Education for Democratic Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom: Intercultural Citizenship Education and Service Learning


Michael Byram

Foreign language teaching needs to have both instrumental and educational value, especially in an increasingly internationalised world. While providing communicative skills is at the heart of the discipline, its responsibility to deal with global challenges, encourage critical thinking, and provide opportunities for students to take action locally and globally must be considered as of equal importance and value. Intercultural Citizenship Education and Intercultural Service Learning are two pedagogies that incorporate this connection between foreign language learning and democratic culture. Intercultural Citizenship Education combines foreign language education and education for (intercultural) citizenship. Service Learning as well as recent developments of Intercultural Service Learning link formal learning and community service. The two approaches have different origins and applications, but a comparison of the two reveals considerable similarities and the potential for mutual enrichment. I will therefore refer to work by Petra Rauschert in Munich University and not only explain the two pedagogies and present examples but also demonstrate their complementarity. Applying both concepts to foreign language education will open new and substantial ways of fostering intercultural communicative as well as democratic competences, and in the final section I will link this work to the new Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture.