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MA Education for a Sustainable Environment

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Language Education as Intercultural Practice

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70041
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit explores the cultural and intercultural complexities of (English) language teaching in an era of increasing interconnectivity, transnational flows, multiculturalism, and, in the case of English, fast developing understandings of lingua franca teaching and usage. The course encourages teachers to develop an understanding of their practice as intercultural and to articulate, in ways which are informed, experience-led, and context-sensitive (i.e. appropriate methodology), how their teaching is responsive to the cultural and/or intercultural complexities facing them in their context.  


This unit has a pre-requisite of a minimum two years of language teaching experience


In a spirit of context-sensitive/appropriate methodology, to critically review the role and practice of English language teaching in diverse contexts across the globe;

Drawing on insights from, in particular, intercultural communication/education, to consider repositioning their English language teaching as intercultural practice

To explore the implications of such repositioning for materials and course evaluation, adaptation, and development.


Teaching and learning methods

This course unit, as supported with online teaching resources in Blackboard, will involve a mix of didactic and experiential elements in classes, consolidated through group tutorials.

Knowledge and understanding

To understand the differing ways in which key terms (e.g. culture, communication, and intercultural communication) are used and to have considered the most useful ways of doing so for their own context;

To understand the differing paradigm possibilities for teaching English, especially EFL and ELF, and to have considered the ways in which their contexts might be enriched with insights from ELF;

To understand the processes of cultural learning (e.g. enculturation and acculturation) and to have considered how they might prepare their students for such learning in conjunction with language teaching;

To understand differing ways of conceptualising culture (e.g. cultural dimensions and small cultures) and applying these conceptualisations to teaching and learning; and

To understand the main issues and trajectories evident in the developing thinking about teaching cultural and intercultural content in conjunction to language teaching

Intellectual skills

To articulate a principled approach to enriching the teaching and learning in their context so that it better addresses the increasing interconnectivities, transnational flows, and multiculturailty of our time.

Practical skills

To evaluate their context, teaching and learning practices, and materials in cultural / intercultural terms.

To develop teaching and learning practices, and materials and approaches enriched by insights from ELF and other relevant thinking.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

To develop enhanced skills in interpersonal and intercultural communication;

To develop enhanced skills in team-work and collaborative practice;

To demonstrate an ability to apply critical reflection to professional practice as language teachers.

Employability skills

Group/team working
in developing language learning courses and materials
Problem solving
Written communication
Interpersonal and intercultural communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Formative tutor and peer feedback (through the final ‘share-in’ session’) on students’ developing ideas for their individualised assignment; tutor feedback on the same through both online and face-to-face modalities; and written tutor feedback on the final assignment, feedback which has both formative and summative dimensions.

Recommended reading

Initial introductory reading (personal perspectives):

Hoffman, E. (1989). Lost in translation. New York, Penguin.

Kaplani, G. (2010) A short border handbook. (translated by A.-M. Stanton-Ife). London: Portabello Books

Lvovich, N. (1997). The multilingual self. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.


Focusing on intercultural communication (conceptual perspectives):

Agar, M. (1994). Language shock: understanding the culture of communication. New York: William Morrow.

Bennett, M. (ed.) (1998). Basic concepts of intercultural communication. Yarmouth, ME.: Intercultural Press.

Holliday, A.R., Hyde, M. and Kullman, J. (2004). Intercultural communication: an advanced resource book. London: Routledge.

Jandt, F. (1998). Intercultural communication: an introduction (2nd edn.). London: Sage. [or later edition]

O’Sullivan, K. (1994). Understanding ways: communicating between cultures. Sydney, New South Wales: Hale and Iremonger.

Samovar, L. and Porter, R. (eds.) (1997). Intercultural communication: a reader (8th edn). Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth. [or later edition]

Storti, C. (1999). Figuring foreigners out: a practical guide. Yarmouth, ME.: Intercultural Press.


Focusing on language education (pedagogical and political perspectives):

Byram, M. (1989). Cultural studies in foreign language education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Damen, L. (1987). Cultural learning: the fifth dimension in the language classroom. Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Holliday, A. (1994). Appropriate methodology and social context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holliday, A. (2005). The struggle to teach English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2007). Cultural globalization and language education. New haven, CT/London: Yale University Press.

McKay, S.L. (2002). Teaching English as an international language: rethinking goals and objectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pennycook, A. (1994). The cultural politics of English as an international language. London: Longman.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 24
Tutorials 6
Work based learning 60
Independent study hours
Independent study 60

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Fay Unit coordinator

Additional notes

One assignment chosen from a set of options. Participants are provided with a significant amount of structured choice in deciding which assignment option to take. 3000 - 3500 words 

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