The XIX World Congress of FIPLV (Recife,March 24 -26 l997) had as its central them Toward Intercultural Understanding for the 21st Century. By stressing such a crucial dimension of language education, that event has helped pave the way for what I would call a movement in favor of the identification, recognition, and implementation of teachers' and learners' intercultural rights. The latter are conceived not only as a new relation of cultural rights or as a kind of residual cultural rights but rather as another growth point from which an ever-broadening and ever-deepening concept of human rights can develop, so that new context be created for individuals, groups, and communities to understand and respect one another's systems of beliefs, values, and attitudes, as reflected by choices made by users of languages.
In order that each teacher and student can develop the maximum of his or her intercultural potential, educational systems and organizations functioning therein should cooperate so that Article 27(1) of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS "everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community" can be applied cross-culturally, thus leading to what has been highlighted by Article 28 in the 1996 UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF LINGUISTIC RIGHTS : "All language communities are entitled to an education which will enable their members to acquire a thorough knowledge of their cultural heritage (history, geography, literature, and other manifestations of their own culture), as well as the most extensive possible knowledge of any other culture they may wish to know". The UDLR's emphasis on the need for education to "always be at the service of linguistic and cultural diversity and of harmonious relations between language communities throughout the world" (Article 23: 3) is a powerful reminder to all of us concerned with constructing and sustaining a global cross-cultural vision. In such spirit, I have been including the cooperative formulation of language teachers' intercultural rights and responsibilities in workshops for Brazilian teacher trainers and teachers as, for example, in the Seminar for teachers of Portuguese as a foreign language, sponsored by SIPLE - International Society for the Teaching of Portuguese as a FL, held in Nitersi, Rio de Janeiro State, October 1996.
Here is one example of one of such intercultural rights for teachers: Teachers should have the right to be prepared to interpret perceptions of their national cultures by key thinkers( in arts, education, politics, science, etc.), through their speeches and/or written texts and to be able to compare such perceptions with those of corresponding thinkers in other cultures.
Here is an example of an intercultural responsibility of language teachers:
Teachers should challenge their students identify and correct stereotyped perceptions of aspects of their own culture as well as of the culture in which the new language is embedded.
How effectively have we been doing our job as cross-cultural agents? Although over 50 years have elapsed since the phrase "cross-cultural studies" started being used in the literature, and notwithstanding advances in cross-cultural communication research, since Lado's classic ( 4O years old in l997) Linguistics across cultures, much remains to be done by us, either as teacher-educators and/or teachers ourselves, to contribute significantly to making the Intercultural Rights and Responsibilities of students a permanent component in the process of language learning. If, as Kramsch et al cogently put it, "even a first-year learner of a foreign language" is a cross-cultural decision-maker, it follows that the formidable task of preparing teachers accordingly likes on the shoulders of far-sighted, innovative professional communities such as those within the expanding FIPLV network.
May this be a plea for us to do our job as a effectively as possible, so as to live up to the principles of cross-cultural understanding, tolerance, and communicative peace characterizing FIPLV 's organizational vision and mission.
Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. World Conference on Linguistic Rights. Barcelona, June 1996. International PEN and CIEMEN. 27-page quadrilingual text:Catalan, French, English, and Spanish. Available on the Internet at this site http://www.troc.es/mercator/dudl-gb.htm.
Lado, R. 1957. Linguistics across Cultures. Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan Press (note the conceptual-terminology vitality of the phrase "across cultures" in the current specialized literature).
Kramsch, C., A. Cain & E. Murphy-Lejeune, 1996. ‘Why should language teachers teach culture? In: Genevihve Zarate, Michael Byram and Elizabeth Murphy-Lejeune (Eds) Special issue on Cultural Representation in
Language Learning and Teacher Training. Vol.9: 1.
Language, Culture, and Curriculum. Multilingual Matters, Clevedon, U.K.,p.106
Editor’s note: Dr. Francisco Gomes de Matos is a professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil. He has been advocating a humanrights-and-peace approach to language teaching since 1977. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: 55-81-3268670
La réunion du Bureau de la FIPLV qui s'est tenue à Lübeck (Allemagne) les 26 et 27 septembre a fait le point de l'action entreprise depuis le Congrès de Recife :
A nouveau, il a été beaucoup question de l'Amérique latine : avec Denis Cunningham, j'ai envoyé une lettre aux associations membres de cette région, ainsi qu'à diverses personnes rencontrées à Recife, afin de leur proposer de constituer, avec l'aide de Francisco Gomes de Matos, un Bureau provisoire de la Région qui serait chargé de coordonner les premières activités et la mise en place d'une structure plus institutionnelle. Nous avons appris que la Région Europe du Nord - Baltique, nouvellement créée, s'était réunie mi-septembre à Reykjavik et avait désigné Terttu Valojärvi comme Présidente de la Région et représentante au sein du Conseil mondial.
