|dc.description.abstract||Recommended in language education curricula around the world, intercultural communicative language teaching (ICLT) is also promoted by the New Zealand Ministry of Education for teaching and learning languages at secondary school. However, research in New Zealand and abroad has shown that language teachers do not have a sound understanding of ICLT and most do not practice the approach. Studies have suggested universal tensions that give rise to shortcomings in ICLT awareness and/or practice; this study takes a view to remedy them.
The overall research concern of this thesis is to support the practice of ICLT in New Zealand secondary school language classes, grounded in two aims:
1. To ascertain the status quo of New Zealand secondary school language teachers’ awareness and practice of ICLT; and
2. To develop, implement, and evaluate an in-class intervention of an activity grounded in ICLT, namely cultural portfolio projects. This aim expressly sought to resolve tensions described by teachers internationally as hindering ICLT awareness and practice.
The aims were achieved in a two-phase project based on a theoretical framework of the philosophical theory of pragmatism (specifically, Dewey’s worldview) and the psychological perspective of sociocultural theory. Phase 1 explored language teachers’ cognitions with respect to culture in language education generally, and to ICLT specifically. A questionnaire was administered to language teachers of 121 secondary schools. Quantitative analysis of the data from the 76 questionnaires returned provided a fresh understanding of New Zealand language teachers’ awareness of ICLT and revealed a range of factors as influencing their cognitions, awareness, and practice of the approach. Phase 2 was an in-class intervention involving teachers and students of three secondary school language classes (2 x German, 1 x French) in a term-length student-centred activity called cultural portfolio projects (CPPs). The CPPs embodied ICLT principles and demonstrated the theory of ICLT in practice. Data gathered from observations, interviews, and group discussions were analysed using qualitative methods.
Results across phases showed that New Zealand language teachers continue to demonstrate low levels of awareness of ICLT, chiefly due to tensions related to curricular documents, teacher education, and apparent conflict in subsets of teachers’ beliefs. As a consequence, mediating tools that could empower the practice of ICLT were inaccessible, flawed, or ineffectively used. The CPPs were evaluated positively as a culture teaching tool by teachers and students alike, and their step-wise nature raised the teachers’ consciousness of ICLT to the extent that all of the tensions were reduced.
The thesis culminates in the presentation of a heuristic model of an intercultural communicative language teacher. The model is a mediating tool for teachers and teacher educators to illuminate the extent to which their cognitions, practices, and aims reflect an ICLT approach, to enable focused development to assist their trajectory towards being an ICLT practitioner.||