Multicultural literature and intercultural theory in English 6 : A qualitative study of teachers’ experiences with multicultural literature in upper-secondary schools in Sweden

University essay from Mälardalens universitet/Akademin för utbildning, kultur och kommunikation

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to examine English language teachers’ choices and uses of literary texts, and more particularly, multicultural forms of literature from an intercultural pedagogical angle. Drawing on a qualitative approach, six English teachers’ experiences were explored using interviews. The interviews were semi-structured which gave the English teachers the opportunity to share their reasonings behind working interculturally with multicultural literature. The English teachers perceived both potentials and problems when dealing with multicultural literature, both of which were analysed through content analysis.   The results revealed that the English teachers made conscious decisions when choosing multicultural literature for their classes. They based their curricula on the different backgrounds and nationalities found in their classroom in order to represent voices outside of the traditional canon and mainstream culture. It was also found that the teachers were positive towards working interculturally with multicultural literature as it aided in promoting social harmony as well as negotiating conflict and new perspectives on foreign cultures and identities. However, it was also found that the English teachers experienced challenges due to several issues, such as not being an expert on a particular culture, silence among students, and censorship issues. The findings from the study indicate that teachers need to be trained on and provided with the necessary pedagogical tools on how to represent different cultures, as well as how to approach sensitive topics on race and culture included in multicultural literature. 

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