Promoting the intercultural dimension requires a framework of accepted
classroom procedures that allows for the expression of and recognition of
cultural difference. These procedures should be based on human rights –
equal dignity and equal rights. They should be explicit and discussed with and
agreed by the group.
Procedural ground rules need to be established and adopted for discussion and
debate in class. Whether the context is pair work, group work or whole class
discussions, agreements such as the following apply:
• Participants are expected to listen to each other and take turns.
• Where a discussion is chaired, the authority of the chair is respected.
• Even heated debates must be conducted in polite language.
• Discriminatory remarks, particularly racist, sexist and homophobic discourse
and expressions are totally unacceptable at any time.
• Participants show respect when commenting on and describing people
portrayed in visuals or texts.
• All involved have the responsibility to challenge stereotypes.
• A respectful tone is required at all times.
It goes without saying that, teachers are party to these agreements and will not
use sarcasm, irony and disparaging judgements.
Learners and teachers will expect to examine and challenge generalisations or
stereotypes, and suggest or present other viewpoints. This is an essential part of
developing intercultural competence.
In oral work, learners can expect to discuss in pairs and small groups, as well as
in plenary. They should have opportunities for making a personal response to
images, stories, case-studies and other materials.
Tasks set should be carefully formulated and include explorations of opinion
gaps as well as information gaps. Learners bring considerable knowledge of their
familiar culture and some knowledge of cultures being studied. However, they do
not necessarily share the same knowledge, the same values or the same opinions.
Language learning to promote an intercultural dimension encourages a sharing
of knowledge and a discussion of values and opinions. Many intercultural and
antiracist educational programmes, such as the Council of Europe’s All Different,
All Equal campaign, are based on the principle of peer education. That means
that learners learn from each other as much as from the teacher or text-book. 26
An intercultural dimension involves learners in sharing their knowledge
with each other and discussing their opinions. There need to be agreed
rules for such discussions based on an understanding of human rights
and respect for others. Learners thus learn as much from each other as
from the teacher, comparing their own cultural context with the
unfamiliar contexts to which language learning introduces them.
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