Strategies for the development of multicultural competence in language learning

Álvarez, Inma and Garrido, Cecilia (2001). Strategies for the development of multicultural competence in language learning. In: Coleman, James A.; Ferney, Derrik; Head, David and Rix, Rob eds. Language-learning futures : issues and strategies for modern language provision in Higher Education. London: CiLT Publications, pp. 150–163.



Over the past few years, the Open University (OU) has been involved in the development of a Spanish programme geared to students who want to learn the language at distance. The task has been a challenge not only because of the obvious difficulties that learning a language at a distance poses, but also because Spanish is a language spoken in three continents, by 21 countries and by at least as many cultures. The teaching of culture is therefore at the core of the development of the OU Spanish courses. It is an integral part of the syllabus, the writing of the materials and the development of strategies that will enable students to interact effectively in a multicultural setting. This paper will explore the main issues relating to the development of a language programme that gives equal importance to linguistic and cultural content, and will exemplify what the OU Spanish team has done in an attempt to address such issues.

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