Coursebook authors on the role of literature in developing intercultural competence

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This paper focuses on Finnish English language textbook authors' understanding of the role of literature in the development of upper secondary school English students' intercultural competence. The interviews were held in 2017 and analyzed using a qualitative, phenomenological method to establish the interviewees' understanding of literature and intercultural learning and the way these concepts interconnect. The interviewees understood literature from the perspectives of multiple modalities, forms and content. Intercultural learning was seen as specific kinds of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Literature was seen to support primarily the cognitive and skills' aspects of intercultural learning, but affective and behavioural aspects were also recognized. The results are discussed in relation to Hubert Zaph's (2016) tripartite model on the functions of imaginative texts and contextualized within Turunen's (1992) framework on the ontology of values. Understanding the role of literature in growing, expanding and detailing students' story worlds and diversifying perspectives suggests the authors may recognize the function of literature as cultural-critical meta-discourse and imaginative counter-discourse. This, however, requires further research. The results do, however, suggest there is a need to clarify the function of literature as re-integrative inter-discourse, as this kind of interdisciplinary discourse is also encouraged in the National Curriculum for General Upper Secondary Education in Finland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-77
JournalChildren's Literature in English Language Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • literature
  • culture
  • intercultural competence
  • textbook authors
  • functional theory of imaginative texts

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