Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1461-0213
  • E-ISSN: 1570-5595



This paper explores headteachers’ and teachers’ perceptions of foreign languages(FL) and cultural learning in three primary schools in areas of disadvantage in England. Drawing upon a new theoretical frame for primary languages, Critical Cosmopolitanism (Delanty, 2006Beck and Sznaider, 2006) and The Grammar of Culture (Holliday, 2018), we argue that the grand narrative of a target language inhabited by a target culture is outdated and approaches to cultural learning in primary schools could lead the way. There is substantial evidence that most learners find language lessons fun, particularly activities such as songs, stories and intercultural events (Driscoll et al., 20042014Cable et al. 2010). The discourse on conditions for inclusive practice is less commonplace and little is known about FL learning in areas of high deprivation (Nikolov & Mihaljević Djigunović, 2011). Teachers and headteachers in this study were committed to cultural learning and staff adopted creative approaches to teaching. The findings, however, also indicate that traditional notions of a mono or homogenised national culture with associated stereotypes linger in teachers’ framing of FL. There exists a need for a more personalised approach to cultural learning drawing upon children’s own cultural experiences. Data was analysed thematically following strict ethical guidelines and all names were anonymised to ensure confidentiality.

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