How Can We Develop Pre-service English Teachers’ Intercultural Awareness? The Takeaway from a Course in American Culture

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ICSS-10: 10th International Congress on Social Sciences, Madrid, Spain, 23 September - 24 December 2016, vol.2, pp.964

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • Volume: 2
  • City: Madrid
  • Country: Spain
  • Page Numbers: pp.964
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


With the recognition that intercultural awareness is necessary for successful communication between individuals of diverse backgrounds, culture has become an integral aspect of foreign language education. However, language teachers often lack direct experience and knowledge of the target culture, and as such, they are not always well-equipped to support cultural awareness in learners. Thus, teacher preparation programs have a responsibility to provide pre-service foreign language teachers with the necessary culture-related skills. Because opportunities for learning about culture within a teacher education program are generally limited to a few hours of instruction, it is vital to ensure that the material to which prospective teachers are exposed is rich enough to support real understanding of the culture in question. To address this need in the context of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education, the researcher carried out an action research project with pre-service EFL teachers at a Turkish university. The study was conducted in an elective course on American culture held in the spring semesters of the 2015 and 2016 academic years. Open-ended surveys, as well as written classroom assignments, exams and student presentations, were collected from each group of students and analyzed at the conclusion of each semester to examine the impact of the material on their awareness of American culture. Based on the findings from the data obtained in the spring of 2015, the researcher made adjustments to the course content prior to teaching the class with a second group of students. The findings from the spring of 2016 suggest that course content including role play, reflection, and deeply contextualized information about the target culture were more effective than direct instruction in supporting intercultural awareness. With these results in mind, the researcher offers some recommendations for providing intercultural experieces in a classroom setting.