To what extent may the approaches advocated by Byram and Teaching English as an International Language be said to be different from more traditional ways of teaching culture in foreign language...

To what extent may the approaches advocated by Byram and Teaching English as an International Language be said to be different from more traditional ways of teaching culture in foreign language education?

 

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Traditionally, teaching a foreign language asks learners to learn the target language as if they were native speakers, and this process does not account for the learner's own culture and the way in which it affects the acquisition of another language. In addition, traditional foreign language learning treats target languages as a single language associated with a single culture and a single territory (for example, French is only connected with France). In contrast, Byram's model of "intercultural communicative competence" and the method of teaching English as International Language take into account the ability of the learner to interact with people who have multiple identities and complexities to create a shared understanding. 

Byram suggests there are many facets of international cultural competence, including the following:

  • attitudes/affective ability to recognize the identities of others and have empathy and tolerance for others
  • behavior: the capacity to be flexible in one's communications
  • cognitive ability to understand cultures

Byram's approach asks learners to not only use cognitive means to learn a new language but also to learn behavioral and affective competencies. Byram's model, unlike more traditional models, asks learners to adopt a more flexible and critical relationship between language and culture and to develop greater intercultural competence that they can use in any new culture. In other words, what people use in learning English can be applied to their acquisition of other languages and their understanding of other cultures. 

Sources:

Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Lai, H-Y T. (2014). Learning English as an international language: EFL learners' perceptions of cultural knowledge acquisition in the English classroom. Asian Social Science; Vol. 10, No. 1. http://doi:10.5539/ass.v10n1p1