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Investigating the Status of Intercultural Communicative Competence in Algerian Middle Schools: The Case of the New Curriculum of EFL

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2021
Number of pages316
Awarding Institution
Award date8/09/2021
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This research is based on a qualitative exploratory enquiry which aims to investigate the status of culture in the new middle school curriculum of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in Algeria and its potential to develop learners’ ICC (Intercultural Communicative Competence). The current literature on ICC recognises the urgent need for FL (Foreign Language) education to shift from the traditional approach of teaching culture, which is knowledge based, to introducing the intercultural dimension instead. Consequently, FL institutions, mainly in Western contexts, have developed practical guidelines to help in implementing and assessing ICC (e.g. the Common European Framework of Reference, CEFR) in the classroom. However, Arab contexts such as the Algerian one, remain unexplored. The key question that this study addresses is How far does the cultural dimension of the new EFL curriculum in Algerian middle schools contribute to the development of learners’ ICC? Methodologically, this research is based on social constructionism; subsequently, an instrumental case study was undertaken drawing on EFL textbooks and semi-structured interviews with EFL educators as the main data sources. Data analysis is guided by Byram’s (1997) model of intercultural competence (IC). The findings of this study show that the new EFL textbooks, as the main resources for Algerian teachers and learners, take a nationalist and essentialist approach to addressing culture; therefore, barely encourage the development of ICC. Most cultural representations are Algerian-centred which means that learners’ CCA (Critical Cultural Awareness) is not developed. Similarly, analysis of participants’ perceptions, experiences, and teaching practices revealed that EFL teaching in Algeria is still focused on communicative competence, and culture teaching practices are highly influenced by religion and national identity, among other factors. Therefore, the ultimate objective of the new curriculum is to present and represent Algeria to the world.
Through focusing on two aspects of the EFL curriculum (textbooks and educators), a gap in authors and teachers’ interpretations of the same resources is identified. Thus, this study contributes to the literature, particularly, the factors that affect development of ICC; it also offers practical implications for EFL institutions and educators in Algeria.