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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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4. Research analyses


4.1. Document analyses

In this project, one of the aims was to analyse and compare three various documents concerning the cultural aspects recommended for teaching English at a primary school level. The documents for the analyses and comparisons were: the Common European Framework for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment A1 level (CERF, 2001), the Slovak pre-reform English curriculum for the primary school level (2001) and the current Slovak national curriculum for the English language ISCED 1 (2011). Slovak education, including foreign language education, is currently going through a curricular reform. The CEFR provides a basis for the elaboration of language curriculum guidelines, syllabi, textbooks, etc. across Europe. Also both Slovak curricular documents chosen for the analyses were based on the CEFR. The CEFR covers the cultural contexts in which languages are set and promotes the intercultural development of the learners. It recommends a combination of linguistic and cultural competences in order to develop socio-cultural knowledge, intercultural awareness, intercultural skills and know-how. From the beginning of the pupils’ education, the intercultural approach is especially important, as it promotes the favourable development of their personalities, attitudes towards other languages and cultures, and a sense of identity associate with the enriching experience of otherness in language and culture. This is also why the primary school level was chosen for this research, as it is important to include the intercultural approach in foreign language education from a very early age. Furthermore, during the time of curricular reform, there is a great...

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