Interculturalising TESOL

Impact: Attitudes and behaviours, Awareness and understanding, Society and culture


Over the last 50 years or more, along with other areas of foreign language education, TESOL (i.e. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) has been developing a more intercultural orientation, a development of which I have been part since the 1990s. TESOL differs from other language teaching specialisms, however, partly because of global lingua franca functions of English, its post-colonial proliferation (Englishes), its intra-national lingua franca functions in increasingly multicultural societies where English was previously simply a foreign language, and the linguistic politics of English as both a colonial (and some would say ‘killer’) language and as a lingua franca with wide-ranging utility. My work addresses these particularities.

When I joined the TESOL team at Manchester, there was no intercultural provision. The intercultural module I developed to fill this gap, has now been taught in one form or another for 30 years. It was one of the first modules of its kind on an MA TESOL programme, and over 1,000 English language teachers from around the world have now taken it as part of their CPD, and afterwards brought an intercultural orientation back into their home contexts. Some of these teachers also retained the intercultural focus for their MA dissertations; some continued this work at doctoral level; and, in turn. some become language teacher educators themselves and advocates for the interculturalisation of professional practice (e.g. Eljee Javier, Nahielly Palacios). The module was also my first step towards interculturalising the university (a related area of impact). Given the importance of distance learning during the first half of my career at the university, I also extended the intercultural orientation to this study modality (e.g. appropriate distance learning methodology) and this focus also has value for elearning/online learning/hybrid learning and other modalities which have since taken over the lead from distance learning.

The flagship intercultural module has been accompanied by other modules (at BA- and MA level), by whole programmes (e.g. MA in Intercultural Communication) and awards (Manchester Global Award), and by intercultural training within (e.g. with the Security Team) and beyond the university (e.g. with volunteers with the Red Cross/Cruz Roja in Spain charged with processing newly-arrived immigrants from the boats crossing the Mediterranean). I have played a lead role in all of these developments which link to, and are informed by, my intercultural research contribution (to TESOL especially) over the last 30 years. This research has focused on:

1) The cultural curriculum in TESOL;
2) The intercultural aspects of different TESOL paradigms, especially teaching English as an international lingua franca (ELF) and also an intra-national resource in multicultural societies;
3) The intercultural aspects of English language testing;
4) The intercultural aspects of language teacher education more generally;
5) English language education for refugees;
6) Intercultural communication through online exchange programmes: and
7) The intercultural aspects of distance education.
Impact dateJan 1994
Category of impactAttitudes and behaviours, Awareness and understanding, Society and culture
Impact levelEngagement