Il a été question aussi, à nouveau, de Droits linguistiques. Conformément au souhait de l'Assemblée Mondiale de Recife, j'ai fait parvenir à toutes les associations membres le texte de la Déclaration de Barcelone, ainsi que l'appréciation exprimée officiellement par la FIPLV (cf. FIPLV World News n° 37, sept. 96). Dans ce courrier, je les invite à développer la discussion avec leurs partenaires respectifs, dans chaque pays. Lors de cette discussion, il semble important que les associations membres de la FIPLV soulignent à la fois la nécessité d'une Déclaration reconnue par tous les Etats, et le bien fondé des propositions de modification de la Déclaration de Barcelone présentées par notre
Bien sûr, nous avons également parlé de nouveaux projets. Nous espérons beaucoup que le Colloque « L'enseignement des langues et la Paix » que nous voulions organiser en 1997 avec les associations membres des pays de la région des Balkans pourra avoir lieu en 1998, avec l'appui du Conseil de l'Europe et du Centre Européen pour les Langues Vivantes de Graz. Nous avons fait une demande en ce sens. Denis Cunnigham a mis au point le projet de recherche sur l'activité des associations dans le domaine de la formation professionnelle des enseignants de langues. Et j'ai proposé quelques idées de départ pour le lancement du projet qui aura pour objectif de rassembler et d'analyser les textes relatifs à la politique linguistique produits par nos associations.
Et naturellement, il a été question du 20ème Congrès de la FIPLV, qui aura lieu en juillet de l'an 2000 à Paris. Nous voulons faire de ce Congrès l'oeuvre commune de toutes les associations membres et des Régions de la Fédération. Toutes doivent y contribuer de façon active. Le Congrès de la FIPLV est leur Congrès. Le Bureau a réfléchi à des modalités d'organisation qui permettent de les impliquer fortement. Je m'adresserai bientôt aux associations et aux Régions pour les leur proposer.
J'ai déjà précisé, dans le numéro précédent de notre bulletin, que j'aurai la responsabilité de coordonner l'organisation de ce Congrès. C'est pourquoi cette dernière « lettre » s'intitule « à bientôt » : à bientôt dans les pages de FIPLV World News, à bientôt à Paris.
Je souhaite au nouveau Bureau beaucoup de succès. Mon prédécesseur, Ted Batley, avait su engager la Fédération vers la Régionalisation, condition indispensable à sa mondialisation effective.Grâce aux efforts de tous, nous avons progressé dans ce domaine. Il reviendra au prochain Bureau de concrétiser les options qui ont été prises hors d'Europe, en particulier en Asie du Sud-Est - Pacifique du Sud-Ouest et en Amérique latine. Je souhaite vivement qu'il sache trouver les moyens d'une solidarité effective et concrète avec les enseignants de langues des régions du monde les plus démunies, et donc, tout particulièrement, l'Afrique.
Tout cela est très difficile à réaliser. Et je mesure la distance qui sépare ce que je souhaitais accomplir de ce qui a pu être fait. Mais je suis sûr que notre Fédération, sous la Présidence de Denis, progressera encore vers ce que nous rêvons tous qu'elle soit : le lieu de rencontre des enseignants de toutes langues, venant des divers horizons du monde; l'instrument efficace de leur action commune en faveur de la compréhension et de la tolérance, de la solidarité et de la Paix.
The formation of an FIPLV region for Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific was originally envisaged to take place in 1994. At this stage, we believed Linguapax IV would take place in Perth (Australia) in tandem with the AFMLTA Inc. Biennial National Languages Conference. However, for a number of reasons, Linguapax IV did not take place in Perth, representatives could not be funded and the planned Regional Assembly (and formation of the Region) did not eventuate.
During the period of early 1995, the identification of regional contacts continued through local networks and by some international unilingual associations sending lists of their affiliates in the Pacific area.
Funded by UNESCO, Linguapax V took place in mid-1995 in Melbourne (Australia). The International Linguapax Committee kindly endorsed the funded participation of key representatives - who had also worked in the areas related to Linguapax - of neighbouring associations : Stanley Perera, President of MLTASL (Sri Lanka); Lynn Williams, President of NZALT (New Zealand); and Kip Cates, Convener of the Special Interest Group on Global Issues of JALT (Japan). Executive members of AFMLTA Inc. (Australia) were also present.
Linguapax, consequently, provided the means and focus for a meeting of the above regional representatives and FIPLV Executive members. All present were urged to encourage local members of their associations to support the initiative and become involved. The publication and extensive distribution of Linguapax V further supported the objective of forming an FIPLV Region, the thrust of Recommendation # 13 of Linguapax V.
The formation of an official UNESCO Linguapax Delegation to provide considerable exposure of Linguapax in the JALT '96 Conference program, also facilitated a meeting with members of JALT and representatives of neighbouring countries : New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Thailand.
Draft 'Internal Regulations' were prepared and accompanied a letter sent in early 1997 to regional contacts. Responses were requested by mid-1997. Unfortunately, no formal response was received, despite ongoing communication with local associations.
The tyranny of distance, the diversity of linguistic and cultural background, and the paucity of direct FIPLV membership in the vast area covered by Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, were all predictable factors of potential difficulty. These, however, are not insuperable. Another attempt is essential, after obtaining updated lists of contacts from all international unilingual associations. Future steps must also include the endeavour of a FIPLV presence and involvement in language specific activities of affiliates of international unilingual associations and in events organised by multilingual groups and associations in the area.
On the 22nd and 23rd of April 1997 I participated in the session of Non-Governmental Organisations (N.G.O.) of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg as a representative of the FIPLV. The session of the Cultural Heritage comprised nine papers given by members of the Cultural Heritage Committee headed by Mr.M. G. Mezei, the President. Mr. Mezei presented a an introductory speech on the significance of the maintenance of and a continual care about the cultural heritage, as well as on the necessity of the cultural heritage further development and accessibility to those interested in it, to scholars, students but also to young people.
