Guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Howard Nicholas: How does a communicative repertoire approach help us to understand ourselves as teachers of an additional language?

Prof. Dr. Howard Nicholas
School of Education
La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

Tuesday, 18 June 2019
14.00-16.00 pm
Campus Neues Palais
Building 9, Room 1.14


Teachers of an additional language are positioned in an interesting intercultural place. Particularly in contexts where they are teaching a so-called ‘foreign’ language, they can often be one of the few models of that language (and culture) for the learners. In those same contexts, they are also required to demonstrate the characteristics of ‘good’ teachers called for by the ‘local’ culture. Since, by definition, the additional language/culture is different from the local culture, the teacher is required to engage with (at least) two norms simultaneously, in a sense to be more than one person, at least professionally if not also personally.

Kramsch (1993) has opened up this issue by invoking the idea of the third place and extending it (Kramsch 2009) into the notion of the symbolic competence of the multilingual subject. Kramsch’ major purpose was to build a case for peripheral participants in a culture to be considered a legitimate part of that culture. While I accept that purpose, I want to do something slightly different, I want to look at ways in which teachers as learners can (and perhaps have to?) come to embody additional ways of being and some of the interesting tensions that emerge when exploring which culture additional language teachers embody as they move between different possible linguacultures as well as when they teach about a target linguaculture (possibly from a position within a different one).

To understand some of what is embodied in moving between linguacultures, I will use the Multiplicity framework (Nicholas & Starks 2014) in an analysis of different aspects of the classroom and other behaviour of (1) Vietnamese teachers of English (see Starks & Nicholas 2017) and of (2) various Vietnamese teachers of other subjects engaged in a pedagogic transformation project. I aim to show how the engagement with ‘other’ cultures has consequences for the bodies of the learners and draw out some of the implications of what this means for our understanding of learning (and teaching) an additional language and ask questions about how we define desirable transcultural positionings for additional language teachers.

Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. New York, Oxford University Press.

Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. New York, Oxford University Press.

Nicholas, H. & Starks, D. (2014). Language education and applied linguistics: Bridging the two fields. London & New York, Routledge.  

Starks, D. & Nicholas, H. (2017). “Have you noticed any changes upon your return?” Vietnamese alumni after their Australian university experiences. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 46(3), 247-272.