Literature for critical cultural awareness

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The purpose of the study described in this chapter is to demonstrate how gender stereotypes can be uncovered in language teaching, whilst refining the notion of ‘critical cultural awareness’ through the concepts of ‘ideology’ and ‘essentialism’. The research was located in the British Higher Education sector and consisted of three case studies replicated with different groups of learners totalling 68 final year honours undergraduates learning the Spanish language. It focused on bringing views of Hispanic gender identities to the fore as a consciousness-raising pedagogical strategy through the reading of a short story about the experiences of two women from the impoverished suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The research comprises documentary data (students’ diaries) and conversational data (class discussions, oral presentations and interviews). The chapter describes the teaching approach and the ways in which students reacted and responded to the literary text. It also provides empirical evidence of what ‘critical cultural awareness’ means in this study with suggestions of how it can be pedagogically developed. The results of the study indicate that when literature is used as a consciousness-raising resource, it can lead to an increased awareness of ethnocentric views and the impact that these can have on intercultural relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Critical Turn in Language and Intercultural Communication Pedagogy
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research and Practice
EditorsMaria Dasli, Adriana Raquel Díaz
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781315667294
ISBN (Print)9781138953451
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameStudies in Language and Intercultural Communication


  • intercultural competences
  • language education
  • critical cultural awareness
  • gender identity
  • British higher education
  • literature
  • essentialism
  • stereotypes

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