Intercultural learning on the example of Asian British Literature

Term Paper, 2013

23 Pages, Grade: 10




1. Bildungsstandards
1.1. Competences
1.2. Intercultural Competences
1.3 Intercultural communicative Competence

2. Culture

3. Intercultural Learning on the example of literature
3.1 Literature
3.2 Black and Asian British Literature

4. Teaching Proposal
4.1 Learning Goals
4.2 Object analysis
4.3. Analysis of the short Novel
4.4. Didactical Approach
4.5 Methodological Approach

5. Conclusion

6. References

7. Appendix


The following term paper was written for the seminar `teaching Black and Asian British Literature and Film’ conducted by the instructor XXX in the module TEFL III at the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen in the summer semester 2013.

London, the capital of Great Britain, in minds of most people, exists mainly of white citizens. But London as an immigration point of all its Commonwealth States became one of the most multicultural cities and is much more colorful in its cultural diversity than to be only a pure white British society.

For this reason, it is very important to teach in an EFL class next to the typical British facts, like sights and towns and the language with its vocabulary and grammar itself, which are thought for generations in the EFL classroom, also the information about the multicultural live in London and give students a deep impression about it and gain their understanding on the situation and the problems of the different ethnic groups of immigrants, which are living together in Great Britain. Because culture is much more than existing as only a nationality.

Today, intercultural competence is an important goal to teach and learn. Times of teaching only the four skills are finally identified not to be enough for a necessary communication in a foreign language and an interaction between people of different cultures.

According to this, in chapter one I will start to give a short overview about the Bildungsstandards and will focus on the intercultural competences. In chapter two I will define the term ‘culture’ and explain the meaning of culture on the example of the iceberg model. In the following chapter three I will give an impression about intercultural learning with focus on literature and what its context means for learners and teachers. After this in chapter four, an example of a possibility of an intercultural teaching proposal on the main task of the Asian British short story ‘a pair of jeans” by Qaisra Shahraz will be given, analyzed and explained didactical and methodological. The term paper will end with a conclusion.

1. Bildungsstandards

After the PISA shock of 2001 and the followed idea of a necessary paradigm shift and a revision of the German curriculum, which ended up with the idea of creating a new curriculum which would concentrate on the important points of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEF) and its defined skills, which are divided into six levels of language achievement and the Bildungsstandards, including its competences. In this way, a transparent comparison formed in standards could be created to overall improve the learner´s education and to ensure better outcomes in future international tests. Paradigm shifts appear by the time the old paradigm is not able to handle the problems resulting through the old paradigm anymore or is over rolled by the society. In Germany a paradigm shift started with the overall improvement of the old curriculum and the teaching system (cf. Hallet 2006: 21).

Before the new paradigm shift implemented the Bildungsstandards, the focus was set on the four basic skills in the communicative skill: reading, writing, speaking and listening. These four skills where put together into two dimensions each: the receptive skills (listening and reading), the productive skills (speaking and writing), the oral skills (listening and speaking) and the written skills (reading and writing) (cf. Haß 2012: 20). After this, the focus was set in the Bildungsstandards on the competences, which refer to the CEF.

The key competences which are presented in the Bildungsstandards, are divided into communicative, methodological and intercultural competences. These competences include among others the ability to understand (read and hear), speak and write in the foreign language. Naturally these include the basis of vocabulary and basic grammar and are defined in ‘can-do-statements’ within each learners level.

The German curriculum will not be replaced by the Bildungsstandards or the CEF, but will rather be enhanced by them. The CEF as well as the Bildungsstandards define a certain ‘outcome’, basically what skills the learners should be able to acquire or to perform in a certain point in time. Compared to that, the German curriculum focuses on the ‘input’. Therefore, it clearly defines the content of each school grade and tells in that prescriptive way, what is to be learned.

1.1. Competences

To talk about competences, it is important to understand what they are and where the differences between skills and competences are. While skills define special abilities like listening, speaking, reading and writing (“the four skills”) to accomplish given tasks, a competence has to be seen as an action-based approach in which students have to fulfill everyday situations in a social context in different activities. “This is why the CEF talks of competences as the more comprehensive term which includes certain skills but which stresses the fact that language learning and language use consists of more than just language-related skills” (Müller-Hartmann 2007: 58). A short definition of the Council of Europe describes them as: “the sum of knowledge, skills and characteristics that all allow a person to perform actions” (2001: 9).

