The potential of the novel "Bend it like Beckham" for intercultural learning in the EFL classroom

Term Paper, 2008

17 Pages, Grade: 2



1. Introduction

2. What is Intercultural Communicative Competence?

3. Byram`s Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence

4. Short Summary of “Bend it like Beckham”

5. The title: “Bend it like Beckham“

6. The potential of “Bend it like Beckham” in the EFL classroom

7. Conclusion

8. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Intercultural communication has become more and more important over the past years because we live in a world where everything is becoming global. A few centuries ago, only people who dealt with international businesses needed to think about intercultural communication and its problems. Today, also ordinary people from different cultures come into contact with each other. Companies work more and more globally instead of locally. We live in a multicultural society with a variety of cultures. Intercultural communication has become a topic which concerns everybody. It will become more and more important in our world of globalization where people from all over the world come together and get in contact with each other.

Because of the aspects mentioned above, intercultural learning is an essential part in learning as well as in teaching. Intercultural aspects are involved in our daily life and this is why intercultural teaching is becoming more important. It should be an essential part of modern teaching. The subject English should help to develop students` intercultural awareness. The Kultusministerkonferenz considers intercultural learning as a key element of English language teaching. Because of this fact, the KMK put intercultural competence in the educational standards for grades 9 and 10 (cf.
1.Fremdsprache_MSA_BS_04-12-2003.pdf 10.10.2008, p. 16)

The novel “Bend it like Beckham” which is discussed in this work is very popular among young people. Football unites people from different nationalities, opinions, generations, classes, religions and cultures (cf. Thaler, 2006, p. 4). The language is understood anywhere in the world and this is why this novel is very adequate for teaching intercultural learning. Football is the most popular activity in Germany and kindles interest of the boys.

First of all, the following term paper “The potential of the novel Bend it like Beckham for intercultural learning in the EFL classroom” defines Intercultural Competence. Secondly, Byram`s Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence is presented. Afterwards a short summary about the novel “Bend it like Beckham” is given. A description of the title follows. The next aspect describes the potential of “Bend it like Beckham” in school. The term paper ends with a general conclusion and the bibliography.

2. What is Intercultural Communicative Competence?

Intercultural communicative competence is a huge topic in German publications since the early 1990s. It is an area of study that is becoming more relevant in the increasingly multicultural communities that we live in.

Intercultural competence means that people are able to get on with other people having a different culture and that people are able to deal with situations of intercultural contact. From this it follows that intercultural competence can be described as contextual socio-cultural knowledge (cf. 10.10.2008, S. 16). The definition of Auernheimer can nearly be put on the same level:

Interkulturelle Kompetenz definiere ich als das infinite Bemühen des kultur-gebundenen Menschen um die Nutzung des Potentials seiner Kulturfähigkeit, auf Unvertrautes (Fremdes) nicht nur mit Inklusion und Exklusion zu reagieren, sondern neue Erfahrungen auch über ethnisch-nationale Grenzen hinweg kreativ so zu verarbeiten, dass die Interessen der Beteiligten durch Abwägung aller Gesichtspunkte zu einem schonenden Ausgleich gebracht werden können, und dies auf der individuellen wie auf der institutionellen Ebene (Auernheimer, 2002, p. 156).

Intercultural competence is a term which covers certain abilities from which intercultural communicative competence is one part. In ICC[1], communication is the main topic.

Intercultural communicative competences are difficult to define. They are not only knowledge and a certain technique but also approaches which have a lot to do with feelings, savoir faire, thinking and dealing with situations that occur in life. Experiences in life influence the way of thinking, acting and the behaviour and give access to the dependence of cultures but also the ability and the willingness to analyze the perspective of different cultures.

In the following part I am going to describe which intercultural communicative competences students should be aware of when graduating with the Realschulabschluss:

Students should know elementary rules of communication and interaction of selected English and French speaking countries and they should also have certain knowledge of language at their disposal, which they can apply in familiar situations.

Students should:

- be curious about the foreign and open-minded to other cultures (as in Byram`s model).
- be able to behave adequately in situations of everyday life.
- be ready to empathize with other people of a foreign culture concerning their way of thinking and feeling.
- know all common stereotypes and prejudices of their own and the foreign country and set out with them.
- be able to perceive cultural differences, misunderstandings and conflicts, talk about them and try to cope with the situation (as in Byram`s model).
- be able to make unusual experiences and deal with them adequately not being afraid of the situation.
- The knowledge and accomplishments refer particularly to characteristics ofdomestic and foreign society and culture in the following scopes:
- every day life (school, leisure time, eating and drinking, work, habits, holidays)
- living conditions (standard of living, geographic and socio-cultural features)
- interpersonal relations

(cf. 10.10.2008, p. 16).

Because of the impression of our own culture, we perceive foreign cultures on the background of our own. This is why there is a need for the familiar and the strange to not be in opposition, but instead that the teacher and the students should discuss and also work on parallels between those cultures or other peoples’ way of life. Finally great value must be put on the fact that intercultural communicative competence is a process of learning during the whole life. This process is supported by several abilities, e.g. empathy, curiosity, humor, identity, tolerance concerning frustration and the potential to handle with and to solve conflicts (cf. Hecht-El Minshawi, Berninghausen, 2007, p. 6).

Byram developed a model for teaching ICC. He defines ICC as the ability to communicate and interact with people of different cultures using a foreign language (cf. Byram, 1997, p. 70). For him, intercultural communicative competence involves five elements, i.e. attitudes, knowledge, skills of interpreting and relating, skills of discovery and interaction and critical cultural awareness/political education. But I will describe his model more precisely later.


[1] short for Intercultural Communicative Competence.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


The potential of the novel "Bend it like Beckham" for intercultural learning in the EFL classroom
University of Frankfurt (Main)  (Institut für England- und Amerikastudien)
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intercultural learning, Bend it like Beckham, Kick it like Beckham, English Foreign Language Classroom
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Katharina Keil (Author), 2008, The potential of the novel "Bend it like Beckham" for intercultural learning in the EFL classroom, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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