The common topic of the following papers was the Council of Europe’s assistance in the maintenance of the cultural heritage (renovation of buildings famous for their architecture, restoration of paintings, statues, old manuscripts, books, repairs of castles, cathedrals etc.). A number of slides and pictures of restored works of art. And maintained works of historic value from various countries were shown (Spain, France, Germany, Poland, but also of a little baroque town of Ceský Krumlov in Czech Republic). Furthermore, papers concerning technologies of the maintenance of the cultural monuments (computer and laser services, electrical echographic methods etc.) were described, followed by the accountant’s report. The audience of the about six hundred people was informed about the large sums of money on the European cultural heritage by the Council of Europe.
My contribution to the discussion included information about the FIPLV. The idea I put forward was that an indispensable part of the cultural heritage that should also be maintained, cared about and developed, might be our languages, both mother tongues and the languages we teach and learn. The concept of cultural heritage might include not only the heritage of the past, like old manuscripts, the 16th century paintings, but also the heritage that is being created in the present times - buildings being built, pictures being painted, books being written, etc. - the process sometimes lacking financial and social support. These ideas seemed to have found a good response since a number of people met me during the break and offered their co-operation within the FIPLV, its policy, and administration.
I hope my presentation of the FIPLV provided the most positive image of the Fédération in the Council of Europe. Since this session a large number of the Council of Europe monthly programmes, texts of declarations and other materials are continually sent to my address. If any FIPLV member is interested in these materials I am ready to forward them to his/her address.
2 November IATEFL. Theme: Developing Human Resources
& Cross-cultural Management. Venue: Milan, Italy. Information: IATEFL,
3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, UK. Phone +
44 (0) 1227 276528, Facsimile +44 (0)1227 274415.
Email: 10007.1327@Compuserve.com. Worldwide Web http: //www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/
6 -7 November 6th IATEFL Poland. Venue: Lód?, Poland. Information: IATEFL, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, UK. Phone + 44 (0) 1227 276528, Facsimile +44 (0)1227 274415. Email 10007.1327@Compuserve.com. Worldwide Web http: //www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/
8 - 9 November IATEFL Young Learner SIG & British Council Istanbul. Theme: The Integration of Information Technology to Young Learners ELT. Kultur Koleji, Istanbul, Turkey. Information: IATEFL, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, UK. Phone + 44 (0) 1227 276528, Facsimile +44 (0)1227 274415. Email 10007.1327@Compuserve.com. Worldwide Web http: //www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/
14 - 16 November IATEFL BESIG International Conference. Venue: VHS Reutlingen, Germany. Information: IATEFL, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, UK. Phone + 44 (0) 1227 276528, Facsimile +44 (0)1227 274415. Email 10007.1327@Compuserve.com. Worldwide Web http: //www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/
20-23 November 17th Annual Meeting of AATF. Venue: Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Information: Fred jenkins, AATF Headquarters, 57 E. Armory Ave, Champaign, IL 61820, USA. Fax: 812/855 2386, email: AATF@indiana.edu
24 - 25 November 1st Congress of SIPLE. Theme: Produç?o de material didático; Cooperaç?o institucional na formaç?o de professores; Interaç?o na sala de aula; Politicas lingüisticas; Produç?o e leitura de textos. Venue: Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói - E. Do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Information: SIPLE, Universidade Federal Fluminense, rua Visc. Do Rio Branco, s/n - Campus do Gragoatá - Instituto de Letras - 5 andar, Bloco C, Niterói - RJ, Brasil - CEP 24.210.200, phone: (021) 717-4082, fax: (021) 616-1049
27 - 30 December Conference of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA). Venue: to be announced. Information: MLA, 10 Astor Place, New York, New York 10003-6981, USA.
7 - 8 January 1st LEVERAGE Conference. Theme: Education in the communication age. Venue: Homerton College, University of Cambridge. Information: Alison Cutler, CILT Conferences, 20 Bedfordbury, London WC2N 4LB, phone: + 44 (0) 171 379 5101 Ext 240, e-mail: email@example.com
17 - 21 March Annual Meeting of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Theme: Connecting Our Global Community. Venue: Seattle, Washington USA. Information: TESOL Convention Department, 1600 Cameron Street, Ste. 300, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, USA; phone: 703-836-0774.
21-22 March LMS Conference. Theme: Language and Culture. Information: Gunilla Bouvin, Byvagen 39, S-133 34 Saltsjobaden, Sewden; Fax: +46-8-717 25 19
30 March-3 April UNESCO International Conference. Theme: Education for the 21st Century in the Asia-Pacific Region: The Four Pillars of Education. Venue: Carlton Crest Hotel, Albert Park Lake, Melbourne. Information: Geoff Haw, Manager, UNESCO Conference Secretariat, Dpt. of Education, Level 6 North Rialto Tower, GPO Box 4367, Melbourne 3001, phone: + 61 03 9628 4958, fax: + 61 03 9628 2091, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, hhtp://www.dse.vic.gov.au/cis/unesconf
1-5 April An Interdisciplinary Centenary Conference. Theme: The Lewis Carroll Phenomenon. Venue: University of Wales Cardiff. Information: Karen Sands, SECAP, University of Wales Cardiff, PO Box 94, Cardiff CF1 3XB UK. Fax: The Lewis Carroll Phenomenon: + 44 1222 874502, e-mail: email@example.com; http://wwww.cf.ac.uk/uwcc/secap/carfest/carefest.html
3-5 April Conference "Language World" of the Association for Language Learning (ALL). Venue: to be announced. Information: ALL, C. Wilding, 16 Regent Place, Rugby CV21 2PN, United Kingdom.
14-18 April 32nd IATEFL International Conference. Venue: UMIST, Manchester. Information: IATEFL, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, UK. Phone + 44 (0) 1227 276528, Facsimile +44 (0)1227 274415. Email 10007.1327@Compuserve.com. Worldwide Web http: //www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/.
16-18 April Fremdsprachenkongreß FMF & F Luxemburg. Theme: Moderner Fremdsprachenunterricht f?r die (zuk?nftigen?) B?rger Europas. Venue: Luxemburg. Information: St. Helmut P. Hagge, Lichtensteinweg 23, D-22391 Hamburg, Germany.
20-22 April RELC Seminar on Language Teaching. Theme: New Insights for the Language Teacher. Venue: Singapore. InformationSeminar Secretariat, SEAMEO Regional Language Centre, 30 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258352, Republic of Singapore. Phone: (65) 737 9044, fax: (65) 734 2753; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.relc.org.sg
1-3 May 31st Pozna? Linguistic Meeting (PLM). Theme: Recent developements in linguistic theory. Venue: Adam Mickiewicz University, Pozna?. Information: Katarzyna Dziubalska-Ko?aczyk, School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, al. Niepodleg?o?ci 4, 61-874 Pozna?, Poland; tel: +48 61 852-88-20; fax: +48 61 852-31-03; email: email@example.com
13-15 May 11th International Conference on Foreign and Second Language Acquisition. Venue: Szczyrk, Poland. Information: Prof. Janusz Arabski, Institute of English, the University of Silesia, ul. ?ytnia 10, 41-205 Sosnowie, Poland; tel/fax: + 4832 191 74 17.
24-27 June 4th International Conference of the Association for Language Awareness. Venue: Sainte-Foy, Quebec. Information: Joyce M.Angio, Department des langues, Cegep de Sainte-Foy, 2410, chemin Sainte-Foy, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada G1V1T3; tel: (418) 659-6600ext.4487; fax: (481) 659-4563;email: firstname.lastname@example.org
6-9 July 8th International Conference on Functional Grammar.Venue: Amsterdam. Information: Prof. J.L. Mackenzie, Department of English, Faculty of Letters, Varije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, Netherlands; e-mail: email@example.com, fax: + 31-20 444 6500
13-17 July WorldCALL. Theme: CALL to Creativity. Venue: The University of Melbourne. Information: The Conference Secretariat: Fauth Royale & Associates Pty Ltd, P.O. Box 895, North Sydney, NSW 2060 Australia; phone: 61 2 9954 4544; fax: 61 2 9954 4964; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
26-31 July XIIIéme congrès national de professeurs de français. Theme: L’enseignnement pluriel du français’. Information: FBPF: Caixa Postal 5063 - CEP 88040-970, Florianópolis - S.C.- Brasil; phone: (048) 231-9355/228-3464, Fax: (o48) 231-9988/228-1117; e-mail:email@example.com
19-24 July 6th International pragmatics Conference. Theme: Language and Ideology. Venue: Reims Champagne Congrès Antwerp. Information: IPrA Secretariat P.O. Boz 33 (Antwerp 11), B-2018 Antwerp, Belgium
November 6th Latin American ESP Colloquium. Venue: Argentina.Information: Françoise Salager-Meyer, Apartado 715 Mérida 5101, Venezuela.
September International Conference of Modern Language Association of Poland (PTN). Theme: New Technologies in FLT, Children and Adults as Language Learners. Venue: Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozna?. Information: Teresa Siek-Piskozub, School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, al. Niepodleg?o?ci 4, 61-874 Pozna?, Poland, phone: (48) 61 52 88 20, fax: (48) 61 52 31 03, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
August/September IATEFL/SIG TDTR4 .Theme: Teachers Research Teachers Development, Venue: Leuven, Belgium. Information: Information: IATEFL, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, UK. Phone + 44 (0) 1227 276528, Facsimile +44 (0)1227 274415. Email 10007.1327@Compuserve.com. Worldwide Web http: //www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/.
July XXth Congress of FIPLV. Venue: Paris. Information: Michel Candelier, phone/fax: + 33 1 40 18 39 51; e-mail: email@example.com
In this short article I want to briefly discuss the place of foreign language teaching/learning in intercultural communication and the possibility of intercultural understanding, with a focus on the role and education of teachers. My main point will be that it is precisely the space for intercultural understanding that needs to be opened up by (amongst other practices) the practice of foreign language education, but that this is neither a necessary nor a common result of such a practice. On the contrary, foreign language teaching, especially the teaching of English as a foreign language (which I will use as an example because of its international importance), is deeply implicated in the reproduction of relations of power and inequality both within 'centre' and 'periphery' countries and between countries in the 'centre' (e.g. Britain, USA, etc.) and the 'periphery' (countries in the so-called 'third world')1. What is more, even critical perspectives do not necessarily open up this space, focusing as they often do on conflict and difference rather than the reaching of mutual understanding or consensus.
Without doubt, through the historical processes of colonisation, modernisation and now globalisation, the spread of English throughout the world has become a major force in the reproduction of inequality (Phillipson 1992; Tollefson 1994, 1995). But it would be excessively pessimistic to conclude from this that English teachers throughout the world are simply agents of a new imperialism and learners the passive recipients of a dominant ideology and destined to be, forever, on the receiving end of oppressive economic, political and cultural structures and practices. As Pennycook (1994) has pointed out, these processes have forced members of different cultures to actively deal with and interpret their lives (partially) in contact with other cultures. Now, this process of interaction with, and interpretation of, other cultures not only reproduces existing relations of power and inequality but also opens up the possibility of resistance: of intervention in and transformation of reality in the interests of the oppressed.
