North Island College Teaching & Learning Supports
Teach Anywhere

Teaching as a Cultural Practice

Whether to prepare students for a study abroad experience or for teaching in a diverse classroom, as faculty we all can benefit from learning how our culture informs our teaching, our values, our reaction to difference. Becoming aware of the influences that forged what we believe is true and important is an asset in all types of intercultural interactions. It helps us put our views and values in perspective; i.e. see them as part of many other ways of thinking, and not a basic human truth. This section offers resources on:

  • Understanding how culture impacts teaching and learning
  • Understanding cultural introspection and how this approach can help us enhance our intercultural fluency as educators


Culture and Teaching 

Intercultural Teaching Competence in the Disciplines: Teaching Strategies for Intercultural Learning – This article is, “[b]ased on focus group interviews with instructors in eighteen disciplines. [I]t provides varied and concrete examples of how instructors mobilize intercultural teaching competence to navigate diverse classrooms, promote perspective-taking and global learning goals among students, practice culturally relevant teaching, and validate different ways of knowing and communicating among students through assessment practices” (p. 1).

The authors of this article, Dimitrov and Haque identify three components of Intercultural Teaching Competence (ITC): Foundational, Facilitation and Curriculum Design. A quick summary of each competence with suggestions for developing each one, is provided by The Centre for Teaching and Learning Western University

Part of Teaching as a Cultural Practice is the idea of teaching across cultural strengths.

In this video, Chávez and Longerbeam discuss Teaching Across Cultural Strengths in an online classroom. Video link: or embedded below.


Deardorff’s (2020) Manual for developing intercultural competencies: Story circles. UNESCO, available at This ‘manual’ outlines how Story Circles can be used to promote intercultural dialogue, “through the strengthening of interaction and dialogue across differences” (x).


Cultural Introspection

Cultural introspection involves looking inside oneself, at the ways in which our culture has shaped every aspect of us; our values, beliefs, behaviours, assumptions, and our interactions with others.

Specifically, cultural introspection facilitates:

  • learning to understand our reactions to the Other
  • an appreciation that an “international experience” (whether going to study abroad, an international exchange or engaging with diverse others in a classroom), can be more than travelling or working with people from another country. It can be an opportunity to learn more about who we are, where we come from, and ways to understand and respect others who are different from ourselves
  • understanding our own lens of the world when preparing students for international experiences

Click on Cultural Introspection for a brief summary.

In Teaching across cultural strengths: A guide to balancing integrated and individuated cultural frameworks in college teaching (2016, Virginia: Stylus Publishing), Chávez and Longerbeam (available through Amazon), explores how culture influences college teaching and learning. It, “offers a comprehensive set of guidelines based on a sound theoretical foundation, as well as empirical research that will enable college teachers to narrow the gap in cross-cultural teaching and student learning and assist teachers in transforming learning for all students across the many cultures that exist in the classroom. By following the steps outlined in this book, teachers can progressively learn about the role of culture in learning while transforming their teaching through introspection, reflection, practice, and the application of new teaching pedagogies that deepen student learning” (p. xi).