In earlier models of language teaching and learning, culture was represented as a combination of literary and historical resources, and visible, functional aspects of a community group’s way of life such as food, celebrations and folklore. While these elements of culture are parts of cultural experience and organisation, current orientations to language teaching and learning employ a less static model of culture. Culture is understood as a framework in which things come to be seen as having meaning. It involves the lens through which:

  • people see, think, interpret the world and experience
  • make assumptions about self and others
  • understand and represent individual and community identity.

Culture involves understandings about ‘norms’ and expectations, which shape perspectives and attitudes. It can be defined as social practices, patterns of behaviour, and organisational processes and perspectives associated with the values, beliefs and understandings shared by members of a community or cultural group. Language, culture and identity are understood to be closely interrelated and involved in the shaping and expression of each other. The intercultural orientation to language teaching and learning is informed by this understanding.