A Transcultural Approach to EIL Teaching and its Impact on Learners’ National Identities

  • José Igor Prieto-Arranz Universitat de les Illes Balears
  • Karen Jacob Universitat de les Illes Balears


This article reports on an initiative characterised by a transcultural approach to English Language Teaching (ELT) which may be seen as an instance of Internationalisation at Home (IAH). Participants were ninety-five learners of English from three secondary schools in Spain and Poland who stayed in touch throughout the project through Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC). The article explores the impact of this particular IAH experience on the participants’ national identities through a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Data point to national identity discourses being perceived very differently by the Spanish and Polish participants in the sample, and show how the participants’ positions with regard to such discourses change during the programme. The results challenge the notion that transcultural competence may result in the individual perceiving him/herself as culturally closer to members of other imagined communities. Instead, they point to the gradual erasure of national imagined communities as transcultural competence develops, thus opening up a new avenue of research.Keywords: Internationalisation at Home; national identity; transcultural pedagogy; English as an International Language; Computer-Mediated Communication; ethnocentrism

Author Biographies

José Igor Prieto-Arranz, Universitat de les Illes Balears
José Igor Prieto-Arranz is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of the Balearic Islands. He teaches British history and culture, English language and critical theory at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has authored/edited numerous volumes and his articles have been published in prestigious international journals. He is currently the University of the Balearic Islands’ Directorof Internationalisation.
Karen Jacob, Universitat de les Illes Balears
Karen Jacob is an assistant lecturer at the University of the Balearic Islands. She teaches subjects in the English Studies and Primary Education BA degrees and in the Teacher Training and Linguistics and Literature MA degrees. Her research interests include Innovation in English Language Teaching, CLIL and Cultural Competence in EFL.


Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. London and New York: Verso.

Baker, Will. 2009. “Intercultural Awareness and Intercultural Communication through English: An Investigation of Thai English Language Users in Higher Education.” PhD diss., University of Southampton.

Bell, Claudia and Steve Matthewman, eds. 2004. Cultural Studies in Aotearoa New Zealand. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Bhabha, Homi K. 1994. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.

Block, David. 2010. “Globalization and Language Teaching.” In Coupland 2010, 287-304.

Bogardus, Emory S. 1925. “Measuring Social Distance.” Journal of Applied Sociology 9: 299-308.

BOIB. 2015. Decreto 20/2015, de 17 de abril, de principios generales y directrices de coordinación en materia turística; de regulación de órganos asesores, de coordinación y de cooperación del Gobierno de las Illes Balears, y de regulación y clasificación de las empresas y de los establecimientos turísticos, dictado en desarrollo de la Ley 8/2012, de 19 de julio, de Turismo de las Illes Balears. [Accessed online on August 15, 2017].

Brown, James D. and Theodore S. Rodgers. 2002. Doing Second Language Research. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Byram, Michael, Veronica Esarte-Sarries and Susan Taylor. 1991. Cultural Studies and Language Learning: A Research Report. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Byram, Michael, Prue Holmes and Nicola Savvides. 2013. “Intercultural Communicative Competence in Foreign Language Education: Questions of Theory, Practice and Research.” The Language Learning Journal 41 (3): 251-53.

Carter, Ian. 2004. “Eternal Recurrence of the Trivially New: Food and Popular Culture.” In Bell and Matthewman 2004, 84-102.

Coleman, James A. 2006. “English-Medium Teaching in European Higher Education.” Language Teaching 39 (1): 1-14.

Coupland, Nikolas, ed. 2010. The Handbook of Language and Globalization. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell.

Crowther, Paul et al., eds. 2000. Internationalisation at Home: A Position Paper. Amsterdam: European Association for International Education.

Dörnyei, Zoltan. 2010. The Psychology of the Language Learner. Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. New York and London: Routledge.

Feng, Jinjuan, Jonathan Lazar and Jenny Preece. 2004. “Empathy and Online Interpersonal Trust: A Fragile Relationship.” Behaviour & Information Technology 23 (2): 97-106.

