1st Edition

Developing Critical Cultural Awareness in Modern Languages
A Comparative Study of Higher Education in North America and the United Kingdom

ISBN 9780367357085
Published January 23, 2020 by Routledge
268 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This volume explores the relationship between language and culture while considering its implications for the teaching of modern foreign languages in higher education. Drawing on a comparative empirical study conducted at universities both in the UK and US, this text problematises the impacts of a separation of language and content in German degree programmes.

Illustrating the need for a curriculum which fosters the development of intercultural competence and criticality, Parks reconceptualises established models of criticality (Barnett) and intercultural communicative competence (Byram). The chapters in this volume discuss a range of important topics including; language graduates with deep translingual and transcultural competence, observed differences and similarities between British and American universities and faculty and student voices: developing intercultural competence and criticality.

Aimed at scholars with research interests in intercultural communication, language education and applied linguistics, this volume provides a thorough discussion for the ways in which modern language programmes in higher education can be improved. Additionally, those carrying out research in the fields of language teaching and language policy in higher education will find Developing Critical Cultural Awareness in Modern Languages to be of great relevance.

Table of Contents

Introduction;  1. Problematising the separation between language and content in UK and US Modern Language degrees;  2. Language graduates with ‘deep translingual and transcultural competence’;   3. Fostering Criticality and Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) in Higher Education;  4. Exploring faculty and students’ views on the ML curriculum and students’ development of critical cultural awareness and criticality;  5. Observed differences and similarities between British and American universities;  6. Fostering criticality development;  7. The development of intercultural competence and critical cultural awareness;  8. Defining and contextualising two emerging new competencies: communicative criticality and savoir se reconnaître;  9. Towards a new understanding of language degrees and critical cultural awareness: Implications for theory, research and practice


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Elinor Parks completed her PhD at the University of Hull. She is currently Tutor of German at the University of York and the University of Manchester. Her research explores the complexity behind the separation between language and content in modern language degrees both in the UK and in the US. In particular, the research examines implications of the divide for students’ development of criticality and intercultural competence.



Critically motivated, comprehensively researched and lucidly written, this timely study analyses the challenges faced by the Higher Education foreign language curriculum in the 21st century. Based on extensive evidence which features the voices of both educators and students, this book extends our understanding of the field through proposing a radical synthesis of interculturality and criticality.

-Malcolm N. MacDonald is Associate Professor of language education and applied linguistics at the University of Warwick, UK and editor of the Language and Intercultural Communication Journal.