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It is a new trend in foreign language teaching that takes into consideration the nature of social, cultural and pragmatic aspects of language. This implies that the aims of language teaching should include both intercultural and linguistic competences; prepare students for interaction with people of other culture s ; enable them to understand and accept people from other culture s who have their own perspectives, values and behaviors; and help them to see that such interaction is an inspiring, enriching, educational and new experience Byram et al.

He proposed a model that consists of the following five factors or components: 1. This factor includes a range of communication forms, including verbal and non- verbal modes and the development of linguistic, sociolinguistic and discourse competencies. Of these components we believe that the critical cultural awareness is an essential concept in an intercultural approach to language teaching Agudelo, , 92 as this paper tries to support.

Byram also maintains that the FL classroom can offer enough opportunities for the acquisition of those skills; knowledge and attitudes mentioned above on the condition that it proceeds under the guidance of a teacher see Skopinskaja, , p.

Language learning

The bases of intercultural awareness and competence are seen and reflected in the attitudes of the intercultural speaker and mediator Byram, This Byram et al. Students, in order to be successful intercultural communicators, have to develop attitudes that help them open to the others and be interested in their culture Parmenter, This confidently can be done in language teaching classes with syllabuses and teachers who believe in language as a cultural phenomenon and who have enough intercultural awareness.

In addition to that, Byram et al. In this way, learners discover not only the differences, but also the advantages and disadvantages of a new culture. If they compare and evaluate what they observe and study, they will be able to perceive differently and see the world with new eyes Longo, , On the other hand , Guilherme believes that learning and using languages cannot be seen from a narrow pragmatic perspective but it is about citizenship and democracy as well ; it is about how people with different needs and goals deal with contexts of diversity.

Pennycook thinks that teaching is a process of political engagement and the curriculum should be based on themes of social relevance to students. It is worth to mention here that the concept of democracy in education was emphasized by John Dewey , p. According to him, the history of science is the history of a conversation of an international community. Logically, this is best done by creative and disciplined democratic classroom dialogue Garrison and Lawwill, , p. Pennycook goes farther and urges readers to think of educational institutions as "cultural and political arenas" p.

Accordingly, we also think, that there always exists a political dimension and implication in foreign language education. Finally, intercultural speakers, language learners and mediators need, as mentioned above, a critical awareness of themselves and their values, as well as those of other people, see Byram et al. They also need to become aware of how their values influence their views of other people's values.

Their role, with the advent of intercultural communicative approach, changes; they are no longer passive observers or imitators of target language speakers but rather are active participants in an exploration into the other and self. The role of the language teacher is a supportive one, which is to provide learners with the means to understand their own culture and at the same time to learn to relate to the social world inhabited by their interlocutors.

Language teachers have to introduce and develop skills, attitudes and awareness of values just as much as to develop knowledge of a particular culture or country by including terms and topics about human rights, equality, dignity; gender; bias; prejudice; stereotype; racism, ethnic minority and the names of ethnic groups Comprehensiveness, coherence and transparency Foreign Language Council of Europe, as well as precision play a great role in developing intercultural communicative awareness and competence among learners Robatjazi, , p. To conclude our above discussion, IA is connected with the concepts of culture and communicative competence.

It requires that students acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and critical culture awareness to communicate interculturally, Parmenter, , p. Intercultural language learning is not simply a method of embedding language, culture and learning, but rather an overall orientation, a way of thinking and doing, a stance and overall perspective which influences all decisions regarding curriculum Asian Education Foundation, , p.

In terms of FL classroom practice Intercultural Awareness refers to activities connected with behavior and speech patterns, such as appropriate choices for conversation topics, opening and closing a conversation, criticizing and complaining, stereotyping, reacting to culture shock, personal space restrictions and non-verbal communication. The communicative language teaching is the methodology to be used in achieving the aims of this paper i.

The intercultural approach cannot be seen as an approach outside the umbrella of the communicative language teaching; it is a division of the communicative language teaching like other divisions and it plays a role in communicative skills where students need to construct and keep interpersonal relations in different social situations Longo, The intercultural approach aims at giving learners both intercultural awareness and linguistic awareness with competencies as learners need linguistic knowledge and skills as well as the ability to use the language in socially and culturally appropriate ways.

It can also prepare learners to interact with people of other cultures and enable them to understand and accept each other as individuals with distinctive perspectives, values and behaviors Chlopek, The intercultural approach involves an understanding of the social context in which language is used, which is one of the main and most important principles of the communicative language teaching; it is the culture specific context where values, norms, beliefs and behavior patterns of a culture are taken into consideration Sarem and Qasimi, Conclusion Both intercultural awareness IA and linguistic awareness LA are crucial and vital in foreign language teaching if one wants to learn and understand a language properly and appropriately, and they should be included in an intercultural communicative approach to foreign language teaching.

This requires new methodological approaches that can provide learners with the means and ways of accessing and analyzing a wide range of cultural practices and meanings ; can help learners develop understanding of the processes involved when interact with people from different cultural backgrounds Humphrey, ; can promote and develop critical and creative thinking, mutual understanding , tolerance , acceptance , human rights , democracy and prepare learners to cope with and face life at large outside and beyond the classroom; those learners who are equipped with knowledge about their own culture and the target culture.

Foreign language teachers should be trained in language education programs that afford not only linguistic expertise skills, knowledge and proficiency in the structural aspects of the language, but also in the appropriate usage of language in diverse socio-cultural contexts, and to be enrolled in workshops dealing with general cultural issues, anthropology and human rights aspects. Teachers, before learners, must have intercultural communicative awareness and competence so that they will be able to teach and raise both linguistic and intercultural awareness in foreign languages classes effectively and competently.

Learning foreign languages must be linked to the lives of the students; it should go beyond the classroom in order to be able to inquire into their worlds; to interact and cope with life at large confidently. References Agudelo, J. An intercultural approach for language teaching: Developing critical cultural awareness.

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New centre for excellence to boost modern foreign language skills

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The training of foreign language teachers: developments in Europe

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