INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN HUMANIDADES Y CIENCIAS SOCIALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Language and intercultural education: An interview with Michael Byram.
Pedagogies: An International Journal
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
This article reports an interview with Michael Byram, Professor Emeritus, University of Durham in the UK, during his visit to Argentina in September 2011. Michael Byram is one of the main international referents in intercultural education. The interview addresses issues such as language education, intercultural and citizenship education, education in general, formal schooling, critical pedagogies, political and economic factors involved in education, teacher education, and research in education, among others. Even though Byram specializes in foreign language education and focuses upon language education in particular at certain moments in the interview, the connection with other subjects in the school curriculum surfaces at all times, as does the connection with general aspects of education, which are relevant to all the actors involved in this field. This interview is framed within current understandings of the cultural dimension of language education and education in general. In order to introduce the reader to this framework, the paper first addresses the connection between language and culture in a historical perspective, which makes Byram's work relevant to all educators (not only language educators). It goes on to provide an outline of Byram's model of intercultural competence for the description of cultural understanding. Topics of general interest emerge such as the role of emotion, affect and imagination in education as well as the interconnection among culture, language, imagination and literature - something that Byram and his colleagues have put forth. The discussion is permeated by identity issues which are involved in the learning and teaching of any language, and in the learning and teaching, in a given language, of any discipline. The centrality of language in education becomes manifest, and consequently the relevance of Byram´s work to all the actors involved in education in one way or another. Throughout the political and ideological dimensions of education are touched upon, along with a discussion of the pedagogical implications of the various theoretical considerations addressed in the paper.