An investigation into the intercultural competence of native and non-native English language teachers in London colleges

Jamali, Mehrnaz (2022) An investigation into the intercultural competence of native and non-native English language teachers in London colleges. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Intercultural communicative competence has come to be of greater interest in English language teaching and learning over the past decades. However, a review of relevant literature shows that there is a lack of research on English language teachers‘ perceptions of intercultural competence and how it could be promoted within ESOL and EFL colleges in London. Through interviews and non-participant observations in London colleges, this research examines native and non-native English language teachers‘ perceptions of intercultural competence and the factors conducive to the development of this competence. The study‘s aim is to establish how these factors can impact the teachers‘ educational beliefs and consequently their practices. Employing interviews and non-participant observations enabled the researcher to obtain further insight into native and non-native English language teachers‘ awareness of intercultural competence. Direct interpretation was the method used to analyse the data from both the interviews and observations. The analyses of the interviews were also triangulated with those of the observations.

My study reveals that native and non-native English language teachers seem to have implicitly internalised intercultural competence to some extent, and this competence has influenced their educational beliefs and practices to varying degrees. It should be noted however that most English language teachers had an indistinct view of intercultural competence; furthermore, only a few English language teachers were aware of intercultural competence and how it could be integrated effectively into their practices. This study also reveals that non-native English language teachers showed a broader awareness of intercultural competence (compared to the native teachers) and are thus more likely to teach it effectively. As evidenced in my observations, the lack of the promotion of intercultural competence could stem partly from native English language teachers‘ strong reliance on textbooks which do not include wide intercultural learning resources. Moreover, most of the native English language teachers did not employ broader resources of intercultural competence in their teaching instructions as a result of the teaching and learning activities they chose, i.e., emphasising linguistic competence, while a great number of non-native English language teachers were able to embed richer intercultural resources into their lessons and applied critical approaches to scrutinise current intercultural issues such as 'Brexit'.

My research also addresses the vital role of English language teachers‘ command of intercultural competence teaching. By demonstrating the lack of intercultural awareness of some of English language teachers in London colleges, this study therefore could, contribute not only to the development of English language teacher training programmes, but also demonstrate how this competence could be developed in the English language teaching field. Furthermore, this study helps educators to become aware of the lack of teaching of intercultural competence in some of London ESOL and EFL classes and provides them with suggestions including changing the contents of textbooks, assessment criteria, and adapting the curriculum in order to integrate more effective intercultural resources into teaching and learning activities that teachers carry out in those contexts. Therefore, my study could result in promoting more effective English language teacher training programmes that could embrace training teachers in intercultural competence and so enable it to be taught and integrated into English language teaching practice more purposefully.

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