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Teaching in the Intercultural

Classroom

Teaching Support Centre


2006
Todays session

A definition of culture
Cultural variations
A Different Place
Observations
Intercultural theory
Small group discussions about observations
Larger group discussion
Canadian students
Culture

A learned set of beliefs, values and norms that


members of a group share about what are
appropriate and inappropriate ways of thinking,
behaving and communicating.
Cultures differ in

Nonverbal communication
(gestures, use of time, space, eye contact)
Verbal Communication
(logic, silence and talk, formality)
Value orientations
power and status; relationship of individual to
society; perception of activity, relationship to
nature, gender norms
Generalizations vs. Stereotypes

A generalization: The tendency of a majority of


people in a cultural group to hold certain values
and beliefs, and to engage in certain patterns of
behavior.
NB: A cultural tendency
NB: Hypothesis to be held lightly
A stereotype: The application of a generalization
to every person in a cultural group; or,
generalizing from only a few people in a group.

Janet M. and Milton J. Bennett


Normative behaviour

Janet & Milton Bennett


A Different Place:
The Intercultural Classroom

Ming
China
Esteban
El Salvador
Simon Katia Mariko
South Africa Russia Japan
Charlie Amy Joanna
U.S.A U.S.A U.S.A
Professor
Larry Ford
USA
Communication Styles

Describe the patterns of expression and rules of


interaction that reflect the norms and values of a
culture

Janet and Milton Bennett, Intercultural Communication Institute 1993


Communication Styles

Linear Circular
Direct Indirect
Low Context High Context
Attached (Emotional) Detached
Idea Focused Person Focused
Task Focused Relationship Focused
Formal Informal
Linear vs. Circular

Circular communication
A -------------- B
around the main point
Getting to the point is
Let the story make the
important
point
Point is stated explicitly
Stating the point is
Not getting to the point seen as insulting to
is waste of time other person
Elegant, flowing
remarks
Direct vs. Indirect

Straightforward Meaning conveyed by


No beating about the bush subtle means, stories,
Directness = honesty and implication
respect for other person Indirectness = politeness
Avoiding ambiguity and respect for other
person
Frequent use of
implication
Low Context vs. High Context

The context is not The context is assumed to


assumed to be known be known
Clear explanation, precise To explain everything and
description state meaning precisely
may be insulting
Spell out everything
Leave understanding up to
Reliance of verbal other person
messages Underexplaining
Overexplaining
Attached vs. Detached

Communicating with Communication should be


feeling and emotion calm and impersonal

Subjectivity valued Objectivity valued

Sharing ones values and Emotional, expressive


feelings about issues is communication is seen as
desirable immature or biased
Idea Focused vs. Person Focused

Ideas and person holding Ideas and person not


them separate separate

Open disagreement Feelings important


acceptable Disagreement handled
Disagreement with very carefully
persons ideas not seen as Disagreement is attack on
personal attack the person
Task vs. Relationship Focus

Priority: getting the task Priority: relationships


done
Maintaining group
Peoples feelings are harmony central
secondary to this goal

No task completion at
the expense of group or
person
Formal vs. Informal

Strict rules about forms Fewer specific rules


of address,
acknowledgement of Use of first names
status

More flexibility in what


Ritualized one can say to whom
communication and how
Skills that make a difference

Mindfulness (Ting-Toomey, 1993)

Sense of Humor

Tolerance for ambiguity

Ability to make mistakes


Objectives
Help students understand the norms and
expectations in the Canadian classroom

Help Canadian students become aware of cultural


differences in reasoning and communication

Encourage integration: help international students


to adapt and communicate effectively in Canada
while maintaining connection with their home
culture
Strategies for the intercultural
classroom

Explain norms of your classroom culture


Describe your expectations
Discuss differences openly
Be open to new ways of learning
Be cautious in making attributions about student
behaviour
Strategies for the intercultural
classroom

Do an audience analysis
Where are students from?
What assumptions do they bring with
them about classroom interaction?
How do they learn best?
What makes them uncomfortable?
Refer students to workshops and courses that
help them succeed in Canadian academia:

Teaching Support Center/TATP


www.uwo.ca/tsc
Cognitive Styles

Describe how an individual interacts with his or


her environment, extracts information from it and
organizes personal knowledge and then applies
that knowledge.

Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993


Handbook of Individual Differences, Learning and Instruction
Continuum of Cognitive Styles

Differences in:

use of logic
problem solving strategies
level of abstraction
use of intuitive, hypothetical and structured
ways of knowing