Education and Languages, Language Policy

Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters

Dedicated website


What is the Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters?

The Autobiography has been developed to promote intercultural dialogue.
It is a personal document which encourages users to think about and learn from the intercultural encounters that have made a strong impression or had a long-lasting effect on them.

What is the aim of the Autobiography?

The Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters is a document for cross-curricular and general use in formal and non-formal educational contexts. It invites users to reflect critically upon their own memorable intercultural experiences, and helps them to analyse them in retrospect and in the light of the most defining aspects of each encounter.

What is an intercultural encounter?

An intercultural encounter can be an experience between people from different countries, but it can also be an experience with individuals from other cultural backgrounds in the same country - for example, from other regional, linguistic, ethnic, or religious backgrounds. Therefore, the Autobiography aims to promote respect for diversity both nationally and across borders.

How are intercultural encounters explored?

Users of the Autobiography develop understanding and competences for the future by reflecting critically on the experience.
They select and describe specific intercultural encounters in which they have taken part, analyse their experience individually and identify different aspects of their current intercultural competence by referring to:

- Attitudes: the user’s attitudes and feelings towards the whole experience, reflecting to what degree attitudes such as respect for diversity have been developed;
- Behaviour: the interpretation of another’s behaviour as well as the behavioural patterns followed by the learner in a particular intercultural experience;
- Knowledge and skills: the user’s knowledge about otherness and how people act in intercultural contact situations; the skills applied during and after the event;
- Action: the action taken by the user as a result of analysing the intercultural encounter.

This retrospective view of the intercultural encounter favours a critical analysis of the way the user acted at the time, how he or she sees the encounter now and how he or she might respond in the future.
The Autobiography therefore has the potential to promote change.

Who is the Autobiography for?

The Autobiography is for the learner, who can use it, for example:

- individually, as a way of recording, exploring and reviewing his or her intercultural experiences;
- with the help of the teacher/tutor, who can implement it with the whole class either to deal with users’ intercultural experiences in general or to analyse a particular intercultural experience undergone by users (such as a school trip);
- with the help of parents, who may wish to get involved in their children’s work.

The Autobiography is designed to be used across the curriculum in school or any other educational context contributing to lifelong learning. Intercultural experiences can be analysed within disciplines as diverse as foreign language learning, history, geography, religion, citizenship education, etc. The Autobiography can also be used as a self-evaluation and development tool.
The Autobiography is the property of the learner, who can choose what information she or he wishes to share and what she or he prefers to keep private.

How many versions of the Autobiography are there?

There are two versions:

- a version for younger learners, up to around age 11, including those who are not yet able to read and write;
- a version suitable for other users in schools and beyond.
The Autobiography is accompanied by a Facilitator’s Guide with details of the rationale, including the underlying model of intercultural competence, and specific guidelines concerning how to use and make the most of this tool.

How does the Autobiography contribute to the education programme of the Council of Europe?

The Autobiography is a document developed within a general framework of language education, education about religious diversity and education for democratic citizenship. In particular, it is a tool to foster respect for diversity, dialogue and social inclusion. With its emphasis on the critical analysis of users’ intercultural experiences, it complements other Language Policy Division tools such as the European Language Portfolio (

Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters

Intersectoral project within the Council of Europe involving: