Developing an interconnected multilingual intercultural framework for improved intercultural approaches in schools

Year: 2019

Author: Fielding, Ruth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Intercultural understanding has increasingly been cited as an educational aim for developing world citizens (ACARA, 2015; NESA, 2018). Our current monolingually-focussed curriculum is not fostering open-mindedness, tolerance and global views for all learners. Intercultural understanding appears to be of increasing importance as we encounter acts of intolerance locally and globally. Intercultural understanding is also an essential component of a socially just education. Current approaches to intercultural understanding are insufficient as Dervin & Gross (2016, p.3) indicate: “an approach to intercultural competence that fails to point coherently, cohesively and consistently to the complexity of self and the other fails to accomplish what it should do”. In this paper I propose an integrated theory of multilingual intercultural identity in which multilingual identity (Author, 2011, 2013, 2015; Block, 2006, 2007; Fisher et al, 2018; May, 2014, Paris, 2011) intersects with intercultural languages education as a means to foster deep intercultural understanding throughout schooling with the potential for lifelong impact through intrapersonal development (Dervin & Gross, 2016; Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013; Scarino, 2014). The growth of intercultural understanding as an educational outcome necessitates further consideration of its theoretical underpinnings. An intercultural stance within languages education has been embraced within curriculum planning in Australia (ACARA, 2015; NESA 2018;). Yet the termintercultural needs further consideration to ensure that intrapersonal development is centrally embedded within intercultural approaches. The core component making an intercultural stance (as defined within languages education) different from its predecessors is reciprocity – that is a focus on mutual understanding (Scarino, 2014) and intracultural change – one must undergo personal change in order to better understand others. The key focus is therefore identity development as a process, where identities are considered to be evolving, and where self-awareness goes hand-in-hand with understanding others. This paper outlines the theoretical frame bringing together a multilingual approach and an intercultural approach and reports on a linguistic analysis of curriculum documents in Australia. Terms relating to linguistic identity and intercultural understanding within curriculum documents in Australia were analysed using an intercultural identity frame to understand points of intersection and overlap. The results indicate a need for deeper understanding of the central role of identity within intercultural stance, and a need for deeper and further consideration of how to implement intercultural understanding in a meaningful and long-lasting way within education locally and globally.