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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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2. Defining the main areas and concepts of research

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In order to outline the current research coherently, it is important to first give theoretical explanations and background for my research concerning the concept and role of culture in foreign language education; methods, techniques and materials for teaching culture; and research carried out in related areas. Professor Michael Byram is the most cited academic in this work, as he is considered to be one of the most significant specialists in the area of acquiring intercultural competences within foreign language education. He has published numerous books and articles on intercultural studies, foreign language learning, education for intercultural citizenship, teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence, cultures, etc.

1.1. Concept of culture in foreign language education

There is a great variety of possibilities and occasions for people to use a foreign language. Nowadays, people are travelling outside the boundaries of their own countries more and more and are thus coming into contact with members of different cultures, where they have an opportunity not only to use a foreign language, but also use the skills of intercultural communication. Intercultural communication is therefore a very important part of foreign language education.

Researching relationships between languages and cultures is a rich source of knowledge for foreign language education. It is not important in foreign language education to demonstrate the influence of language on the way people think and act, or vice versa, but it is important to know that language, thinking and culture are inseparable elements, which have...

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