Chapter 2: Culture and Communication

Culture and communication are inseparably intertwined as “language and culture are the frameworks through which humans experience, communicate, and understand reality” (Vygostky, 1968, p.39). Culture influences our worldview, beliefs, and what we consider normal. However, as we all know from experience, many differences among cultures exist, which can often cause miscommunication and conflict. In this chapter, we will define culture and intercultural communication, explore eight ways in which cultural groups differ, discuss how a dialectical approach can be applied to intercultural communication, and address ways to improve communication competence.


Essential Questions

  • How do cultures differ? And how do those differences affect intercultural interactions?
  • How can we improve intercultural communication competence? And for what reasons?


Successful students will be able to:

  • identify the definitions of culture and intercultural communication
  • recognize 8 cultural variables
  • explain four aspects of a dialectical approach to intercultural communication
  • explain three aspects of intercultural competence

  • Sections 2.1.1, 2.3.1-2.3.6, & 2.4.3: adapted from Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies; University of Minnesota; 2016; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections: 2.2.1- 2.2.8, & 2.4.1: English at Work; EFL, 2014-2017; “The materials are Open Educational Resources. As a learner or trainer, you may download, reproduce, customize and otherwise make use of the materials. You may also amend, edit or otherwise change all original text, provided that all original copyright notices remain intact and appear on all amended versions or reproductions thereof. You may distribute the materials by any means including electronic mail or on a storage device such as a CD for the purpose of education or training. However, the materials may not be sold, leased or loaned. Any other use of the materials not defined in this agreement is subject to (the copyright holders) written approval.”
  • Sections 2.0, 2.1.0, 2.1.2, 2.2.0, 2.4.0, & 2.4.2: Interpersonal Communication Abridged Textbook (I.C.A.T.); Central New Mexico Community College; 2019; CC BY NC SA 4.0
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