Abstract

Visual texts are part of everyday communication and they have the potential to carry multiple layers of meaning. This complexity is what makes them an ideal resource not only for language learning, but also for developing learners’ intercultural communicative competence and cultural awareness. Cultural meanings are not locked into these materials; they are emergent and dependent on cultural and subcultural membership, lived experiences, and the geo-cultural grounding of learners who interact with them. In a small-scale research project, we aimed to explore how the cultural background of language learners influences their meaning-making processes and we found that the meanings learners create operate on three levels: universal meanings, cultural and subcultural meanings, and, finally, individual meanings. The richness of students’ interpretations points to the need to draw on them as resources in the language classroom, as they can provide the basis for negotiating cultural understanding.

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