1.2. Intercultural Competences

“Ein Englischunterricht, in dem kein Englisch gelernt wird – z.B. weil Shakespeare auf Deutsch gelesen wird [] annulliert sich als Schulfach selbst (Beck 2007: 292). This quotation clearly highlights the importance of the ability to use the target language itself by learning a foreign language. But what happens if the focus is not only set on the linguistic aspect of the language any longer, but rather focuses on the content? Intercultural competence can be seen as the key competence in foreign language classes. Besides the necessary basic communicative competences and their abilities like the skills, grammar, vocabulary and intonation and the methodical competences, the intercultural competence goes beyond these borders and increases learners to be aware of cultural similarities and differences and to provide the learners with a sufficient knowledge to prevail in a real life situation. It is not a collection of facts about the target culture; it is a basis for a respectful and possible interaction between two groups of cultures. An example for this could be to know about taboo topics and other behaviors, like traditions, mimic and gestures.

“Except for the new media, hardly any field of foreign language teaching and learning during the last fifteen years has seen such a comprehensive development as that of teaching culture” (Müller-Hartmann 2007 : 109). This quotation shows of clearly the hard way of its process, full of different discussions, concepts and theories which had to increase and develop to form into the new standards of today.

To become an ideal native speaker, the social factors of a language, like the sociolinguistic norms, behaviors, habits, cultural traditions, mimics, gestures and intonation also have to be studied to gain a deep understanding of the culture itself. In this way, stereotypical thinking and criticism can be reduced. Erll talks about the importance of the intercultural competence as a result of the misunderstandings during interactions between people of different cultures, which is challenged and driven by globalization, multiculturalism and internalization. “Fremdenfeindlichkeit ist nur die äußerste Konsequenz mangelnder interkultureller Kompetenz” (Erll 2007: 6). She also mentions that the linguistic knowledge of a language is not the only condition to achieve a successful intercultural communication but a great relief: “Positiv wirkt sich die sprachliche Kompetenz freilich in der Regel nicht zuletzt auch deshalb auf die interkulturelle Kompetenz aus, weil mit dem Spracherwerb oft ein weiter reichender Prozess der Auseinandersetzung mit der jeweiligen Zielkultur einhergeht“ (Erll 2007: 14). Only in this way a change of perspective is possible. And this gains to a respectful and peaceful togetherness with a deeper understanding of each other’s culture and a reducing of misunderstanding or even racism in a multicultural society in every form of interactions.

Interkulturelle Kompetenz zeigt sich in der Fähigkeit, kulturelle Bedingungen und Einflussfaktoren in Wahrnehmen, Urteilen, Empfinden und Handeln bei sich selbst und bei anderen Personen zu erfassen, zu respektieren, zu würdigen und produktiv zu nutzen im Sinne einer wechselseitigem Anpassung, von Toleranz gegenüber Inkompatibilitäten und einer Entwicklung hin zu synergieträchtigen Formen der Zusammenarbeit, des Zusammenlebens und handlungswirksamer Orientierungsmuster in Bezug auf Weltinterpretation und Weltgestaltung (Erll after Thomas: 2007: 10).

Because of its importance of gaining tolerance and understanding between different cultures, Intercultural competence should not only be thought in an EFL classroom. It can be taught in almost every subject.

1.3 Intercultural communicative Competence

The CEF describes the intercultural communicative competence as the main goal of foreign language learning and explains the learner within to “become plurilingual and develops interculturality. The linguistic and cultural competences in respect of each language are modified by knowledge of each other and contribute to intercultural awareness, skills and know-how” (Müller-Hartmann 2007: 18).

If only the linguistic part of language is thought, a communication is hardly possible. “Sometimes the speakers are not completely conscious of all these factors and cannot understand why they are failing to communicate even when they are both quite competent in the language as such” (Byram 2000: 97).

Especially foreign cultures aspects like attitudes and values, terms which are not visible, are difficult to understand. “Überall auf der Welt dienen konventionalisierte Zeichen den Menschen zur Verständigung. Diese Standardisierung der Kommunikation kann sich auf die Geste des Kopfnickens ebenso beziehen wie auf bestimmte Wörter, “ (Erll 2007: 20).These differences in cultural specific communication makes it hard to understand and interpret a culture, if someone does not know about it. So even someone might be able to speak the language of the target culture, he or she still might not be able to communicate right if for example the knowledge about gestures or signs has not been learned.

2. Culture

To talk about ‘intercultural learning’, it is important to really understand what the term ‘culture’ means by itself. What is culture? How is culture? What do we know about other cultures? Where are the similarities and the differences? How could ‘culture’ be defined? Culture is much more than a language or a political system. But what makes the difference between the one and another culture, in the way they differ in seeing the world, in communicating or sharing believes?


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Intercultural learning on the example of Asian British Literature
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
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intercultural, asian, british, literature
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Nadine Custer (Author), 2013, Intercultural learning on the example of Asian British Literature, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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