This case study investigated how one teacher, Lidia (a pseudonym), used her own cross-cultural experiences to socially and academically assist elementary school students who were crossing cultural boundaries of their own. This study used ethnographic interviews and classroom observations to explore Lidia’s experiences and struggles as she crossed cultural boundaries and built intercultural competence and how those experiences related to her teaching methods. Lidia used stories, multicultural images, and the students’ home languages so that her students could become confident in their multicultural and multilingual identities instead of solely assimilating. Teaching interculturally for Lidia meant empowering students to balance their home cultures while creating meaningful opportunities for them to practice English and school cultural norms. This study adds to literature on intercultural competence and communities of practice by exploring how interculturality may be advantageous in helping teachers work with diverse and international students by allowing them to act as brokers within the school’s community.


English Language Teaching, Elementary School, Interculturality, Communities of Practice, Sociocultural Theory, Ethnographic Case Study, Multilingualism

Author Bio(s)

Carmen Durham completed her MA at Michigan State University and is now a PhD student at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has worked as a Spanish, Romanian, and English as a second language instructor. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed to Carmen Durham at durhamcarmen1@gmail.com..


My sincere gratitude to the ESL staff who participated in this study. Although you remain anonymous here, I hope you recognize the true impact you make in the lives of students around the world. I also thank Amanda Lanier-Temples and the anonymous reviewer for their helpful insight and constructive comments throughout the writing process.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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