Universidade de Vigo

“Not only English in Britain and the United States” -- teaching and learning English as a lingua franca

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Beyond the English spoken in Britain and in the United States, from where most speech patterns are traditionally taken in regular teaching, there are many other faces of English as a lingua franca in other countries where it is an official language, as is the case of South Africa or Australia, and still in others where English is used in commercial, cultural and educational exchanges. Why not tear down the stereotypes that both teachers and students have in an attempt to integrate cultural elements of these territories, thus reflecting the diversity of society? This idea underlied the work developed by a group of LVTC members, as part of a project funded by the European Union, under the coordination of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland), together with teams from the Catholic University of the West (Angers, France) and the University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu).

"Developing Intercultural Competence of European Teachers of English (DICETE)", says Dolores González-Álvarez, programme coordinator at the University of Vigo and member of the LVTC research group, "aims to make students acquire a range of skills for teaching English in relation to the concept interculturality in terms of content, methodology and materials, and to develop attitudes that in the near future will be implemented in the teaching of languages in the context of the European Union". Under the coordination of Dolores González-Álvarez, the teachers of the LVTC research group Rosalía Rodriguez-Vázquez, Ana Elina Martínez-Insua, Javier Pérez-Guerra and Esperanza Rama-Martínez as well as a dozen of undergraduate and master students of the Faculty of Philology and Translation, came to participate in a two-week meeting in Poland, in which representatives of the four universities involved in the project worked in advancing the teaching and learning process from the perspective of interculturality.

The origin of the programme and the participation of the University of Vigo: The project began in 2013 when the University Nicolaus Copernicus contacted the other teams to start the academic design of the project. Since September 2013 the four teams have conducted a series of videoconferences with the objective of developing teaching materials and a database of bibliographical resources on the teaching and learning of foreign languages from the point of view of interculturality, and of planning sessions and questionnaires.

Two weeks of intense work in Poland: During the two-week intensive program in Torun, the team of teachers and students of the University of Vigo was either in charge of the sessions or monitored the sessions led by the other universities. The aim was to compare the systems and the materials for teaching English in the four countries, with special attention to the intercultural contents presented in classes, textbooks and other materials, in order to develop their ability to review and create units with high intercultural content. The conclusions reached in the programme will be used to develop written work to be disseminated in specialized forums and through a specific webpage. The program will also be used to establish cooperation agreements and exchange of students and staff.