Building intercultural competence in young learners

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At TESOL in Portland in March 2014, I was part of a panel that discussed issues of raising intercultural awareness for young learners. A synthesis of my talk is now available as an article from the newsletter of TESOL’s Applied Linguistics Interest Section. Here’s the beginning:

If we hope to help students gain awareness of cultural differences, we need to be sure that, as teachers, we are aware of how our own culture influences us. Cultural attitudes, belief systems, and values color the way that we look at the world and interact with it. For example, many TESOL members live and work in the United States or were raised in that culture. A few of the values identified as commonly exhibited by those living in the United States include the following:

•directness and assertiveness
• cooperation and fair play
• informality
• an orientation to action
• a strong sense of individualism as opposed to group orientation
• the importance of individual freedom and self-reliance
• the importance of privacy (Althen & Bennett, 2011; Datesman, Crandall, & Kearney, 2014)

If, as teachers, we are aware of the values that we carry as members of a particular culture, this will be helpful as we try to help others understand cultural differences.

You can read the rest of the article in Forum, the Newsletter of the Applied Linguistics Interest Section.

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