Firth, Alan and Johannes Wagner. 2007. “On Discourse, Communication and (Some) Fundamental Concepts in SLA Research.” The Modern Language Journal 91: 757-72.

González García, Mª del Mar. 2004. Evaluación de la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de la lengua inglesa: Educación Secundaria Obligatoria 2001. Madrid: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Instituto de Evaluación y Calidad del Sistema Educativo (INECSE).

Graddol, David. 2000. The Future of English? A Guide to Forecasting the Popularity of the English Language in the Twenty-First Century. London: British Council.

Grave, Ewa M. 2008. “Foreign Languages in Poland: A Shift in Perspectives and Motivations.” Journal of Language and Culture of Hokkaido 6: 7-12.

Hall, Stuart. 1991. “Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities.” In King 1991, 41-68.

Held, David. 2002. “Culture and Political Community: National, Global, and Cosmopolitan.” In Vertovec and Cohen 2002, 48-58.

Higgins, Christina. 2011. “Introduction to Part II.” In Higgins 2011, 121-26.

—, ed. 2011. Identity Formation in Globalizing Contexts: Language Learning in the New Millenium. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Jensen, Geoffrey. 2000. “Military Nationalism and the State: The State of Fin-de-Siècle Spain.” Nations and Nationalism 62 (2): 257-74.

King, Anthony D., ed. 1991. Culture, Globalization and the World System: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity. Binghamton: SUNY P.

Kramsch, Claire. 1993. Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Levy, Mike. 2007. “Culture, Culture Learning and New Technologies: Towards a Pedagogical Framework.” Language Learning and Technology 11 (2): 104-27.

Malek, Abbas and Anandam P. Kavoori, eds. 2000. The Global Dynamics of News: Studies in International News Coverage and News Agenda. Stamford, CT: Ablex.

Mestre i Sureda, Bartomeu. 2002. La identitat reeixida. Palma de Mallorca: Perifèrics.

Modern Language Association Ad Hoc Committee on Languages. 2007. “Foreign Language and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World.” Modern Language Association of America. [Accessed online on June 11, 2013].

Moreno, Luis. 1997. “Federalization and Ethnoterritorial Concurrence in Spain.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 27 (4): 65-84.

Nilsson, Bengt. 2000. “Internationalising the Curriculum: The Context.” In Crowther et al. 2000, 21-27.

Osgood, Charles E., George J. Suci and Percy H. Tannenbaum. (1957) 1975. The Measurement of Meaning. Champaign, IL: U of Illinois P.

Osler, Audrey and Hugh Starkey. 2005. Citizenship and Learning: International Perspectives. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.

Sadkowski, Konrad. 2000. “The Roman Catholic Clergy, the Byzantine Slavonic Rite and Polish National Identity: The Case of Grabowiec, 1931-34.” Religion, State and Society 28 (2): 175-84.

Schumann, John H. 1986. “Research on the Acculturalization Model for Second Language Acquisition.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 7 (5): 379-92.

Slimbach, Richard. 2005. “The Transcultural Journey.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 11 (1): 205-30.

Thompson, Celia H. 2011. “A Dialogic Approach to the Design of a Transcultural Communication Classroom Activity for Multilingual Learners.” Language, Culture and Curriculum 24 (3): 207-20.

Thussu, Daya K. 2000. “Development News Versus Globalized Infotainment.” In Malek and Kavoori 2000, 323-43.

Truchot, Claude. 2002. Key Aspects of the Use of English in Europe. Strasbourg: COE.

Urry, John. 1995. Consuming Places. London: Routledge.

Vertovec, Steven and Robin Owen, eds. Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context and Practice. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Wächter, Bernd. 2000. “Internationalisation at Home – The Context.” In Crowther et al. 2000, 5-14.

Ward, Ian. 2001. “Fairyland and its Fairy Kings and Queens.” Journal of Historical Sociology 14 (1): 1-20.