Many language teachers recognize the value of cultural content in the foreign language classroom, not least because it brings the foreign language to life, motivates learners, and offers rich affordances for fostering intercultural competencies alongside linguistic and communicative proficiency. But it is not always clear to teachers how best to incorporate cultural content into language lessons, let alone how to balance what are often seen as the competing goals of language learning and culture learning. Teachers are no less likely to agree on what ‘culture’ means and on what cultural content is appropriate in the language classroom. This is not surprising given that the construct of ‘culture’ is perhaps one of the most contested in the social sciences.
Against this backdrop of challenges, the past 30 years or so of scholarship in the field of intercultural language learning offers teachers valuable insights into how culture and intercultural learning can be incorporated into everyday foreign language lessons in ways that enrich language learning outcomes. In this talk I explore key themes from this scholarship alongside the typical concerns, constraints and needs of language teachers. In doing so, I will highlight the ways in which teachers can foster intercultural development in young learners in the foreign language classroom, even when working with conventional textbooks and fixed curricula.