Intercultural Communication(简倩桢,2019级硕士)
发布时间: 2019-11-06 浏览次数: 19

A week passed since we had our first intercultural communication course. Last week, I asked several times the questions ‘Is there anyone who wants to present Chapter 4: Language and Culture?’. However, it was not until a few days ago that we finally completed our team. We have four girls and one boy: two Chinese girls, a Vietnamese girl, a Pakistani girl and a Bangladesh boy. We have discussed about the form of our presentation, but we haven’t decided yet.

Yesterday we had our second course in the same classroom. I arrived at about 13:25 and there were already several students sitting in the room. A Vietnamese student sitting in the front was talking to Alex. I joined the conversation and was surprised to find that the Vietnamese could listen and speak a little Chinese and he said he had only learnt Chinese for one year. I have a Thai classmate in the French course who speaks and understands Chinese well and he also said he only learnt Chinese for one year or so. Maybe learning Chinese is easier for Asian people than those from other continents because Asian countries share similar cultural backgrounds. Or maybe they made great efforts to learn Chinese.

The first presentation group carried the essence of intercultural communication. Their performance was astoundingly spectacular: everyone joined the presentation; the show was both instructive and amusing; and most importantly, each country has clarified some of the stereotypes that people might have on them. I asked Alex how long had they been arranging the whole play and he answered they came to an agreement after two or three meetings. Efficiency in communication is highly appreciated. Moreover, the group serves as a good example for the following groups.

Professor An. drew the concept of perception by asking students what they saw when they came in the classroom. Some said students (Jian Qianzhen), some said screen (Hu Haoqian) and some said tables and chairs (Satti). At first the class was a bit dull, but students became more active after discussing the question. We mentioned ‘the silent Chinese’ last week. For this week, although Professor An. didn’t say much about that view, Chinese students generally kept silent as last week. But as least I was following and tried to answer questions.

The most impressive part of today’s course must be the one when students from different countries introduced their own greeting styles. Nigerians were the first to present. Their customs impressed or even shocked me. There are different greeting styles in different regions among one country but one message is clearly conveyed: men dominate the country. Women seem to have low status and a mother should crouch in front of her own son. Another African country talked about their king. Should the king stand, they must crouch; should he sit, they must be on the ground. Pakistani group mentioned that almost 95% Pakistani women would cover their hair and 20% wholly cover themselves except for the eyes. These cultures maybe unheard-of or strange to us, but they are kind of like daily life for them. We might not accept these customs but the most basic and important thing is to respect them. I noticed when some said they would only get down in front of their kings or someone in power, others in the classroom requested them to demonstrate the posture. In my opinion, though the students only did so to enliven the atmosphere, it could easily escalate into a sign of insult or even violence in other places instead of the intercultural classroom. To make things worse, they might avoid presenting their cultures next time.

When asked whether they thought politeness was one of Chinese characteristics, students from some countries shook their heads. Some thought Chinese in other provinces were more polite and more friendly than in Guangzhou. Then suddenly it became a Roast towards the school. They encounter someone who was not friendly to them in Guangzhou and had an impression that Guangzhou people were not friendly. Going back to the point discussed last week, whether we can juxtapose individual behaviour and the whole country, the answer is negative, though it is hard to resist the thought: a person is an image of his country.

In the Models for the Study of Cultural Value Orientations part, when Professor An. talked about some concepts like the low-context culture and high-context culture which the class seemed to disagree. Take the two cultures as example, low-context and high-context. Low-Context Culture features in ‘overtly displays meanings through direct communication forms’ while high-context with ‘implicitly embeds meanings at different levels of the sociocultural context’. China used to be in high-context culture. But now, as Professor An. said, it is now more like in-between. People speak more directly to get to the point, which somehow shows their tendency of fast-paced life. Professor An. said nowadays young Chinese are ‘westernized’. We become more like westerners in some ways: we tend to speak overtly; we appreciate punctuality; we value individualism … I’d like to say it in another way, that is, we are now more developed. Culture is immensely influenced by economy. Economy shapes politics and culture by providing them foundation. On the contrary, politics and culture demonstrate economy. As China becomes stronger, the dynamic culture changes constantly. We act more and more like westerners, in other words, those who come from the developed countries.

I don’t have many opportunities to talk to foreign students. Break time is limited and I have a feeling that they seem to be not interested in making friends with Chinese at all. They all keep silent after class. Maybe they are too busy, or maybe they have enough Chinese friends already.


中国 广州市 大学城 华南理工大学 B1楼 广东省公共外交与跨文化传播研究基地,邮编:510006
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The Centre of Public Diplomacy and Intercultural Communication Research, Building B1,
South China University of Technology, Guangzhou University Town, Panyu District, Guangzhou, China 510006