As Pennycook has observed, in order to theorise such a possibility, we need to pay more attention to "the processes by which individuals and groups interpret, translate and transform their experiences of foreign culture to relate to more familiar experiences" (1994: 56). Now, it could be argued that every time a text in English is used for the purposes of the teaching and learning of the language, intercultural communication (in the sense of interpretation/ translation) is taking place. This is because 'texts' and 'readers' are always the products of contexts (i.e. cultures) and presuppose their specific beliefs, values, standards of behaviour etc. and, through the act of interpretation, always produce some new meaning. I agree with Pennycook that it is this latter possibility that needs to be promoted and extended, in order to help people create their own voices in the language. But I would like to extend this critical perspective to include the possibility of not only "speaking in opposition" but also of co-creating a shared cultural reality, which does not eliminate difference but, on the contrary, builds a new (partial) universal on the basis of such difference. This, it seems to me, is the best way to theorise the possibility of intercultural understanding without losing an essentially critical perspective in which the beliefs, values, norms etc. of neither culture are protected from critical reflection and evaluation. In short, such understanding is a learning process which takes place at the individual and collective (cultural) level: a process of "communicatively achieved learning" (Young 1996:138).
Before pursuing the discussion, let me deal with an often cited problem in thinking about intercultural communication: the very possibility of understanding another culture. As Young (1996) has pointed out, there has been much debate as to whether cultures are incommensurable, and, therefore, in principle opaque to members of other cultures, or whether there is at least some common ground from which to construct an understanding. Here I think we can safely side with those who argue that some degree of understanding is possible. Even though interpretation and translation of meaning is indeterminate (there's always more than one possible interpretation for a word, gesture etc.), this does not make intercultural communication impossible because communication is not the perfect reproduction of meaning (Young 1996: 19f). Many theoretical perspectives nowadays, including Pennycook's post-structuralist view, would agree that meaning is not reproduced in communication but constructed in the act of language use. Now, if, in the act of communication, meaning is made and not reproduced, the problems around a putative perfect interpretation or translation do not constitute an obstacle to the possibility of communication. On the contrary, it is the essential ambiguity of meaning that makes the act of interpretation possible and, what's more, opens up the possibility of creating the new.
I cannot go into the details of such arguments here. I will have to be content with the statements that cultures are interpretable by members of other cultures and they are neither opaque nor fully transparent, either to their own members or the members of other cultures. The common ground that exists provides the basis for "contextual co-ordination of meaning" (Young 1996:51). This is a process that is embedded in social practices - economic, political, cultural etc. - and has as its ultimate criterion of interpretation the lived experiences of those trying to understand cultural 'others': the test of adequacy of any translation/interpretation must be pragmatic. The lack of transparency of cultures, both for their own members and the members of other cultures, resides in the fact that power creates cultural realities that are often experienced as "meaning making us" rather than us making our own meaning (Young, 1996:88). But it is the very fact that we do not experience ourselves as autonomous, as free to make our own meanings, that also makes us conscious of the fact that we are engaged in "a struggle for the capacity for meaning" (Young, 1996:ibid.). It is this dual experience of constraint and struggle that characterises all communication and which provides the seed of a more optimistic view: one which sees the possibility of constructing intercultural understanding. Hall (1995) argues that meaning making is always constrained by the generic-historical resources of a language ( a product of the "historical voices" that have generated such resources and, as such, determined by the power such 'voices' had/have) and the socio-cultural identities of the users of the language (formed largely through socialisation). All interactive practice takes place in a locally situated moment and the meanings created are the result of a 'dialogue' between this moment and the two sets of constraints. Now, such a dialogue always carries with it the possibility of a truly reflective engagement with and transformation of these constraints. Learning another language is no exception to this: it "...involves the constant engagement in and reflection upon our and others' interactive contributions to talk" (Hall 1995:226). In other words, it involves the engagement in and reflection upon our and the others' culture.
The point I want to make is that intercultural communication is always, potentially, a form of critique and, as such, constitutive of new relations between cultures and their members. But not all communication implies critique. Distortions in communication determined by power relations will often inhibit or prevent such critique from taking place. Its possibility implies the dismantling of such power relations including, as Pennycook argues, the dismantling of the discourses that sustain them. In other words, the struggle for meaning is always, at the same time, the struggle for democracy. Social practices (including discursive practices) are constituted by, and constitute, power relations which, in turn, constrain the meanings we can make in a language. On the other hand, the indeterminacy of this process always opens up the possibility of the creative production of new meanings (Hall 1995). Cultural reality is constructed intersubjectively through communication as a "form of political-ethical action, caught up in the flow of life and, in turn, influencing it" (Young 1996:20). The problem, of course, is that such action can either be conscious (based on the reflexive construction of beliefs, values, motives etc.) or conservative (simply reproducing existing meanings and, thus, existing relations of power). This is the problem of agency, and the possibility or impossibility of agency is central to the possibility of intercultural understanding. Only to the extent that individuals can write/speak new meanings, and therefore create new cultural realities, can true intercultural understanding take place.
