Intercultural Learning Across Contexts

Kristin Beate VASBØ


International youth work in Europe (i.e. non-formal learning) demands a renewal of the prominent intercultural theory and framework in the youth field in order to cope with contemporary questions concerning pluralism and global challenges. This article provides a new theoretical framework for intercultural learning that departs from a complex, multicultural, social reality. Furthermore, the article explores how young people today experience international youth exchanges as arenas for learning in relation to other learning arenas in and out of school. The data consists of interviews and participant observation of a Norwegian youth group preparing for, participating in and reflecting on their experiences in an international youth Exchange programme. The findings show that participation in international youth exchanges, in addition to cultural knowledge, may contribute to increased motivation for learning, enhanced selfunderstanding and personal growth that seems transferable to other contexts. Furthermore, global youth culture plays a crucial role in young people`s experiences of being like one another across national borders, cultures and social realities.


International Youth Exchange, Intercultural Learning, Cultural Diversity, Intercultural Communication, Learner-Identity

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic EU Education Programs
Pages 83 - 93
Issue IEJEE, Volume 6, Issue 1, Special Issue Multilingual Policies and Multilingual Education in the Nordic Countries
Date of acceptance 01 October 2013
Read (times) 526
Downloaded (times) 271

Author(s) Details

Kristin Beate VASBØ

University of Oslo, Norway, Norway


Appadurai, A. (2001). Globalization. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Bakhtin, M. & Slaattelid, R. (2005). Spørsmålet om talegenrane. Oslo: Pensumtjenesten.

Bakhtin, M., Holquist, M., & Emerson, C. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Binkley, M., Erstad, O., Herman, J., Raizen, S., & Ripley, M. (2010). Draft White Paper 1: Defining 21st CenturySkills. Retrieved from

Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dahl, Ø. (2006). Bridges of understanding: Perspectives on intercultural communication. In Ø. Dahl, I. Jensen, & P. Nynäs (Eds.), Bridges of understanding: Perspectives on intercultural communication. Oslo: Unipub Forlag.

Delors, J. (1996). Learning: The treasure within: Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

Denzin, N. K & Lincoln, Y. S. (2003). Introduction. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The landscape of qualitative research: Theories and issues. London: Sage.

Fennes, H. & Hapgood, K. (1997). Intercultural learning in the classroom: Crossing borders. London: Cassell.

Ford, M. E., & Nichols, C. W. (1991). Using a goal assessment to identify motivational patterns and facilitate behavioral regulation and achievement. In M. Maehr, & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Goals and self-regulatory processes. Advances in motivation and achievement, Vol. 7 (pp. 61-84). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Friesenhahn, G. J., Schild, H., Wicke, H-G. & Balogh, J. (2013). Introduction. In G. J. Friesenhahn, H. Schild, H-G. Wicke, & J. Balogh (Eds.), Learning mobility and non-formal learning in European contexts: Policies, approaches and examples. Paris: European Commission.

Gee, J. P. (1999). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. New York: Routledge.

Gomes, R. & Cunha, T. (2008). Against the waste of experiences in intercultural learning. COYOTE, 13, 8-14.

Gomes, R. (2009). In the background of the seminar. Outlining twenty years of experience. In I. Ramberg (Ed.), Intercultural learning in European youth work: Which way forward? Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Hall, E.T. (1976). Beyond culture. New York: Doubleday

Hannerz, U. (1992). Cultural complexity: Studies in the social organization of meaning. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hartmeyer, H. (2008). Experiencing the world: Global learning in Austria: Developing, reaching out, crossing borders. Münster: Waxman.

Heath, S. B. & Street, B. V. (2008). On ethnography: Approaches to language and literacy research. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hofstede, G. (1994). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind: Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. London: HarperCollins Business.

Holland, D. & Leander, K. M. (2004). Ethnographic studies of positioning and subjectivity: An introduction. Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 32, 127-139.

Holland, D., Lachicotte, W. L., Skinner, D. & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Illman, R. (2004). Gränser och gränsöverskridanden: skildrade erfarenheter av kulturella möten i internationellt projektarbete. Åbo: Åbo Akademisk förlag.

Jensen, I. (2004). The practice of intercultural communication: Reflections for professionals in cultural encounters. In G. Titley (Ed.), Resituating culture. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Lauritzen, P. (1998). Intercultural learning – One big bluff or a learning strategy for the future? Concepts, objectives and practices in informal education. European Journal of Intercultural Studies, 9 (Supplement), 35-48.

Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning, and values. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Markussen, E., Frøseth, M. W., Lødding, B., & Sandberg, N. (2008). Bortvalg og kompetanse. NIFU STEP Rapport 13/2008. Oslo: NIFU STEP.

Nynäs, P. (2001). Bakom Guds rygg: en hermeneutisk ansats till interkulturell kommunikation och förståelse i industriella projekt. Åbo: Åbo Akademis förlag.

Otten, H. (2009). Ten theses on the correlation between European youth work, intercultural learning and the qualification and professionalization demands on full and part-time staff working in such contexts. In I. Ramberg (Ed.), Intercultural learning in European youth work: Which way forward? Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Ramberg, I. (Ed.). (2009). Intercultural learning in European youth work: Which way forward? Budapest: Council of Europe.

Rommetveit, R. (2004). Om dialogisme og relasjonen mellom individuell psyke og kulturelt kollektiv. In I. Frønes, & T. S. Wetlesen (Eds.), Dialog, selv og samfunn. Oslo: Abstrakt Forlag

Roth, J. (1999). Intercultural learning in European youth work: Some east-west perspectives. COYOTE, Issue 0 (July 1999). Retrieved from;

Ryan, G. W. & Bernard, H. R. (2003). Techniques to identify themes. Field Methods, 15(1), 85-109.

Shames, W. & Alden, P. (2005). The impact of short term study abroad on the identity development of college students with learning disabilities and/or AD/HD. Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 165–177. Retrieved from

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Suarez-Orozco, M. M. & Satting, C. (2007). Introduction: Learning in the global era international perspectives on globalization and education. In M. M. Suarez-Orozco (Ed.), Learning in the global era: International perspectives on globalization and education. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Suarez-Orozco, M. M. (Ed.) (2007). Learning in the global era: International perspectives on globalization and education. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Svane, M. (2004). Interkulturel dynamik i kulturmødet: en fænomenologisk, individorienteret analyse og forståelse. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.

Titley, G. (2008). Youth, intercultural learning and cultural politics in Europe: Some current debates. Youth Studies Ireland, 3(1), 3-14.

Titley, Gavan (2005/2007), Plastic, Political and Contingent: Intercultural learning in DYS activities. In I. Ramberg (Ed.) (2007), Intercultural Learning in European Youth Work: Which Ways Forward? Budapest: Council of Europe Publishing, pp. 59-85.

Trompenaars, F. (1993). Riding the waves of culture: Understanding cultural diversity in business. London: Nicholas Brealey.

Vasbø, K. (2011). Det interkulturelle ungdomsmøtet som læringsarena. En etnografisk studie av læring mellom formelle og uformell kontekster. Universitetet i Oslo. Nr. 139. ISSN 1501-8962. Unipub.

Vasbø, K. (under review). Interkulturelt ungdomsarbeid i spennet mellom gamle og nye forestillinger om kulturell forskjellighet. Tidsskrift for Ungdomsforskning, 2013 (2).

Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6), 1024-1054.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Problems of general psychology: Including the volume thinking and speech. In R. W. Rieber & A. S. Carton (Eds.), The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. New York: Plenum Press.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wortham, S. (2006). Learning identity: The joint emergence of social identification and academic learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.