Open Conference Systems, Language and Language Teaching Conference 2020

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Peter Sayer

Last modified: 2020-10-29


During the past decade, the landscape of language education in North America has been shifting. In this talk, Sayer explains three recent trends that have been influencing language teacher education programs: translanguaging, cultural relevant pedagogy, and intercultural competence. The first trend, translanguaging, is part of the movement in the field of language education to recognize students’ home languages (L1) as a resource in the classroom. Traditionally in language classroom, the students’ L1 has often been seen as a source of interference, and the teachers’ main goal has been to maximize the input in the target language by avoiding L1 use. Within the last few years, however, research on multilingual approaches to language teaching has shown that there can be a positive role for the students’ home language, and that language mixing practices such as code-switching can be beneficial for students.  The second trend, cultural relevant pedagogy, relates to the first trend. Here, language teacher educators argue that teachers need to better align the instruction to the students’ lived realities. Instead of relying only on the curriculum to dictate the content of lessons, teachers should look to the cultural practices of families and communities, called funds of knowledge, to inspire lessons. The final trend, intercultural competence, places an emphasis on the teaching of language as a skill for navigating intercultural interactions. This is especially relevant for English as an additional language, where English is the medium for bridging communication across cultural and accessing information on a global scale. Therefore, having an awareness of how cultural differences influence interactions is an important aspect of developing students’ communicative competence.


language education; translanguaging; cultural relevant pedagogy; intercultural competence