The impact of an immersion programme in Cambodia for Australian pre-service teachers
Boyd, W, Lembke, C & Scott, A 2019, 'The impact of an immersion programme in Cambodia for Australian pre-service teachers', Journal of International and Comparative Education, vol. 8, no. 1.
Australian teachers are required to teach students from diverse cultures, and pre- service teachers are reported to feel culturally unprepared. The Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan aims to increase pre-service teachers’ cultural competency by providing funding for cultural and educational experiences in the Asian-Pacific region. This paper reports on the impact a short-term cultural immersion programme in Cambodia had on the development of cultural competence for ten pre-service teachers. The programme included visits to Cambodian schools and a university, and cultural immersion activities such as Khmer lessons and visiting cultural icons. The cultural competency framework was used to analyse the impact of the programme on pre-service teachers’ cultural competence before, during, and after the programme. Findings show that the programme had a significant impact upon meaning-making as the pre-service teachers reflected upon their experiences in Cambodia. The use of focus groups was found to be powerful, supporting pre-service teachers in a safe environment to learn from each other. The article contributes to the growing interest in the effectiveness of immersion programmes in enhancing the development of cultural competency in pre-service teachers. Recommendations include evaluation of the long-term impact of such programmes on pre-service teacher cultural competence.