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Internationalising teacher education at home: developing empathy through the sense of otherness in language learning

Li, Huaping; Costa, Critisna


Huaping Li


This study explored how Chinese and Scottish student-teachers from two case-study universities perceived their experiences in foreign language learning in both formal and informal contexts within their home countries, and how the status of a foreign language learner shaped their empathy for culturally and linguistically diverse pupils through a qualitative questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. Drawing on transformative learning theory and its relation to empathy, this study provides a nuanced understanding of how the experience of a language other allows student-teachers to engage with otherness, experience affective sharing, adopt alternative perspectives, and demonstrate empathetic concerns in practices where cultural diversity is apparent. Therefore, we advocate moving student-teachers beyond language acquisition, encouraging them to embrace challenges associated with assuming the position of a language other. This lends insights into the promotion of foreign language learning as a viable internationalisation strategy that benefits all student-teachers by fostering their empathy towards diverse students.


Li, H., & Costa, C. (2023). Internationalising teacher education at home: developing empathy through the sense of otherness in language learning. European Journal of Teacher Education, 1-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 10, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 18, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Sep 19, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 19, 2025
Journal European Journal of Teacher Education
Print ISSN 0261-9768
Electronic ISSN 1469-5928
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-19
Keywords Education; Internationalisation; teacher education; otherness; empathy
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2023-02-04; Accepted: 2023-09-10; Published: 2023-09-18