Intercultural Competence in ELT Contexts: A Study of EFL Teachers’ Perceptions
Keywords: culture, ELT, intercultural competence, perceptions
Intercultural competence (IC) has been promoted by many educationalists as the most exalted type
of competence in modern foreign language teaching (FLT). Among the difficulties to incorporate
IC into FLT can be due to the fact that teachers may not have sufficient knowledge on the concept.
To test this hypothesis, we attempt to answer the following question: how do Algerian English as
a foreign language (EFL) teachers perceive the concepts of culture and IC as well as the objectives
of the intercultural approach (ICA) in English language teaching (ELT) contexts? The present
study proceeds to analyze teachers’ knowledge, perceptions and understanding of the concepts of
culture, IC and the ICA and seeks to identify any potential deficiencies that may hinder effective
IC teaching. The main aim of the study is then to help teacher trainers establish training programs
that address more efficiently targeted teachers’ needs with regard to IC teaching. This paper will
hopefully assist in improving the implementation of IC into FLT classrooms. Data were gathered
through semi-structured interviews with eight teachers and then analyzed thematically. The
findings revealed that many EFL teachers displayed a lack of theoretical understanding concerning
the ICA and its objectives, which may well impact negatively on their IC teaching practices.
Teacher educators therefore need to focus more on updating EFL teachers’ on both the theoretical
and practical levels that learners are today expected to grow as cultural mediators equipped with a
set of skills rather than as native-like proficient language users.