If intercultural communication is possible and to be understood as a form of cultural or political-ethical action in which the possibility of learning and change is always present, our focus must move to the kind of cultural politics necessary to promote intercultural understanding. This is what Young calls the politics of communicative agency. But such an agency requires a context of intercultural understanding, a context that is between specific cultures/traditions (but is not context free, of course, since all communication is embedded in socio-cultural contexts). Such a context can be described as a "position in which communicators recognise that they stand between two possibilities, the past and the future..., in the presence of the culturally other in the context of a future which includes him or her" (Young 1996:99).
This necessity to include the other in the context of intercultural understanding is important because it helps us realise that such a future cannot be reached through either cultural extremism (which sees cultures as transparent and already perfectly intelligible - through the categories of the dominant culture, of course !) or relativism (which denies the possibility of understanding altogether!). The former has its politics in the colonial response to intercultural communication. From this perspective, cultures are transparent and can be understood through the 'universal' categories of "High European Modernity". Intercultural communication thus becomes a question of adaptation to the dominant culture because it embodies 'reason', 'knowledge' and 'valid norms'. This, of course, is not communication aimed towards mutual understanding and construction of a new cultural reality. It is, though, the view behind most foreign language teaching methods and materials which do not engage the 'other' (either foreign teachers or learners of English) in any kind of critical reflection regarding the (cultural) context of their production. Instead, the validity of the beliefs, norms and standards of behaviour presupposed in the texts is simply taken for granted (even in the kinds of activities proposed for students to engage in).
An equally problematic view from the point of view of intercultural understanding and the struggle for democracy is what can be called the anti-colonial response. Here cultures are seen as incommensurable and any attempt at intercultural communication as a necessarily imperialist strategy (overt or covert) of domination. Cultures can only be understood (and judged) within their own terms, interpretation being essentially and hopelessly indeterminate and intercultural communication a question of strategic conflict with the other culture.
Contrary to either of these alternatives, a critical-pragmatic response (Young 1996) sees intercultural communication as both possible and, at times (perhaps rarely), successful. Translation/interpretation across cultures is indeterminate but not impossible (as experience tells anyone who has tried to engage in such a process). Moreover, common ground (partial equivalents in meaning and partial universals) exists between cultures. Intercultural communication can now be understood as a question of using this common ground to articulate and negotiate differences and, in the process of doing so, to create new meanings and new cultural realities. Interpretation is always 'checked' against successful and unsuccessful experiences which, in turn, are redefined by the process of communication itself.
The important point here is that such a process can be understood as a learning process and such an approach can take account of and explain cultural change. As mentioned above, such "communicatively achieved learning" is a form of cultural action - a cultural politics. It is this perspective that can give the best account of agency and of teachers as intercultural agents who "play a key role in promoting intercultural understanding through the politics of communicative agency" (Young 1996).
Before going on to relate this to the practice of English language teaching, I would like to make a further comment about the context of intercultural understanding. Such a context is presupposed and constituted by communicative agency: a form of critical cultural agency. If all teaching is a form of cultural politics, the kind of teaching that will help create the context of intercultural understanding has to be a politics which incorporates a reflexive relation to beliefs, norms, values etc., both of one's own culture and that of the 'other': a discursive politics. Such a capacity for reflection is not context-free (as the High Modern concept of reason would have us believe) but is the exercise of reason (a more modest, post-metaphysical conception of communicative reason).
I cannot discuss the concepts of communicative reason and communicative agency in detail here. I can simply assert that the politics of intercultural communication requires us to promote this reflexive form of human agency, which operates within global structures of inequality in order to (help) transform them. Moreover, I want to suggest that such a concept helps us go beyond the kind of analysis offered by Pennycook. Basing his discussion on post-structuralist theory (specifically Foucault), Pennycook develops an extremely rich and interesting account of how the "worldliness of English" actually promotes a cultural politics of resistance, a "struggle over different representations of the self and other.., a struggle over different meanings" (Pennycook 1994:69). But his account leaves little room for the co-construction of meanings with the 'other'. He correctly identifies how "domination and authority are not just questions of social, economic or physical control but rather are also effected through discourse (power and knowledge)" (Pennycook 1994:59-60). He also develops a very interesting analysis of how certain discourses of the West - specifically the discourse of English as an International Language - promote practices that have the function of ensuring domination and inequality, and that "... in order to enable countries to follow different paths of development, it is essential that the discourse be dismantled, and that strategies of resistance and counter-discourse de articulated.... Opposition, therefore, needs to be carried out on the level of 'discursive intervention'" (Pennycook 1994:61). Such an intervention is a form of cultural politics grounded in difference and diversity. Now, although politics is often a question of strategic interaction between groups defined by their differences, it is more than this. It is also a process of reaching an understanding: a discursive, reflexively oriented process of constructing a consensus regarding the validity of meanings/definitions of reality. The struggle over different meanings can, at times, turn into the struggle to co-create meanings. We mustn’t forget that the co-construction of meanings is as much of a struggle as the articulation of different meanings. Indeed, they are very often facets of the same political action, as can be illustrated, for example, by the politics of the new social movements.
Pennycook's principal "point of intervention" is a critical pedagogy that can open up "space for many different meaning-making practices in English" (Pennycook 1996:69). I want to reinforce the importance of the pedagogy he advocates, and its undoubted value as a strategy for creating the context of intercultural understanding, but I also want to argue for another dimension of critical pedagogy: to open up space for going beyond the articulation of difference and towards the construction of a new, shared cultural reality. It is this (often) forgotten dimension that the notion of communicative agency helps us focus upon. Not as an ingenuous alternative to conflict and difference, but as an indication of the possibility of a new, concrete universal being co-constructed through the communicative acts of everyday life. The critical-pragmatic account of intercultural communication shows how this is a real possibility. But it will only be realised through a cultural politics that helps interlocutors reflect discursively on and with the other culture.
