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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2019/2020

Intercultural Communication: Theory and Practice

Category 'Best Course for Career Development'
Category 'Best Course for Broadening Horizons and Diversity of Knowledge and Skills'
Area of studies: Linguistics
When: 3 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: distance learning
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus


The course bases itself upon the knowledge and skills acquired by the students in the course “English language” during their first and second years at the university. The minimal level of English is Intermediate while for deeper understanding of theoretical foundations of cross-cultural communication Upper-Intermediate level is advisable. Though there are no specific prerequisites as far as the students’ academic background is concerned, knowledge in the areas of British and American cultures, social science theory, psychology and human communication is welcome.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main goal of the course is to study the basic conceptual and practical dimensions of intercultural communication in social and business interactions, as well as its theoretical foundations at the cross-cultural level. The course explores basic psychological and cultural concepts that explain cultural differences between people. Accomplishment of this goal will contribute to the increased level of intercultural sensitivity and help develop skills necessary for the communication in multicultural environments.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • to explore the fundamental types of cultures and corresponding behaviour types
  • to analyze how cultures create the worldviews and to study the peculiarities of national verbal and non-verbal behavour
  • to explore the interaction of language and culture, as well as the role of vocabulary as a keeper of cultural information
  • to consider various types of corporate culture and intercultural conflicts in the workplace
  • to develop an understanding of intercultural communication competence
  • to learn about different communication styles and to try out different styles and techniques
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Topic 1. Introduction to intercultural communication. Intercultural communication theories and concepts: Edward Hall.
    Cross-cultural communication vs. intercultural communication. Cultural intelligence. Definitions of culture. Big “C” and little “c” cultures. Edward Hall’s contribution towards the theory of cross-cultural communication. The concept of High and Low context cultures. The role of context in communication. The main peculiarities of High-context cultures. The basic characteristics of Low-context cultures. Distinguishing features of people’s behaviour in High-context cultures. Distinguishing features of people’s behaviour in Low-context cultures. The attitude towards time in various cultures. Hall’s theory of the organization of time: monochronic vs polychronic cultures. Typical patterns of people’s behaviour in polychronic cultures. Typical patterns of people’s behaviour in monochronic cultures.
  • Topic 2. Intercultural communication theories and concepts: Geert Hofstede.
    Geert Hofstede as a pioneer in research on cross-cultural groups and organizations. “Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind”. Hofstede’s main dimensions of national cultures as means to elaborate the cultural differences or diversity between nations: Dimension 1—Power Distance Index; Dimension 2—Collectivism vs. Individualism Index; Dimension 3—Femininity vs. Masculinity Index; Dimension 4— Uncertainty Avoidance Index.
  • Topic 3. Intercultural communication theories and concepts: Richard D. Lewis.
    The role of Richard Lewis in developing cross-cultural communications theory and practice: When Cultures Collide. Managing successfully across cultures (1996). Cultural Conditioning: dependence on perception. Triangle Model of cultural differences. Classification of cultural norms into Linear-Active, Multi-Active and Re-Active. Their characteristics in various spheres of life: the use of space and time, listening habits, types of leadership, organization of society and business, etc. Some combinations of cultural norms. Intercategory comparisons. The Use of Time: Linear Time, Multi-Active Time, Cyclic Time. Time for the Chinese and the Japanese. The Validity of Time Concepts.
  • Topic 4. Cognitive aspects of cross-cultural communication
    The influence of culture on cognition. Cross-cultural differences in perception. Processing visual information. Misperceptions and illusions. The reasons why illusions work in the Western world: "Carpentered world" hypothesis. Cross-cultural differences in cognition. Experiments: Focus on individual items separate from their environment vs. attention to backgrounds and to the links between these backgrounds and the central figures. The two ways of thinking: Analytic thinking and Holistic thinking. The role of context in assessing information in some countries. Information Processing: Focus on the Relationships between Things. “Cow, Chicken, Grass” experiment. Analytic versus holistic information-processing styles.
  • Topic 5. Linguistic aspects of cross-cultural communication
    Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (the principle of linguistic relativity). Colour Language and Colour Cognition. Influence of cognition on various aspects of language (Lexicon, Semantics, Grammar). Vocabulary as a key element of ethno sociology, psychology of culture and politics. Language as a guide to culture. Word frequencies and cultures. Words with special, culture-specific meanings or conceptual categories (Freedom/ Liberty; Svoboda/ Volja). The lack of a specific linguistic label (Untranslatable Russian and English words).
  • Topic 6. Ontological and psychological aspects of cross-cultural communication
    Origins of cross-cultural differences as expressed in philosophy of Ancient Greece and China. Expressions of emotions. Notions “national character”, “national mentality” and their manifestations in popular culture. Sacred sources of national character: religion. Russian national character. British national character. American national character.
  • Topic 7. Social aspects of cross-cultural communication
    Notion “national identity”. National identity and its interconnection with national history. Cultural profiling as an assessment tool for identifying cultural styles, its value and limitations. A country profile for comparison and analysis. Language as a means to convey social meaning and information.
  • Topic 8. Nonverbal communication: Antropology of space
    Spacing mechanisms in the animal world. Territoriality and social organisation in animals. Perception of space across cultures. Distance perception : intimate , personal, social, and public distance. Proxemics in a cross-cultural context. The art of other cultures as a reflection of their perceptual worlds.
  • Topic 9. Intercultural barriers and conflicts
    Barriers to effective communication: Ethnocentrism and Stereotyping. Ethnocentrism: definition and types. Stereotypes: definition. Examples of Racial and Ethnic Stereotypes. Definition of intercultural conflict. The ways individuals approach, avoid, and manage conflicts. Face-negotiation theory. The notion of “face” as an emotional extension of the self-concept. Three types of face: self-face, other-face, mutual-face approaches. Communication strategies used in intercultural conflicts: (a) Facework; (b) Individualistic and collectivistic approaches to conflict; (c) Outcome-oriented approach and process-oriented approach.
  • Topic 10. Intercultural communication and communication styles
    The impact of culture on international business relations. Selected national communication and negotiating styles. Behavioral traits associated with Individualism and Collectivism. Vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism. Communication Consequences of Individualism-Collectivism. High-context (HC) and low-context (LC) communication. Communication Consequences of Low- and High-Context Cultural Orientations. Value orientation and its influence on communication. Postulates of basic American values vs. basic Chinese values. Direct and Indirect communication styles. Decision-Making Styles: (a) Consensus, Collaboration and Command; (b) Rational, Emotive, Intuitive.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Presentation
    Student are supposed to create presentations on the base of the course material
  • non-blocking Group project
    a group project os aimed at researching the given topic
  • non-blocking Written response / test
    the element is given in the form of written task
  • non-blocking Active participation in class discussions
    “Active participation in class discussions” presupposes that a student has displayed the knowledge of data and notions from the lectures, the correct use of terminology and the understanding of basic ideas expressed in papers offered for home reading.
  • non-blocking Business communication
    the study of business communication
  • non-blocking Written exam
    The main goal of exam assessment is threefold: (1) to control the knowledge of data and factual evidence (2) to assess the skills of critical thinking, abilities to take a new look at and interpret well known facts, intellectualize and speculate about main problems covered by the course (3) to assess the use of English.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.1 * Active participation in class discussions + 0.3 * Business communication + 0.1 * Group project + 0.08 * Presentation + 0.3 * Written exam + 0.12 * Written response / test


