Re-imagining intercultural communication dynamics in TESOL: Culture/interculturality

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Purpose: This conceptual paper aims to problematize interculturality and intercultural communication within the conditions of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and today’s circumstances. In spite of the new emphasis on intersubjectivity and non-linearity in intercultural communication studies, TESOL seems to still perpetuate hyper-solid and essentialist representations of interculturality. This paper argues for the necessity of altering common perceptions of TESOL students by critically considering the imbalanced sociopolitical realities that may be reflected/encouraged in classrooms. Without accounting for the additional factors involved in using English while interacting with the culturally different other, TESOL may not be able to ensure mutually satisfactory communicative experience. 

Design/methodology/approach: Closer inspection is paid to intercultural communication research/pedagogy in TESOL to delineate the inaccuracies that have pervaded interculturality narratives and encourage sociopolitically conscious teaching that recognizes discourses of power and justice. 

Findings: A simplistic/positivist consideration of interculturality in TESOL is rather unresponsive to possible unfair treatment of students’ cultures and the current circumstances, which are imbued with a high sense of complexity and non-linearity, resulting in producing ready-made conclusions. 

Practical implications: This paper proposes embracing more complex approaches in accounting for the complexity of interculturality in TESOL pedagogy and research by taking into account intersubjectivity, suspending native-speakerism normativity, western hegemony and non-linearity of intercultural interactions. 

Originality/value: This paper recognizes the inefficiency of presenting interculturality as a matter of conforming to communication standards of Anglophone cultures but rather argues for the need of promoting inclusive education that appreciates cultural diversity and considering the conditions (identity and culture) of non-native speakers in TESOL. Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-188
JournalJournal for Multicultural Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


R’boul, H. (2020). Re-imagining intercultural communication dynamics in TESOL: Culture/interculturality. Journal for Multicultural Education, 14(2), 177-188. doi: 10.1108/JME-03-2020-0016


  • Intercultural communication
  • Intercultural language education
  • Interculturality


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