Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Principles of Intercultural Communication

In your initial post, discuss the principles of intercultural communication outlined by Lustig and Koester, the need for intercultural communication, and how intercultural communication can help you with your research agenda, and can help your audience to understand why you are interested in the specific research agenda.

Lusting and Koestig argue that intercultural communication is necessary to understanding the role of the developing multicultural, pluralistic society in which we live; they note that “[b]ecause of demographic, technological, economic, peace, and interpersonal concerns, intercultural competence is now more vital than ever” (3). This statement reflects the thinking that changing cultural demographics affect styles of communication, and the necessity to learn a wider range of skills when it comes to communicating effectively and clearly with a wider range of people, while acknowledging different cultural styles of communication. The mindset that culture affects communication styles reminded me of an Old English class I took as an undergrad. The professor had us translate old English texts, one of which was Beowulf. What I still remember as interesting was that the context of the word affected its translation. “Wif,” for example, didn’t necessarily mean “wife” – it could be translated as “woman.” Context matters. I understood the authors’ points that, among other things, we need to be able to translate, culturally speaking, when it comes to understanding communicative context.

Intercultural communication requires similar strategies of communication and understanding, yet there’s the need to appreciate that there are in fact cultural differences that affect communication; as Lusting and Koestig note, appreciating not only cultural differences but recognizing that there are cultural differences leads to understanding, which further leads to “competent interpersonal communication” (12). Their six characteristics of communication is an assertion that includes an examination in which effective communication relies on a shared understanding of meaning and an understanding of social contexts (12-18).

I can see how an awareness, if not an understanding, can lead to a stronger research model. For example, if I’m examining the challenges that might be faced in establishing writing centers at the secondary level, I might investigate the challenges that could be faced when establishing writing centers at the secondary level in other parts of the country, perhaps comparing seemingly disparate academic cultures. This might lead to a deeper understanding of some of the global and cultural issues facing secondary writing centers, especially when establishing secondary writing centers in schools that have a diverse student body population.

Work Cited 
Lustig, Myron W., and Jolene Koester. "Introduction to Intercultural Competence." Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn & Beacon, 2010. Print.

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