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Breugelmans, S. M., Chasiotis, A., & Vijver, F. J. R. van de. (2011). Fundamental Questions in Cross-Cultural Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=366256
  • Cultures and Organizations, Software of the mind. Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for survival. (2010). McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsnar&AN=edsnar.oai.library.wur.nl.wurpubs.392270
  • Hofstede, G.J. Exploring Culture: Exercises, Stories and Synthetic Cultures / Gert Jan Hofstede, Paul B. Pedersen, Geert H. Hofstede. – Yarmouth: Intercultural Press Inc, 2002. – 234 p. – ISBN 9781877864902. - Текст: электронный // DB Books 24x7 [сайт]. – URL: https://library.books24x7.com/toc.aspx?bookid=6723

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Alistair Brisbourne. (2013). Intercultural Communication: A New Approach to International Relations and Global Challenges by Houman A. Sadri and Madelyn Flammia . London : Continuum , 2011 . 317pp., £22.99, ISBN 9781441103093. Political Studies Review, (1), 101. https://doi.org/10.1111/10.1111/psr.2013.11.issue-1
  • Chen, G.-M., & Dai, X. (2014). Intercultural Communication Competence : Conceptualization and Its Development in Cultural Contexts and Interactions. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=772084
  • Ferri, G. (2018). Intercultural Communication : Critical Approaches and Future Challenges. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1709221