English as a lingua franca (ELF) research highlights the complexity and fluidity of culture in intercultural communication through English. ELF users draw on, construct, and move between global, national, and local orientations towards cultural characterisations. Thus, the relationship between language and culture is best approached as situated and emergent. However, this has challenged previous representations of culture, particularly those centred predominantly on nation states, which are prevalent in English language teaching (ELT) practices and the associated conceptions of communicative and intercultural communicative competence. Two key questions which are then brought to the fore are: how are we to best understand such multifarious characterisations of culture in intercultural communication through ELF and what implications, if any, does this have for ELT and the teaching of culture in language teaching? In relation to the first question, this paper will discuss how complexity theory offers a framework for understanding culture as a constantly changing but nonetheless meaningful category in ELF research, whilst avoiding essentialism and reductionism. This underpins the response to the second question, whereby any formulations of intercultural competence offered as an aim in language pedagogy must also eschew these simplistic and essentialist cultural characterisations. Furthermore, the manner of simplification prevalent in approaches to culture in the ELT language classroom will be critically questioned. It will be argued that such simplification easily leads into essentialist representations of language and culture in ELT and an over representation of “Anglophone cultures.” The paper will conclude with a number of suggestions and examples for how such complex understandings of culture and language through ELF can be meaningfully incorporated into pedagogic practice.