Teachers’ intercultural competence: a requirement or an option in a culturally diverse classroom?

Ibis Marlene Álvarez Valdivia, Iosbel González Montoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper reports an exploratory study of the development of intercultural competence (IC) in elementary school teachers in Catalonia, Spain, utilising mixed-method quantitative and qualitative assessments. Through enrolment in a teacher training activity, the starting point was the administration of the Intercultural development inventory (IDI) to assess IC. Later, a discussion group was held to reflect on the results of the evaluation and to discuss educational practices in the face of cultural diversity. The quantitative IDI findings indicated that, regardless of the presence of foreign origin students at schools, participant teachers overestimate their level of intercultural sensitivity; there is a tendency to emphasise similarities in all cultures, which can minimise significant cultural differences. Nevertheless, the teachers became interested in cultural diversity after considering their potentially controversial and problematic educational context. Beyond admitted limitations of this study, inherent to small-scale methodological approach, our practice-based reflective proposal highlights obstacles and potentialities for managing cultural diversity in the classroom. These findings support the conclusion that IC is distributed throughout members of a community rather than being strictly an individual attribute. At the same time, the study thus demonstrates a mixed-method training design as an effective means of developing and assessing IC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-526
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018


  • Intercultural competence
  • elementary school teachers
  • ethnocentrism
  • inclusive education
  • multicultural context
  • teacher training


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