Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Connecting Global Dimension with Global Citizenship, Culture and Interculturality

Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

In my previous post, I drafted an inaccurate definition of global dimension. Actually, that definition was construed by talking about the concept with Natalia Iglesias and Sabina Bora in the first meeting. It’s interesting to notice that so far I haven’t found any relevant result in Spanish by googling La Dimensión Global. You can find more information about this concept on Prof. David Hicks’ Teaching For A Better World website, however.

At our second meeting, we were asked to relate global dimension, global citizenship (more about this concept on Oxfam Education website and in Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter?), culture (more definitions of this concept on Texas A&M University) and interculturality by drawing a mindmap. Here’s my first draft:

Notice that though global citizenship is thought to be one of the eight elements through which the global dimension is understood, I suggest that global citizenship is developed through global dimension since the latter is an approach to education.

Then, following Prof. Michael Byram‘s ideas (Byram et al., 2002: 11-13), we explored the concept of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) as a set of attitudes, knowledge and skills which are complemented by the set of values one holds.

To be more precise, ICC consists of…

a) Attitudes (savoir être) that involve
- curiosity
- openness
- readiness to suspend disbelief about other cultures and belief about one’s culture
- willingness to relativise one’s own values, beliefs and behaviours;

b) Knowledge (savoirs) of
- social groups (including their identities, practices and products) and
- illustrations of those groups (including their identities, practices and products);

c) Skills of
(savoir comprendre)
- comparing new knowledge from another culture
- interpreting new knowledge from another culture
- relating new knowledge from another culture to one’s own
(savoir apprendre/faire)
- finding out and integrating new knowledge from another culture, and
- interacting appropriately in real-time communication; and

d) Critical cultural awareness (savoir s’engager) or the ability to evaluate, critically and on the basis of explicit criteria, perspectives, practices and products in one’s own and other cultures.

To develop ICC in our classrooms, we should move from the traditional communicative language teaching approaches in which the native speaker’s language variety is the target language towards a conception of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) in which interlanguage or the learner language is now accepted as a valid language.

We should choose appropriate materials and resources and plan activities in which students are given the opportunity to explore cultural issues from different perspectives. The materials and resources should be chosen taking account of the pros and cons involved when dealing with the target culture vs. the source culture vs. the international culture.

That is, we should ask ourselves:
  • Up to what extent are the materials and resources relevant to students?
  • Up to what extent are the materials and resources interesting to students?
  • Up to what extent may the materials and resources cause cultural conflict?
  • Up to what extent will the materials and resources help students learn more about their own culture? Do the materials and resources have any potential for fostering interculturality?
  • Up to what extent are cultural references explicit in the materials and resources?
  • Up to what extent are diverse contexts illustrated in the materials and resources?
  • If the materials and resources are somehow biased, to what extent do the activities help student to identify different points of view, stereotypes and prejudices?

By the way, why is it that Compfight keeps on turning out photos of Mardi Gras parades or people wearing traditional outfits when I type cultural diversity in the search box? Is that the only way cultural diversity can be shown by this searching tool? (See the screenshot below or click on the links above)


Byram, M., B. Gribkova and H. Starkey. (2002). Developing the Intercultural Dimension in Language Teaching. A Practical Introduction for Teachers. Language Policy Division, Directorate of School, Out-of-School and Higher Education, DGIV. Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Available at [retrieved 21.04.2013]

Byram, M. (2009). Plurilingual and intercultural competences; two elements of a single European language policy. Available at [retrieved 20.04.2013]

Friday, April 19, 2013

The beginning of a new journey: exploring the Global Dimension in the English lesson

Photo Credit: vpickering via Compfight cc

At our first meeting, we talked about the Global Dimension. The following questions led our discussion.

What is the Global Dimension (GD)?

GD has to do with interacting, communicating, getting to know people from different cultures. It involves working with materials and resources moving from an egocentric point of view towards a world-centric perspective. Along these lines, the responsible and adequate use of ICT can enhance the impact of the aims of GD within each community.

Here an interesting website in which you can find some useful resources: Global Dimension … the world in your classroom run by Moira Jenkins.

How can you introduce GD in your classes?

We can have students reading articles (from magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc.) or listening to radio interviews or watching TV documentaries about cultural issues such as typical lifestyles, traditions and celebrations, jobs and trades, fashion, music, clothes, food and dishes, social justice, diversity and inclusion, equality, racism, participation, values, interdependence, etc in our culture and in other cultures.

We could encourage students to spot similarities and differences in order to get a deeper and better knowledge of our culture and that of others’.

Are there any examples/samples of GD in course books?

In Buenos Aires Province, secondary school libraries were given the course book series: New Headway (only Beginner and Pre-intermediate), Opportunities (only Elementary and Pre-intermediate), Up Close and Your Choice Next in 2004. Later in 2011, they were given Engage (only Starter and Level 2), For Teens (only levels 1 to 3) and What’s Up? (only levels 1 and 2).

Generally speaking, these are the typical course books you can find in the Argentinian ELT market. They just tend to deal with cultural issues from an ethnocentric perspective. Though they include materials (written/oral texts and mainly pictures and photos), the materials aren’t exploited through the activities.

That is, these books don’t include activities that help students explore the issue in a deeper way. Most of the activities are aimed at fostering global comprehension, specific comprehension and recognition of a grammatical structure. There’s not reflection on the cultural aspects presented. The visual materials used tend to show stereotyped images (like the ones on this post), or sometimes, what is shown is presented as unusual.

The main issue in all of these books is that the lack of awareness and reflection on cultural issues may result in legitimising the values underlying these materials. This doesn’t mean these books shouldn’t be used. Actually, this is a good opportunity for teachers to plan activities that help students develop their intercultural competence.

We could give students texts about the same issues discussed in these course books but from an opposing/different perspective and have students comparing and contrasting the underlying views. We could plan activities following Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Thinking Skills so that we ensure that students explore the cultural issues in depth. You can find some more ideas here: Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking. Anyway, maybe, we, teacher, should first ask ourselves: how can we become global citizens and expand our horizons?

Photo Credit: vpickering via Compfight cc


Corradi, L., A. Rabinovich, C. Echevarría, E. Trelles and E. Menéndez. (2005). For Teens 1 and 2. Student’s Book + Workbook. Buenos Aires: Pearson Education S. A.

Corradi, L. and A. Rabinovich, (2006). For Teens 3. Student’s Book + Workbook. Buenos Aires: Pearson Education S. A.

Downie, M., S. Taylor and J. M. Jiménez. (2004). Your Choice Next 1, 2 and 3. Student’s Book plus integrated activities with audio CD. Argentina: Richmond Publishing – Ediciones Santillana S. A.

Harris, M, D. Mower y A. Sikorzyńska. (2004). Opportunities. Elementary and Pre-Intermediate. Students’ Book. Argentina: Pearson Education Ltd.

Manin, G. J. and A. Artusi. (2008). Engage. Starter and Level 2. Student Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Myers, C., S. Jackson, D. Lynam and S. C. Tiberio. (2007). What’s Up? 1 and 2. Student’s Book + Workbook, Workbook CD, Extra practice and Fast Finishers’ activities. Argentina: Pearson Education S. A.

Soars, J. y L. Soars. (2000). New Headway English Course. Beginner and Pre-Intermediate. Student’s Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Uhl Chamot, A., I. Rainey de Díaz, J. Baker-González, D. Gordon y N. Weinstein. (2002). Up Close 1, 2 and 3. English for Global Communication. Student’s Book. USA: Thompson-Heinle.