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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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3. An outline of the research undertaken

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3.1. Methodology of the research

The educational world is full of complexity, richness and contradictions and not everything can be easily measured and counted, some things have to be understood deeply and the methods of qualitative research fulfil these criteria. The qualitative approach is usually holistic and it seeks a description and interpretation of the “total phenomena”. It should be concerned more with description rather than prediction, induction rather than deduction, generation rather than verification of theory, construction rather than enumeration, and subjectivities rather than objective knowledge. The researchers become human instruments in the research, building on their tacit knowledge, using methods such as observation, interview, documentary analysis and other non-interfering methods. The advantage of human instruments are their adaptability, ability to handle sensitive things, ability to see the whole picture, ability to clarify and summarize, to explore and analyse (Cohen, Manion, Morrison, 2007). A qualitative research design was chosen for this study as the aim of the research was to capture a holistic view of cultural teaching within English language lessons in Slovakia. It offers a naturalistic inquiry through the methods of observation, interview and documentary analysis and provides opportunities to extract the experiences of complex teaching and learning environments. With the use of these three methods (triangulation) different elements of one phenomenon can be explored, inter-related and combined into a coherent, convincing and relevant explanation and argument.

While qualitative research in educational settings is quite a resent phenomenon, it has a long...

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