Publication Date

Spring 6-1-2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Master of Arts in TESOL)

First Advisor

Leslie Turpin


Traditional language teaching approaches assume a strong focus on linguistic proficiency, syntax, and grammar. This thesis makes the case that culture and language must be given equal consideration in a language curriculum, and educators must approach their work with a critical eye for the cultural identities of each of their students. The author examines the ways that learner identity, most notably as it pertains to race and sexual orientation, is a crucial element to consider as teachers build in areas of representation to mirror their learners. The author lays out the theoretical foundation of culturally responsive teaching and points out where they intersect with the tenets of intercultural competence, applying this framework to a world language unit. This paper underlines how educators can prepare students for successful intercultural encounters by developing their awareness of their own cultural perspective. The paper concludes by sharing teacher experiences of cultural conflict in the classroom, collected in survey responses, and explores how intercultural skills could help people to navigate conflict. Ultimately, the author reveals where and how a widened emphasis on interculturality should be applied to teacher development at every level.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Language and Literacy Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development