is going through curricular reform. The Slovak curricular documents for foreign language teaching are based on the Common European Framework for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR, 2001) and one of the main priorities of the CEFR is to equip pupils with the ability to communicate appropriately with across linguistic and cultural boundaries in multicultural and multilingual Europe. The CEFR was chosen as the reference document for the comparative analyses with the Slovak curricular documents. In this project I want to concentrate on how cultural content is implemented within English language teaching within primary education. The A1 level was chosen according to the CEFR, which represents the end of the fifth year of primary school (11 years of age). This research primarily deals with the first level of language proficiency (A1), which is in this case the age of young school children (as they form attitudes towards other languages and cultures...

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