zondag 18 mei 2014

Intercultural speaker

The intercultural speaker is the language learner who is allowed to retain his or her social, linguistic, and cultural baggage (House, 2007) and isn’t required to imitate the native speaker and leave behind that which makes him or her unique. In the complex multicultural world in which we live, we need intercultural speakers to serve as mediators who can interact with speakers of other languages on equal terms, respect their individuality, and maintain awareness of their own identity (Byramet al., 2002). This can only be achieved if we view language learners as multicompetent language users rather than deficient native speakers (Cook, 1999) and we develop their intercultural communicative competence, so they can recognize the similarities and differences between their native and non-native cultures (Coperías-Aguilar, 2007). As House (2007) exemplified “the intercultural speaker is the person who has managed to develop his or her own third way, in between the other cultures he or she is familiar with” and “who knows and can perform in both his and her native culture and in another one acquired at some later date” (p.19).

The native-speaker model focuses on the achievement of native-speaker proficiency and assimilation into the new culture without taking into consideration the learner's experiences, values, and beliefs. Furthermore, it creates an imbalance of power in favor of the native-speaker language, which can lower the learner's self-esteem and negate his or her social and cultural identity. Therefore, the intercultural speaker is an ideal model that language learners and language teachers should seek to attain. It is dynamic in nature and doesn't have a fixed goal, because the ability to mediate in different contexts, learn and understand distinct cultures and perspectives, and self-reflect on one's identity is a continuous process. Thus, the intercultural speaker model redefines the role of communication as a tool for the further development of knowledge and understanding of culture and one's part in our complex and multicultural world.

In order to achieve their goal of mediators, intercultural speakers need to have:

  • the knowledge of social groups, their identities and perspectives, and the process of intercultural interaction;
  • the skills to compare, interpret, and relate writings from different cultures, and
  • the ability to discover and interact with new knowledge and cultural practices;
  • the attitudes of openess and readiness to decenter and understand other people; and
  • the critical cultural awareness of their own values and how they influence their views of other people.

These factors or savoirs  (Byram. as cited by Coperias-Aguilar, 2007), focus on culture and the relationship between cultures. It is the language teacher's role to develop these savoirs and help learners understand how intercultural interaction takes place and how social identities affect this interaction. Byram places special emphasis on the critical cultural awareness element. He believes it is important to see ourselves as others see us, to see our world from the outside and become more thoughtful and critical of what we take for granted, and to develop critical independent life-long learners. According to the following figure from Coperias-Aguilar (2007), these factors include the goals listed above (knowledge, skills, attitudes, practices and awarenesses) and provide a more detailed description for each savoirs.

[ Bron: http://languageeducation.pbworks.com/w/page/47700811/Intercultural%20Speakers ]