Foreign Language Teaching and Intercultural Citizenship

Document Type : Original Article


Universities of Durham, UK & Luxembourg


In the ‘cultural turn’ which has taken place in recent decades – in theory if not yet in practice – the crucial question is ‘What should a language teacher’s aims be?’ This will be the main focus of this paper. There are however other questions which are frequently raised in the new context, questions about the relationships among ‘language’, ‘identity’ and ‘culture’. If language learning influences identity or even creates new identities, should this be one of the aims of teaching? At the same time it is important to place foreign language teaching in the wider context of all language teaching: national languages, heritage languages, and minority languages. I will attempt to take these other factors into account while addressing the main issue of teaching aims. Teachers’ aims should be both functional and educational. Language teaching of all kinds – but my main concern will be foreign language teaching as practiced in general education – should develop competence for communication and interaction whilst stimulating critical thinking and action in the world. In order to illustrate this, I will turn to some recent work which realises new theory in practice and combines the aims of language education and education for citizenship in the concept of intercultural citizenship.