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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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One of the priorities of European Union is to equip modern European citizens with the abilities to communicate effectively across linguistic and cultural boundaries in multicultural and multilingual Europe. In order to fulfil these needs, European citizens have to be interculturally communicatively competent. This was the main reason for conducting the current research, which investigated how ICCs are developed within English language lessons in Slovak primary schools. The aim of the research was to specifically identify, analyse and compare the intercultural contents in the Slovak curricula and English language lessons in primary schools in Slovakia. Three curricular documents were analysed, actual English language lessons observed and English language teachers interviewed concerning the extent, content, methods, techniques and materials used for developing the pupils’ ICC. By triangulation of methods, the findings from individual methods were compared for parallels, clashes and supplemented with additional information.

The monograph began by stating the research problem, including specific research aims and questions, where one main aim and three further subsequent research aims were set. Three research questions were created with regard to the main research aim and these were supplemented by four further research questions.

The theoretical element of the study provided a considerable foundation for the current research. The concepts and role of culture within English language education were analysed and discussed. The Common European Framework for Languages (2001) was included and analysed as it serves as a model for creating national curricula in the European countries and...

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