Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



NECTFL Review. 75 (January 2015), 15-30.


Copyright (c) 2015 NECTFL Review. Used by permission.


Preparing learners to interact appropriately and effectively while participating in intercultural relationships is a key component of foreign language curricula. The notion of critical cultural awareness, which is embedded within the framework of intercultural communicative competence, encourages language educators to craft learning opportunities that guide learners in observing clear connections between classroom lessons and real-world issues while exercising critical thinking skills throughout the process. Although research by Byram (1997, 2012) has demonstrated the importance of critical cultural awareness, few studies have illustrated how critical cultural awareness can be developed in a classroom setting while working to achieve language proficiency. This paper summarizes the literature on critical cultural awareness and presents practical lessons for secondary- and university-level foreign language classrooms, thus enabling students to gain cultural and linguistic knowledge at the same time.