Intercultural language learning and teaching is much advocated in contemporary foreign and second language classroom contexts (Borghetti 2016; Kramsch 2006; Liddicoat & Scarino 2013). According to this perspective, language proficiency and knowledge of the target culture are no longer sufficient as learning aims; rather, intercultural development involves a wider set of abilities and attitudes which can be applied to understand a plurality of cultures, including one's own (Baker 2015). In today's multicultural societies, this may be much more relevant to learners than has traditionally been assumed. In such a context, the language teacher needs to introduce materials and resources that combine intercultural and linguistic aims.
Within this context and as an example of what we understand as intercultural language teaching, our presentation shows the use of intercultural activities in an Italian L2 elementary course at the Language Centre of Bologna University, attended both by exchange and degree-seekers students. The proposed learning materials are taken from the IEREST manual (Intercultural Educational Resources for Erasmus Students and their Teachers) (IEREST, 2015), and invite students to explore the notions of multiple identities, stereotype, prejudice, essentialism and ethnocentrism. They also encourage students to reflect on their intercultural learning objectives in relation to their intercultural encounters (IEREST, 13).
A research study was designed to explore how the students engaged with the activities, their level of commitment and the degree to which they considered the intercultural tasks to have had an influence on their behaviours, attitudes and beliefs about themselves and others. Students' reflections were collected after the completion of the tasks through audio-recorded semi-structured individual interviews. Data show individual differences in the students with regard to their interpretations of the proposed activity and its outcomes.
We will conclude our presentation with our own reflections as practitioners working in a university language centre on the importance of the intercultural dimension in foreign and second language teaching and learning.
Hoy día, el aprendizaje y la enseñanza de idiomas desde un punto de vista intercultural son muy recomendables. Nuestra presentación muestra el uso de una actividad de educación intercultural impartida dentro de un curso elemental de italiano L2 en el Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad de Bolonia, al que asistieron tanto estudiantes de intercambio como de licenciatura completa.
Las tareas interculturales invitan a los estudiantes a explorar nociones tales como identidades múltiples, estereotipos, prejuicios y etnocentrismo, y a reflexionar sobre sus objetivos de aprendizaje intercultural y sobre sus metas para estudiar en el extranjero en relación con sus encuentros interculturales.
Nuestro objetivo consistía en explorar la disposición de los estudiantes con respecto a las tareas interculturales, su nivel de participación y la influencia de éstas en sus comportamientos / actitudes / creencias.
Los datos, recopilados a través de entrevistas grabadas en audio, muestran diferencias individuales entre los estudiantes. Nuestra presentación concluye con nuestras reflexiones, como profesionales que trabajamos en un centro universitario de idiomas, sobre la importancia de la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de idiomas desde un punto de vista intercultural.
- Backer, W. (2015). Research into practice: cultural and intercultural awareness. Language teaching, 48(1), 130-41
- Borghetti, C. (2016). Educazione linguistica interculturale: origini, modelli, sviluppi recenti. Cesena: Caissa Italia
- Kramsch, C. (2006). Culture in language teaching. In: K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics, New York, NY: Elsevier, 322-329
- IEREST (2015). IEREST. Intercultural education resources for Erasmus students and their Teachers. Koper, Annales University Press. ISBN 978-961-6964-45-6 http://www.ierestproject.eu/sites/default/files/IEREST_manual_0.pdf
- Liddicoat, A. J., Scarino A. (2013). Intercultural language teaching and learning. New York: Wiley and Sons
Luisa Bavieri is Italian language teacher at the University of Bologna Language Centre since 2000. She obtained a PhD at the University of Bologna with a thesis on a methodological integrated approach to citizenship and second language teaching and learning. She has participated in national and international projects on language teaching and testing, on intercultural communication and education and on intercomprehension (CERCLU, CEFcult, IEREST, LECTURIO+). She has published on Italian L2 language teaching and learning, language testing, citizenship education, intercultural education.
Ana Beaven teaches English as the University of Bologna Language Centre. He has a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Warwick. Her main areas of interest are Virtual Exchange, Open Educational Resources, and Intercultural Language Learning and Teaching. She was the coordinator of the European project IEREST (Intercultural Education Resources for Erasmus Students and their Teachers).