The strength of Blommaert’s model, or view on intercultural communication, is that it acknowledges that context is complex and there is not a straightforward link between one particular context, especially not a national one, and particular speech styles. The model is a useful way of thinking about intercultural communication in the context of language teaching. Even though I will not use the concept of code-switching in a linguistic sense for this study, the idea of culture as a set of resources (linguistic and otherwise) that people can pick and choose from to utilize, resist and create new meanings, I think is very relevant for critical intercultural communication in language teaching. Blommaert’s model does not give us the answers we need in terms of pedagogy and whether we should opt for a context or text-based approach, or what to include in a language teaching syllabus. Moreover, Blommaert seems to refer specifically to speech. We cannot, in short, apply his views directly to language teaching, but his models provide a way of thinking about intercultural communication which is important for us as teachers. His view of culture as ‘resources’ to draw upon bears similarities with Holliday’s view (2004: 12).
The fact that choosing from these resources operates, not just on an unconscious, but also on a strategic level, is an important point. If people use these resources partly strategically on an everyday basis, they become more easily available for conscious reflection, which can be used in the language class.
The notion of switching and mixing language styles and varieties depending on a range of complex factors with regard to the social context, as well as factors outside the social arena such as emotions, can be made central to language and culture pedagogy. Such a pedagogy would focus on the difference in terms of styles and discourses and look at the embedded ideologies and values, see context as influenced by a complex set of factors, focus on making learners take account of who they address, and direct their communications specifically to their audience. This addressivity - ‘the quality of turning to someone’, as Bakhtin (1996 (1986): 99) so aptly calls it, comes into play particularly in writing, as students have more time for reflection on their language output. But an awareness of varieties of styles and discourses, and indeed how the reader is addressed, also helps students to delve deeper into text and go beyond the content of the text.
Cultural meanings are then created through discourses; structures of meaning which also hold in Bakhtin’s words a ‘stylistic aura’ which reflect the ideology pertaining to that discourse. But these cultural meanings are often global. Areas of human activity are after all not limited to a particular national culture. For the language teacher who frequently is expected to teach the national paradigm, this provides a dilemma.