This is where teaching and teacher education is so important. Teachers are centrally placed intercultural agents and can, through their cultural action (teaching) promote the process of critique (engagement in and reflection upon cultures) and, thus, intercultural understanding. But they can only do so through a cultural politics which implies a truly critical pedagogy and an appropriate methodology. It is this kind of pedagogy that is most appropriate for the development of a discursively formed (i.e. critical) intercultural communication. Extending and adapting Pennycook's analysis, we can outline a critical pedagogy as involving the following elements:
Ellis, G. (1996) "How Culturally Appropriate is the Communicative Approach?", in ELT Journal 50/3:213-218.
Habermas, J. (1984) The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society, London: Heinamenn.
Habermas, J. (1987) The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 2: The Critique of Functionalist Reason, Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, J. (1992) Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Hall, J.K. (1995) (Re)creating our Worlds with Words: A Sociohistorical Perspective of Face-to-Face Interaction", in Applied Linguistics 16/2: 206-232.
Holliday, A. (1994) Appropriate Methodology and Social Context, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kramsch, C. (1993) Context and Culture in Language Teaching, Oxford: OUP.
Kramsch, C. & Sullivan, P. (1996) "Appropriate Methodology", in ELT Journal 50/3:199-212.
Pennycook, A. (1994) "Critical Pedagogy and Second Language Education", in System 18/3.
Pennycook, A. (1994) The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language, London: Longman.
Phillipson, R. (1992) Linguistic Imperialism, Oxford: OUP.
Prodromou, L. (1988) "English as Cultural Action", in ELT Journal 42/2.
Prodromou, L. (1992) "What Culture? Which Culture? Cross-cultural Factors in Language Learning", in ELT Journal 46:39-50.
Redmond, W. V. (1991) "Ideology behind Language Teaching", paper presented at the 4th. LABCI Congress, Santiago, Chile.
Tollefson, J.W. (1991) Planning Language, Planning Inequality, London: Longman.
Tollefson, J.W. (Ed.) (1995) Power and Inequality in Language Education, Cambridge: CUP.
Young, R. (1996) Intercultural Communication: Pragmatics, Genealogy, Deconstruction, Cleveland: Multilingual Matters.
Young, R. (1992) Critical Theory and Classroom Talk, Cleveland: Multilingual Matters.
veranstaltet vom Fachverband Moderne Fremdsprachen, den Fremdsprachenverbänden Luxemburgs und dem Ministere de l‘Education Nationale de Luxembourg
Der Fremdsprachenkongreß soll sich mit den zukünftigen Herausforderungen an das Fremdsprachenkönnen der Büger Europas und mit den Konsequenzen für den Fremdsprachenunterricht, für die Ausbildung der Lehrer und den Problemen der Umsetzung in konkreten Unterrich befassen. Das Programm des Kongresses gliedert sich dementsprechend in drei Themenbereiche:
Association for Language Learning is inviting to the following events:
Formation Autonome- the accounts of the FIPLV West European Three-Year Lingua/Socrates Project (1994-1996) are now available in two volumes:
The Special Interest Group Newletters are getting better and better, as the most recent batch demonstrate. In the Testing Newsletter, there are articles on testing primary school and ESP learners. ELT Management has an article explaining the rationale behind the EAQUALS scheme of quality control for language schools. Research News contains the abstracts of paper given at the conference on Listening skills at Cambridge last February. Accompanying it as a separate publication is an Update on ... Pragmatics by Jenny Thomas, a fascinating and useful document in this occasional series which keeps members of Research SIG up to date with ideas and developments in various areas of applied linguistics and ELT methodology. ESP SIG Newsletter has an interesting article by Bob (RR) Jordan on writing an ESP book for teachers. The Teacher Development newsletter is packed with articles from Italy, Germany, the USA and Cuba. Finally, the CALL review has a number of articles, including one on using CD Roms on a computer network.
In line with new IATEFL policy the organising committees of all the SIGs are now elected. If you would like to stand for election and gain some experience of managing a SIG please contact Head Office or the appropriate SIG Co-ordinator.
Good progress is being made with "Best of SIGs" and "Conference proceedings", as well as a variety of other significant projects. An official launch of the IATEFL publications list will take place at the Manchester Conference 1988.
If you would like to propose a talk for the IATEFL International Conference, Manchester 1998, and you use Word 6, you can download an application form from the IATEFL Website. The closing date for proposals is 15 October 1997.
Applications for the 1998 IATEFL Conference First-time Speaker Scholarships are invited. The scholarships are awarded from donations given by IATEFL members. To qualify applicants must be an IATEFL members , newcomers with a minimum of 3 years in the profession and first-time speakers at the IATEFL Annual Conference. The scholarship covers all conference costs a contribution towards travel costs and membership of IATEFL for a year. Applicants are required to send a brief resume of the proposed talk, a curriculum vitae and a brief explanation of the reasons for applying. The deadline for applications is 30th September 1997.
