Childhood Studies Intercultural Learning and Teaching with Children
Ann Farrell
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0204


Intercultural learning and teaching with children is attracting increased attention as an emerging field of practice with theorists, educators, and policy practitioners. The Oxford Dictionary (2018) defines the term culture as the “beliefs, customs and arts of a particular society, group, place or time” and intercultural as “taking place between cultures or derived from different cultures.” The growing field of intercultural learning and teaching with children denotes learning and teaching that affords children the opportunity to interact and engage with different cultures. In Intercultural Teaching and Learning: Rethinking Intercultural Learning Processes (Munich: Goethe Institut, 2017) Jürgen Bolten provides a contemporary understanding of intercultural work, noting that culture and interculturality are in a state of flux, with cultures and people acquiring their identities through interactions with humans and non-human actors such as the Internet—a scenario that applies to child learners as well as to adult learners. Further, the bifurcated global context of the Global North and Global South accentuates the disparities in the digital worlds of learner (whether child or adult) and their access to learning opportunities and resources. Put simply, intercultural teaching and learning is both a conceptual approach and a set of practical strategies designed to enable learners, in this case children, to seek and to contribute to cultural diversity and to develop intercultural competence—the focus of Messner and Schäfer in their Intercultural communication and collaboration appraisal (London: GloBus Research, 2012). Chlopek argues in “The Intercultural Approach to EFL Teaching and Learning” (English Teaching Forum 4 [2008], pp. 10–19) that its historical antecedents are found in the teaching and learning of foreign languages. Since the introduction of intercultural teaching in foreign language education, recent decades have seen its application in early childhood education, schooling, and teacher education, as addressed by Farrell and Pramling Samuelsson in Diversity in the early years. Intercultural teaching and learning (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2016). Gibson argues in Intercultural business communication (London: Oxford University Press, 2002) that intercultural learning and teaching have been championed, in the fields of business, human relations, and commerce. In short, the field of intercultural learning and teaching with children is international and interdisciplinary, although bounded by local and national legislative, policy, and jurisdictional requirements. This bibliography offers a suite of perspectives, resources, and strategies to open up new possibilities for researchers, practitioners, and policy personnel in the pursuit of intercultural policy and practice.

General Overviews

The last decade has seen an upsurge in overviews of intercultural learning and teaching, with the majority using the “intercultural” nomenclature to denote their conceptual and methodological framework. Works included here are indicative of those that provide an overview of the field. Handbooks devoted to intercultural matters include Bennett 2015 and Deardorff 2009 on intercultural competence, with Deardorff 2009 providing a systematic overview of international literature in this area, and Vertovec 2015 providing an overview of diversity studies. These works are complemented by a range of other works that situate intercultural learning and teaching within broader historical, conceptual, and programmatic contexts. Bolten 2017, for example, addresses power asymmetries that may attend different language skills, Chlopek 2008 highlights cultural knowledge and awareness, while Dervin and Liddicoat 2013 considers languages and language variation in multicultural education. Gibson 2002 considers intercultural issues from a business communication standpoint, while Messner and Schäfer 2012 presents a diagnostic framework for establishing difference. Other works generated within the public sector are those produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2018, discussing global competence for an inclusive sustainable world, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation 2013, on generating a conceptual vocabulary for intercultural competence.

  • Bennett, J. M. The SAGE Encyclopaedia of Intercultural Competence. London: SAGE, 2015.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781483346267

    The book presents cultural competence as set of attitudes, practices, and policies that enables a person to work well with people from differing cultural groups.

  • Bolten, J. Intercultural Teaching and Learning: Rethinking Intercultural Learning Processes. Munich: Goethe Institut, 2017.

    The book addresses the affordances of intercultural work and identifies the power asymmetries that may arise as a result of different language skills.

  • Chlopek, Z. “The Intercultural Approach to EFL Teaching and Learning.” English Teaching Forum 4 (2008): 10–19.

    Contemporary models of communicative competence discussed by Chlopek highlight the importance of cultural knowledge and awareness.

  • Deardorff, D. K., ed. SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence. New York: SAGE, 2009.

    Dedicated to intercultural competence, this handbook provides a systematic overview of international literature in this area. It complements a significant corpus of work authored by Deardorff.

  • Dervin, F., and A. Liddicoat, eds. Linguistics for Intercultural Education. London: John Benjamins, 2013.

    This edited volume addresses intercultural communication, multicultural education, languages, and language variation.

  • Gibson, R. Intercultural Business Communication. London: Oxford University Press, 2002.

    This work addresses intercultural communication for teachers, language educators, and business people.

  • Messner, W., and N. Schäfer. The ICCA Facilitators’ Manual: Intercultural Communication and Collaboration Appraisal. London: GloBus Research, 2012.

    The Intercultural Competence and Communication Appraisal (ICCA) approach is presented by Messner and Schäfer as a diagnostic framework for examining the areas in which one’s environment is “different” from those with whom one will work.

  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Preparing Our Youth for an Inclusive Sustainable World: The OECD PISA Global Competence Framework. Paris: OECD, 2018.

    Global competence is presented as the capacity to examine local, global, and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, and to engage in open interactions with others and to act for collective and sustainable well-being. Further, it provides a rationale for promoting and assessing global competence.

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Intercultural Competences: Conceptual and Operational Framework. Paris: UNESCO, 2013.

    The UNESCO framework provides a conceptual vocabulary to address intercultural competences and outlines an operational plan for clarifying, teaching, promoting, enacting, and supporting intercultural competences.

  • Vertovec, S. Routledge International Handbook of Diversity Studies. London: Routledge, 2015.

    Vertovec’s five-part handbook addresses dimensions of diversity (e.g., gender, race, age, social identity, disability, migration), historical geographies of diversity (e.g., Roman and Ottoman empires, European Fascism, Apartheid), policies and politics of diversity (e.g., human rights, social welfare, management), encounter and diversity (heterogeneities, discrimination, social cohesion, xenophobia), and fusion of diversity (assimilation, intersectionality, critical diversity literacy).

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