PhD defence Esther Schat: Intercultural Literature Teaching in Foreign Languages


On 5 July, Esther Schat will defend her thesis 'Integrating Intercultural Literary Competence: An Intervention Study in Foreign Language Education'.

Intercultural literature education

Literary education is having a hard time at secondary schools, Schat notes. As a Spanish teacher at the Spinoza Lyceum in Amsterdam, however, she noticed that students can be motivated to read books in a foreign language through an intercultural approach.

According to Schat, more emphasis is needed on the integration of language and culture in current foreign language education. In her dissertation she argues that intercultural literature education offers opportunities to create a curriculum with greater depth of content, in which the subject matter of the languages is paramount and skills have an essential supporting function. 

Subject-pedagogical research

In her research, Schat focuses on the benefits of intercultural literature education. With a doctoral grant for teachers from Dudoc Alfa, she investigated how dialogical literature education can contribute to the intercultural competences of students. 

For two years she followed a group of three hundred students and, in consultation with teachers, she designed a pedagogy, a theoretical model and three series of lessons on the theme of migration.


The lesson series were conducted in fourteen classes at seven schools in the upper forms of pre-university education. Schat's research shows that through speaking and writing tasks about books with controversial themes, students not only became more proficient in the foreign language, but also learned to discuss differences in moral views and to appreciate literature in conversation with fellow students.

Schat's dissertation provides proven and practical models for teachers and examples for upcoming curricular innovations.

Start date and time
End date and time
Hybrid: online and for invited guests in the Utrecht University Hall
PhD candidate
Esther Schat
Integrating Intercultural Literary Competence: An Intervention Study in Foreign Language Education
PhD supervisor(s)
prof. dr. H.C.J. De Graaff
prof. dr. E.W. Van der Knaap