This chapter set out more specifically the underpinning ideas of my pedagogy. I drew on Byram and on Kramsch’s early work, and on Guilherme’s critical pedagogy. I aligned myself with the latter’s critical emphasis, with Byram’s focus on ‘the everyday’ aspects of culture, and with Kramsch’s notion of context as complex and multilayered, her focus on text and on the notion of dialogue in class. I interpret this dialogue as taking place between students themselves as well as in relation to the teacher and the text under discussion, including the multiple discourses which occupy the cultural spaces which exist and open up in such dialogues.
Whereas language and culture in language teaching have been frequently seen as relating to information about the target country, and what to say in what situation, intercultural communication as a discipline, developed initially for diplomacy and applied to business contexts, focuses exclusively on interpersonal relations, seeing a direct link between ‘a’ communicative style and ‘a’ culture. I argued, drawing on Blommaert, that language and culture teaching should not focus on this perceived link, because even though there are patterns of communication in specific, including national, groups, language teaching should take account of linguistic and cultural complexity.
One way of conceptualizing a new way of thinking about intercultural communication is that put forward by Phipps and Gonzalez of ‘being intercultural’; an actual engagement with ‘the other’ in and through language. Ethnography is an excellent tool to encourage interculturality, as it encourages students to observe, participate in, engage with, and reflect on the ‘other’ in relation to themselves and their own complex cultural environment. Even though ethnography is about engaging with ‘real’ situations, I argue that the idea can be applied to looking at text as well.
I set out different views of text which have prevailed in education, but the view of text which allows for a critical, an ethnographic, and a dialogic reading is that of ‘cultuurtekst’, as this view of text combines the idea of text as a product, and text in relation to the context of culture as shifting, complex and reflecting multiple discourses. The idea of ‘cultuurtekst’ then underpins my pedagogy. The advantage of this model, I argued, is that it lends itself to ‘discursive mapping’, which I see as both a critical practice and as an engagement with the cultural contexts of the texts.
In the next chapter, I set out the context in which this study took place, discuss the text I used for this study and I will introduce the framework for analysis which I used with the students.