Announcement 6

Special Issue on Teaching and Learning Intercultural Communication in the Second/Foreign Language Classroom


Language teaching and learning has undergone a ‘cultural turn’ since the emergence of ‘Communicative Language Teaching’ and ‘the Communicative Approach’ in the 1970s. The earlier study of language, which led to the study of literary and other texts, had neglected the need for ‘communicative competence’— the ability to use language in socially appropriate ways. However, perhaps as a consequence of globalisation, new technologies, and mass economic and other kinds of migration, it has become clear that social appropriateness and politeness is not enough. This new social context requires consideration of the ways of thinking and acting of people of different languages — including those of the language learners themselves — and how this might impact on successful communication and interaction. The ‘cultural turn’ – the introduction of ‘intercultural competence’ to complement ‘communicative competence’ – has further refined the notion of what it is to be competent for communication. Teachers and learners now need to be ‘aware’ of other people’s ‘cultures’ as well as their own, and therefore, the term ‘intercultural (communicative) competence’ has emerged, along with other terms such as ‘cultural awareness’ and ‘transnational competence’.

Despite this ‘cultural turn’, and the attention to intercultural competence, the purposes of language teaching remain the same: to develop the ability to communicate. However, in addition, some language teachers have also recognised the opportunity to re-integrate the aims of the liberal educational philosophy which had been attached to language teaching in the 19th century, i.e. the personal development of the individual through empathetic understanding of other countries, peoples and their languages, characterised by Humboldt’s notion of Bildung.

These changes suggest that methods of teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence are still very much under development. This special issue of The Language Learning Journal will address issues arising from the changes in the purposes and practices of language teaching since the ‘cultural turn’. We invite articles that explore these questions through conceptual analysis, empirical research, curriculum development, or any combination of these. In particular, we invite articles from authors in the field of language teaching, especially those working in ‘non-western’ traditions, who may have alternative views of ‘the cultural turn.’

Articles might deal with one or more of the following:

–         The aims and purposes of language teaching after ‘the cultural turn’

–         Intercultural (communicative) competences beyond ‘the cultural turn’

–         Questions of assessment of intercultural competence

–         The training of teachers for ‘the cultural turn’

–         Critical or other teaching pedagogies that empower learners for (or beyond) ‘the cultural turn’

–         Curriculum design which enables learners to engage with other ways of thinking and acting whilst learning one or more languages

–         Language policy change and development that accounts for ‘the cultural turn’

Articles should be around 6,000 to 7,000 words. For further inquiries, please direct your questions to Professor Mike Byram or Dr Prue Holmes

Abstracts for proposed papers should be submitted by 30 October 2011.

Decisions on which papers will be included will be conveyed to authors by 30 November 2011

First drafts will be expected for 28 February 2012


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