Foreign Language Teaching in the Argentinian Curriculum

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Language IV

Gustavo V. Pasquali

Foreign Language Teaching in the Curriculum

Education in Argentina has undergone extensive changes over the past two
decades. The advent of the National Education Law (Ley de Educación Nacional
26.206), enacted in 2006, has had a special impact on the teaching of foreign
languages. Based on this law, learning a second language became mandatory at
primary and secondary education levels. In 2006, The Core of Learning Priorities
(Núcleos de Aprendizajes Prioritarios, NAPs) were introduced for public and private
schools. These encompass objectives, contents and approaches for all school
subjects. Provinces are thus expected to develop curriculums based on this corpus.
A key aspect of recent language reform is the introduction of intercultural
competence as a goal of language education. This reform has reflected national
policies which aim for an intercultural and plurilingual perspective of English Language
Learning. The present educational law set the grounds for the development of inclusive
educational strategies which have significantly contributed to introducing a plurality of
voices into the teaching of a foreign language. The introduction of intercultural
competencies as one of the main goals of language learning has now become a crucial
objective in foreign language curriculums for all the regions in the country. The
integration of a foreign language in the curriculum, from primary to secondary school,
provides the students with the opportunity to increase social competence by fostering
an awareness of and sensitivity to differences in social customs and behaviours as well
as to see their own languages and cultures in a new light which recognises and
appreciates diversity and equality. This interplay entails a dynamic view of culture
which is manifested through the process of language teaching known as Intercultural
Language Teaching (ILT). Liddicoat (2001, p. 52) states that

[...] It is only possible to understand another culture by comparing it to one’s own.
Learning about one’s own culture is an important part of this process, because
we often do not realize that our natural ways of behaving are culturally
determined. As a result, in order to learn about another culture, we need to learn
about our own.

This conception highlights the importance of creating bridges between the
different languages – and their associated cultures – and the students‘ own reality. It is
through this process of interaction and comparison that students are encouraged to
assess both cultures from a ‘third place’ (Kramsch, 1993, p. 257). This position – or
contact zone – permits learners interact comfortably with the other culture while
maintaining their own identity.
Furthermore, The Core of Learning Priorities (NAPs) clearly place emphasis on
the development of intercultural awareness:
La perspectiva plurilingüe e intercultural […] apunta a tornar visibles las
relaciones entre las lenguas y culturas que están o podrían estar en el
currículum y a sensibilizar hacia la pluralidad constitutiva de estas lenguas y
culturas. Apunta, asimismo, a contribuir a que la enseñanza de lenguas en el
contexto escolar reconozca el papel del español en tanto lengua de
escolarización y sus distintas variedades y valorice el lugar de las otras lenguas
y culturas maternas diferentes del español que circulan en Argentina.

The present Education Law establishes clear guidelines for inclusive education
policies. These policies have been designed to cater for the significant inequalities in
past learning conditions. Foreign language programs such as Jornada Extendida help
to significantly enhance the conditions for foreign language learning in economically
disadvantaged students. All students need access to quality education that promotes
and encourages their success. Hart and Harris (1992) found out that students in
vulnerable areas who were given foreign language instruction as an extra-curricular
activity were able to reinforce concepts that had already been taught in the regular
classroom. Although the National Education Law 26206 seeks to promote more
democratic and inclusive ideals, there are still unsolved problems which, if not attended
to, may hinder the preservation of indigenous languages – as is the case, for example,
of the Qom community. Despite the fact that under the current legislation indigenous
languages are given the same importance as any other language, their systematic
marginalization from the educational system is still a highly controversial issue.
The intercultural and multilingual approach to the teaching of foreign languages in
Argentina advocates identity through language and recognises linguistic diversity. The
four macro-skills, critical reflection about the language being learnt and opportunities
for intercultural reflection give shape to the key principles established in the NAPs. As a
result, Foreign Language Teaching is conceived as a means of fostering the acquisition
of democratic values and behaviours and the development of citizenship skills.


Consejo Federal de Educación (2012). Núcleos de Aprendizajes Prioritarios.
Lenguas Extranjeras. Educación Primaria y Secundaria. Resolución Nº 181/12.







Hart, A. and J. Harris. (1992). An Assistant Superintendent and
Curriculum Specialist View the Models. In Met, M., ed. Critical Issues in

Early Language Learning. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching.

Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Liddicoat, A.J. (2002). Static and dynamic views of culture and intercultural
language acquisition. Babel, 36(3), 4–11, 37

Ministerio de Educación de la Nación, Consejo Federal de Educación.
Resoluciones 93/09 y 103/10 y Anexos.

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