Intercultural Competence in Swedish EFL Teaching: An Attitudinal Study on Teachers’ Beliefs
In a multicultural society and in a globalised world, it is essential that Swedish education aims to develop students’ Intercultural Competence (IC). This would enable students to meet other cultures without prejudice and with an open mind to other values and beliefs. Since the English language today is considered a lingua franca, IC has been argued to be an appropriate aim for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching. Hence, if IC is to be promoted in EFL teaching it is relevant to investigate teachers’ attitudes to this matter. Even though previous research has shown that teachers have mixed attitudes to the inclusion of IC, there is a lack of research on Swedish upper secondary school teachers’ attitudes. This study has filled this gap by conducting semi-structured interviews with five non-native Swedish EFL teachers in upper secondary school. The research questions of the study aimed to (1) address to what extent the teachers find IC an appropriate aim for EFL teaching, and to (2) investigate how the teachers feel the Swedish curriculum provides opportunities to incorporate IC in their teaching. The results showed that IC is, to some extent, promoted and perceived as an aim in EFL teaching. However, the curriculum was described as too vague and did not provide any thorough guidelines for the participants’ culture teaching. This indicates a need for a more explicit curriculum, if IC is to be ensured as an aim for Swedish EFL teaching.