Developing Intercultural Competences for Teachers in Multicultural Contexts.

Voices, Choices and Challenges.

 

Daničle Moore

Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

and Diltec, Sorbonne-Nouvelle, France

 

 

The contribution will discuss some key choices and challenges associated with the development and assessement of (inter/pluri/trans)-cultural competence for pre-service teachers in a highly multilingual and multicultural context. The specific contact situation of Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) will serve as a backgrounder for the discussion, with a focus on Aboriginal/First Nations and French Teacher Education as the two high priority areas for the promotion and protection of diversity in the BC context.

 

Diversity has always been a force in Canada’s development. By 2017, one in five Canadians will come from a visible minority group (Government of Canada, 2004). In BC alone, Vancouver ranks as one of the most diverse city in the world (Nations Unies, 2004). Canada stands apart in its acceptance and recognition of differences within the population as a source of strength. In BC, the Ministry of Education has developed a number of policies and documents to honour diversity. Guidelines outline criteria related to the academic K-12 program, to ensure equitable access for all students. Policies promote the monitoring and development of supporting material and learning resources that are inclusive and representative of the population (e.g. Diversity in BC Schools. A Framework, 2004).

 

Within this context, the goals of the Professional Development Program (PDP) for pre-service teachers highlight a continuing commitment to respect students and their development, and to value lifelong learning through openness, reflective practice, and active participation and cooperation with the local communities. Within this general framework, Aboriginal/First Nations and French Teacher Education are two high priority areas. The programs value a community approach to learning and intercultural awareness, through mixed cohorts of student-teachers, indigenous and non-indigenous, francophone and francophile, working in elementary and secondary schools. The modules incorporate indigenous voices, local knowledge, and cultural resources available in the environment (First Nations and other communities residing in the metropolis). The framework aims to increase the skills and competencies of pre-service teachers working in communities with large populations of plurilingual and pluricultural children and youth in schools (including important numbers of Aboriginal learners, and in the case of French immersion, Chinese children). Teacher training is thus seen as a local contact zone where diverse linguistic and cultural networks meet, and intercultural dialogue is encouraged in and among the learners. Within this built-in context of linguistic and cultural contacts, observing, participating, experimenting and knowing are key components for the inclusion and development of teachers’ pluriculturalism. Language Biographies and Learning Portfolios are also priviledged tools to voice, record and assess experiences of contact with other cultures, and their significance for professional development.