Teaching English as Voluntary Tourism: Intercultural Communication and the ‘Third Space’

By Phoebe Everingham.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Volunteer tourism is a form of ethical tourism, growing rapidly in popularity. South America is increasingly becoming a popular destination for tourism generally and the market for volunteer tourism in South America is subsequently growing. Volunteer tourist organizations in South America have recognized the importance of teaching English for poverty alleviation through enabling people access to employment in the tourist industry and/or participation in the global world. To what extent are these organizations aware of the cultural impact of their programs on the host communities and how can these programs be improved to create more beneficial outcomes for both the volunteers and the community? Using TESOL (Teaching English as a Second/Other Language) as an example of volunteer tourist programs, this paper outlines a research proposal, which aims to examine whether these programs actually improve the English of the local communities in a way that enhances intercultural understanding and promotes their engagement in the global world. True cross cultural communication involves a nexus between the ‘local’ and ‘global’ where both realms must be recognized and valued. Volunteer tourism provides an opportunity to overcome the usual binaries of ‘tourist’ and ‘other.’ The concept of the post-colonial construct of the ‘third space’ is explored as a useful framework for understanding the complexities that occur through cross cultural communication—through the medium of English. The third space is theorized as site of contestation where various forms of subjectivity are possible as well as various forms of resistance. The paper argues that the third space has the potential to allow for a relationship to develop between the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ which allows for intercultural exchange and greater participation of local communities in processes of globalization.

Keywords: Volunteer Tourism, Cross Cultural Communication, TESOL, The Third Space

Global Studies Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 898.061KB).

Phoebe Everingham

PhD Student, Human Geography, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Phoebe Everingham is a PhD student at the University of Newcastle in the Human Geography department. Everingham holds an honours degree in Sociology/Anthroplogy and a masters degree in TESOL (teaching English as a second/other language). Everingham’s particular research focus is English as a global language and its effects on local cultures, in particular within the context of TESOL volunteer tourist programs.


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