Space to Language: Being Intercultural in a Breathless World


posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

On this blog, I have frequently criticized current trends to coat instruction with more and more layers of evaluation, forcing teachers to increasingly think in test intervals and to squeeze foreign language learning and teaching (including intercultural education) through the bottleneck of assessment schedules (see also Kurtz 2008). The following aphorism summarizes my position on this issue: ‘Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.’ (taken from Patton 2002: 12).

In a talk delivered at UC Irvine in March 2009, Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow, voices similar concerns. Examining many of the prevailing attitudes and metaphors of language teaching, she argues that commodifying frameworks and managerial approaches to quality enhancement distract and impede us in the pursuit of what language teaching and learning could be.

Her presentation titled “Space to Language: Being Intercultural in a Breathless World” is available here.

Kurtz, Jürgen (2008). “Life Skills-Based Education in Secondary School Foreign Language Classrooms – Cornerstone of a Challenging Vision.” In: Doff, Sabine; Hüllen, Werner & Klippel, Friederike (eds.) Visions of Languages in Education. München: Langenscheidt ELT, 87-100.

Patton, Michael Quinn (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

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