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Reconceptualizing critical cultural awareness for the context of FL literature education
Special Issue: Reimagining the Role of Literature in Intercultural Language Education
The construct of critical cultural awareness (CCA) is often regarded as an element pertaining to intercultural communicative competence (Byram, 1997, 2021). In this model, CCA is defined as the ability to “evaluate, critically, and on the basis of a systematic process of reasoning, values in one’s own culture and other cultures” (Byram, 2021, p. 90). Although the potential of literature to develop learners’ CCA is widely accepted by intercultural education scholars, Byram’s definition has some limitations as a theoretical basis for teaching students how to “evaluate and reason critically” about literary texts, as it does not take into account certain aspects of literary reading and critical interculturality that are essential in contemporary foreign language (FL) teaching and learning. This study aims to redefine CCA for the specific context of secondary literature education in a bottom-up manner, based on an analysis of student texts about migratory literature. To this end, 97 students learning Spanish as a FL in the upper forms of pre-university education (aged 15-19) at four schools in the Netherlands were asked to write an evaluation of two literary texts they read in class. Via qualitative analysis of these texts with Atlas.ti, three content categories – social justice, emotions and conflict – and two evaluative categories - cultural representation and transformation – were identified for CCA. The findings of this study have implications for other FL literature teaching settings, as a generic rubric for assessment of student texts was developed based on the criteria that emerged from the data.
Suggested citationEsther Schat, Ewout van der Knaap, Rick de Graaff. (2022). Reconceptualizing critical cultural awareness for the context of FL literature education. Intercultural Communication Education, 5(3), 125–142. https://doi.org/10.29140/ice.v5n3.792
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