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An Intercultural Reader

The purpose of this reader is to give some background articles (where we have permission to reprint them), some reviews of articles and books and some further references, for those who are interested in following up an interest in contemporary developments in Culture in ELT.

It is an area which is continually developing and it is not obvious what the final outcome will be - these links will give you a feel of the range of ideas and the present position.

Intercultural Learning by Chris Rose is a brief, straightforward and very useful two-part introduction for college students and FL methodologists. It can be found on the joint BC and BBC website Teaching English.

An Intercultural Approach to English Language Teaching (Multilingual Matters 2003 - see www.multilingualmatters.com for more details) by John Corbett will give the best general book-length introduction to the field with plenty of further references.

Professor Michael Byram is recognised as a leader in the field of intercultural approaches to FLT. Here you can find two interviews with him where he outlines his current thinking on intercultural competence and talks of how his personal involvement grew: The Concept of Intercultural Competence and The Roots of Culture-in-Language Teaching

The results of a survey into present cultural practice in the FLT classroom can be found in Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence - Polish questionnaire results Ewa Bandura along with the attitudes of Polish teachers to intercultural approaches

Most of the books mentioned below can be found in the British Studies Resource Points found in teaching colleges and British Council libraries throughout Poland.

English as an International Language (EIL)
Theoretical background
Central and Eastern European coursebook projects


If you are really interested in getting academic the webpages of our fellow BC Poland project Cultural Studies in Britain and Poland will give you information together with a very useful annotated links page with sections on popular culture, theory, media, film, music etc. In addition you can find the abstracts of the GlobE conferences of the University of Warsaw’s Applied Linguistics department for excellent ideas on the state of current thinking on globalisation, English and intercultural communication.


For many people in Poland the work of Beth Edginton formed their introduction to intercultural approaches - especially valuable as she had spent some time here and gave a personalised response full of interesting illustrations. A Cross-cultural Approach to British Studies is more popular and The Cross-cultural Construction of National Identity more theoretical.

Simon Gill has taught in the Czech republic for a number of years and Where is my home? explores intercultural issues of identity

An article based on an extensive classroom survey of current intercultural practice among school teachers is a Cross-cultural study on cross-cultural awareness by Lucyna Aleksandrowicz University of Białystok, Ildiko Lazar University of Budapest and Liljana Skopinskaja University of Tallinn. It can be found on the archive of Network magazine


Intercultural Studies for Language Teachers (a distance learning course in Bulgaria) has an excellent introduction to this ‘minefield’ in its introduction. See What are Intercultural approaches?

The reasoning behind the British Council's shift from British Studies to Intercultural Studies is given by Nick Wadham-Smith the editor of BS Now


For those interested in writing ELT materials from an intercultural perspective Alan Pulverness has written a background justification in his article Here and there: issues in materials development for intercultural learning. In addition you will find a general Materials Development Bibliography.

Little has been published on actually applying intercultural approaches in the classroom and this issue is discussed in The Foreign Language Classroom, Culture and British Studies Richard Bolt and Towards intercultural literacy in a Polish FL classroom Maria Walat

Zoom In is a very interesting coursebook published in Hungary under the guidance of Mark Andrews and Uwe Pohl, and its teacher’s book contains an introduction to their intercultural methodology - which we have reprinted here. See Introduction to Zoom In and The Hungarian British Studies in Secondary Schools Project - Personal Reflections.

The following organisations have plenty of resources but, as they are part of mainstream FLT education in the UK (not TEFL), they tend not to be known, however in terms of culture methodology they are more advanced.

  • The Interculture Project of Lancaster University
  • LARA (Learning and Residence Abroad)
  • CILT (Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research)
  • Council of Europe - very actively involved and involving the participation of Prof Michael Byram

English as an international language (EIL)

A particularly useful article is that by Cem Alptekin which provides an excellent (and brief) introduction to both cultural and methodological sides.

David Crystal A Language Revolution explores the current role of English with regard to dying languages. In addition we have a review of his book, Language Death.
Alptekin, C. “Towards intercultural communicative competence” ELT Journal 56/1 Jan 2002 Graddol, D. 1997. The Future of English The British Council. Can be downloaded free with adobe acrobat at www.britishcouncil.org.uk
Crystal, D. 1997. English as a Global Language. CUP Canto
Phillipson, R. 1992. Linguistic Imperialism. OUP


Ethnography is put forward as a more objective method for intercultural analysis, especially when taking advantage of a stay in a foreign country. Celia Roberts has been working on a project with foreign language assistants and this experience adds value to her work.

Roberts, C. 1994. Ethnographic Approaches to Cultural Learning.
Roberts, C. et. al. 2001. Language Learners as Ethnographers. OUP. (See Małgorzata Zdybiewska’s review: Language Learners as Ethnographers)

LARA (Learning and Residence Abroad) Introduction to Ethnography for Language Learners is a good brief introduction

Tsvetkova, N & Karastateva, V Ethnography? (What) does it Have to do with Language Education?

Theoretical background

The work of Claire Kramsch and Michael Byram in particular forms the theoretical background. Interestingly neither of them is involved in ELT but in French and German as foreign languages - thus emphasising the multilingual/multicultural background to intercultural approaches. Not all these books are available in BC libraries

Roberts, C. et. al. 2001. Language Learners as Ethnographers. OUP.
Kramsch, C. 1993. Context and Culture in Language Teaching. OUP.
Byram, M. & Fleming, M. 1998. Language Learning in Intercultural Perspective. CUP.
Byram, M., Nichols, A. & Stevens, D (eds) 2001. Developing Intercultural Competence in Practice. Multilingual Matters. This is one of an extensive and valuable series from this publisher which chart the growth of intercultural approaches in the last 15 years See http://www.multilingualmatters.com/

Central and Eastern European coursebook projects

Many developments in Central and Eastern Europe have followed intercultural approaches resulting in a wide variety of experimental coursebooks with a great deal of interest in them. Many are available in British Studies resource points.

King, A. et al. 1998. Crossing Cultures The British Council, Romania.
Pulverness, A & Reid-Thomas, H. 1998. Branching out: a cultural studies syllabus.The British Council, Bulgaria.
Collie, J. 2000. Lifestyles. The British Council, Czech Republic
Andrews, M. et. al. 2001. Zoom In. Swan Communication.
Pulverness, A. 2002. Changing Skies. Swan Communication.
Mountford, A. & Wadham-Smith, N. 1999. British Studies: intercultural perspectives. Longman. This gives an overview of approaches in a number of countries.


This is an approach to communication emphasising pragmatics and the cultural contexts of (mis)communication. It is fashionable and an expanding area bringing together business studies and ethnic studies for example as unlikely partners of the political right and left under its umbrella.

British Studies Now and its autumn 2002 edition Issue 16: Mapping the Intercultural is devoted to interculturalism. Issue 3 is also on this theme. These and all back issues of British Studies Now can be downloaded and read with adobe acrobat (freely downloadable software) at http://www.britishcouncil.org/studies/index.htm

An intercultural bibliography and website guide can be found on pp 14-15 of Issue 16, though few are valuable at school level. The editorial and opening article (pp 2-4) give an outline of the discipline

IALIC (the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication) is a professional association with conferences, publications etc devoted to this theme

A well-liked book found in a number of resource points is
Scollon, R & Scollon, S 1995 Intercultural Communication: a discourse approach Blackwell

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