Do language awareness and intercultural awareness have to be "critical"?

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


Do language awareness and intercultural awareness have to be "critical"? Parallel to the well-established (sub-) paradigm of Critical Language Awareness (CLA; cf. Fairclough 1992) there are more and more voices pleading for a Critical (Inter-) Cultural Awareness approach as well (cf. Houghton 2008). This seems more than justified because of the vagueness and complexity of the notion of culture itself (and derived notions such as "cultural identity", "multicultural", "cross-cultural", "intercultural", "transcultural", etc.) - in general, but especially in our increasingly globalised way of experiencing the world, where fixed identities are becoming more and more illusory and problematic. This more theoretically oriented contribution will primarily discuss the following questions: 1. What does "critical" mean in Critical Language Awareness and Critical (Inter-) Cultural Awareness, what might or should it mean? 2. Are there differences in (critical) awareness approaches depending on specific educational backgrounds (on a scientist / expert / folk continuum, cf. Wilton / Stegu 2011)? As there are so many different "scientific" theories about (inter-) cultural phenomena, how do lay persons (= non-specialists) handle these notions? However, the paper will also include an empirical aspect. In my university there is an intercultural training module for every student planning to spend a semester abroad. We will therefore conduct a survey (questionnaires plus qualitative interviews) which should show to what extent the intercultural awareness of the trainers and students is 'critical' (or 'uncritical'). Even if a non-specialist can never know all the scientific approaches to culture, interculturality, etc., we think that it is possible and necessary to create a critical meta-awareness among lay people allowing them to successfully communicate with "other cultures" without ignoring the limits of too simplistic and essentialist interpretations of the phenomenon "culture".
Period8 Jul 201211 Jul 2012
Event title2012 Association for Language Awareness confere
Event typeUnknown
Degree of RecognitionInternational