Don't forget to look at IATEFL's World-wide Web page for the latest information about events, publications, SIG News and the IATEFL Jobshop IATEFL Home Page: http://www.man.ac.uk/IATEFL/
For further information about any aspect of IATEFL please contact: Jill Stajduhar, Executive Officer, IATEFL, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Kingsdown Park, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2DJ, England. Tel: +44 1227 276528, Fax: +44 1227 274415, E-mail 100070.1327@Compuserve.com
Club Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay served as the venue for ‘Encuentro Latinoamericano de Profesores de Lenguas’ held on 25-26 April, 1997. This event was organised by FUPL (FIPLV Uruguay), the first Federation of Teachers of Languages in LatinAmerica. FUPL was founded on 25th June, 1994, and this event was declared of National interest by Presidencia de la República Oriental del Uruguay as well as of Secretariat interest by the Ministry of Education and Culture together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was also sponsored by FIPLV, Montevideo City Mayor and Catholic University ‘Dr. Damaso A. Larranaga’. 400 delegates came from neighbouring countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and from the host country.
The opening addresses were made by Prof. Esperanza Querol (FUPL President), Prof. Kamil Imar (Ministry of Education and Culture), and Prof. Ivonne Mendibehere (FUPL delegate for FIPLV XIX World Congress). Dr Michel Candelier (FIPLV President) let the organising committee have a message of encouragement.
Five month before the event, six appointed committees had identified and met with governmental and non-governmental organisations in Uruguay. The purpose was to determine how best to co-ordinate efforts among all the associations that FUPL gathers together, to defend individuals’ language rights, and to promote both multilingualism and multiculturalism aiming at XXI century’s globalization. The response was very enthusiastic and led to this Congress, which marked the first time in the history of Latin America that the whole spectrum of languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish) was represented in a Southern Cone regional meeting.
Throughout the two-day event there were many plenary sessions, round-table discussions as well as panel sessions lead by eminent speakers who presented delegates with an array of ideas to adapt and adopt. The need for a culture of professional expertise and advocacy was emphasised with respect to curriculum development, instructional design, as well as assessment practices. We are aware that there are many different ‘arenas’ of advocacy, explicit or implicit in FUPL’s mission to foster effective communication in diverse settings while respecting individuals’ language rights and honouring all and any modern languages. Much is still to be done.
For more information contact: IvonneMendibehere, FUPL Liaison, Montevideo, Uruguay; fax: 00 598 2 401913
Thomas, J. Update on ... Pragmatics. IATEFL Research SIG. IATEFL:UK, 1996.
Vestnik, The Newsletter of International Association of teachers of Russian Language and Literatur (MAPRYAL), no. 17, Mocow 1996.
Khruslov, G. The Rights of Minorities in Education: A School of Ethnic Diaspora. Moscov: Ministry of General and Vocational Education of the Russian Federation, Institute for national Problems of Education, Pushkin Institute of Russian Language, Moscow 1996.
Khruslov, G. (ed.). Methodology of Research in Mother Tongue Education at School in Multiethnic Classes (Foreign and Russian Cas Studies). Moscow 1997.
The Best ABANEWS. Associação Brasil-Mmérica, Nú.11, Junho 1997.
Newsletter 6/1. Angewandte Sprachwissenschaft Institut f. Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Wien, Berggasse 11/1/Top 8, A-1090 Wien, April 1997.
Neusprachliche Mitteilungen aus Wissenschaft und Praxis, Herausgegeben vom Fachverband Moderne Fremdsprachen (FMF), Heft 2, 2. Quartal & Heft 3, 3 Quartal1997,.
Miteinander sprechen - einander versteheb, FMF Landesverband Schleswig-Holstein Mitteilungsblatt, August 1997.
IATEFL Newsletter. No. 136 - April-May1997; No. 137 - June - July 1997.
Members’ Newsletter. New Zealand Association of language Teachers, No. 12, July 1997
Research News. The Newsletter of the IATEFL Research SIG. No. 10, June 1997.
Boletín de ASELE, Núm. 16- Abril, 1997.
FBPF. Federação Brasileira dos Professores de Francês. Informativo Bimestral Nos 17/18 - jan/abr - 1997.
Boletim SIPLE. Boletim Informativo da Sociedade Internacional de Português - Lígua Estrangeira. V.2, no 9. Abri. 1997 1996.
Tempus, Newsletter of the Federation of Foreign Language Teachers in Finland SUKOL, No. 4 - 6. 1997.
EUROCONTACT 3, Bulletin de la Région Europe de l’Ouest de la FIPLV, Mai 1997.
Global Issues in Language Education Newsletter, National Special Interest Group of the Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT), Issue 27, June 1997.
TESOL Greece. No. 54, April - June 1997.
The News. TESOL-France. No. 16, May 1997.
FIPLV was very sad to hear of the recent passing away of Dr Paul Hartig at the age of 99. His significant contribution to FIPLV was extensive and is acknowledged here with due appreciation
FIPLV extends its condolences and best wishes to the Hartig family.
This issue contains Brazilian touch after the XIX Congress of FIPLV which took place in Recife in March, although a more thorough report on this important event will be published in the next volume. One of the important issues discussed there is Intercultural Communication (teachers’ rights presented by Francisco Gomes de Matos and language learners’ perspective by Ralph I. Bannell - Forum on Controversial Issues). Michel Candelier is providing his last Letter of the President. As usual we report on the recent FIPLV activities in the Regions and the involvement of our representatives in an international event (FIPLV News). Our Congress Calendar is already in the year 2000. The Member Associations, as well as the co-operating with us institutions, inform about their recent and future activities (News and Views). A growing list of journals issued by and for language teachers, sent to the Editor’s address, is published in Books and Journals: Publications received.
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