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Fostering Intercultural Awareness in a Chinese English Reading Class

Authors
  • Yu, Qun
  • Van Maele, Jan
Type
Published Article
Journal
Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Sep 25, 2018
Volume
41
Issue
3
Pages
357–375
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/cjal-2018-0027
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Since the turn of the century, higher education policy in China has highlighted the importance of cultivating students’ intercultural competences, particularly in the context of English language teaching. In spite of this, studies show that to this day Chinese ELT classrooms in higher education have rarely taken a cultural turn and teachers’ understanding of interculturalism remains insufficient. This paper reports an action research study on how intercultural awareness was developed in the context of an English reading course at an independent college of a major Chinese university. The study followed a teaching flow that integrates intercultural learning with critical thinking by challenging students to select, analyze, and raise questions about English texts on aspects of Chinese culture. Mapping the outputs of a cohort of 77 second-year undergraduate students onto Baker’s (2012; 2015) model of intercultural awareness, the study shows that a majority of participants demonstrated a level beyond basic awareness. The paper concludes that reading courses can be used to help foster intercultural awareness among Chinese students, and it offers some pedagogical and theoretical reflections on integrating intercultural learning with ELT, and formulates a number of suggestions for further studies.

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