Critical pedagogy, internationalisation, and a third space: cultural tensions revealed in students’ discourse

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17 Scopus citations


Set within the context of a global pursuit towards the internationalisation of higher education, this paper critically examines student discourse in a globally connected classroom between learners in the USA and Singapore. It makes salient some of the cultural assumptions and tensions that undergird students’ discourse in collaborative international exchanges. We argue that technological innovation can enhance campus internationalisation efforts by providing opportunities for groups of students to intersect and interact across cultures. Such opportunities for social connection can bring about a transformative third space wherein domestic students and their international peers can engage in meaningful and productive dialogic exchanges. However, as this analysis suggests, the mere opportunity for connection will not necessarily manifest outcomes consistent with ideals of internationalisation and may instead result in superficial exchanges and reified stereotypes. Specifically, findings from this study demonstrate several tensions in US students’ discourse, revealing ways in which they simultaneously reject and represent American identity, challenge and reify national stereotypes, and pursue open-mindedness while maintaining ‘strong convictions'. Finally, as a practical application of findings, we suggest training students to self-reflect through critical examination of their own and others’ discourse as a means for pushing beyond the superficial towards genuine cultural learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-267
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2017


  • Dialectics
  • critical discourse analysis
  • critical pedagogy
  • global classroom
  • identity
  • internationalisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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