RAISING LEARNERS’ INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN ENGLISH CLASSES
Rikkyo University (JAPAN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract: The purpose of this presentation is to introduce activities and materials concerned with raising learners’ intercultural communication skills in English classes.
Many studies have concluded that Japanese have tendencies towards high-context communication and collectivism. In their daily life, spoken or written languages frequently become less important than unspoken or unwritten languages, and nonverbal communication plays a significant role.
In the Japanese collectivism culture, people seek to preserve similarity. Most of the population in Japan does not often communicate with non-native speaker of Japanese. Due to this, it is easy for them to keep similarity in many places. One consequence of this is that learners of English may unconsciously expect non-Japanese people to communicate in the same way.
The world has been globalized, and many Japanese expatriates and students are overseas. Some Japanese companies have non-Japanese CEOs in Japan and employees are required to have high-level English communication skills. These employees are not the majority of Japanese now; however, in the future, the number of Japanese who cannot avoid learning how to communicate with non-Japanese effectively will increase.
It is necessary for Japanese people to notice the significance of the “difference.” At the same time, they should preserve their identity. They do not need to be someone else. In this presentation, I would like to introduce activities that I created for cultivating effective intercultural communication skills in English classes.
The lesson consists of three parts. The first activity is to learn “OMOIYARI.” “OMOIYARI” is a Japanese word which means caring for others. That word represents a core Japanese value of interpersonal communication. From childhood, Japanese learn the importance of caring for others through the repeated reminders of this word by parents and others. However, the meaning of “OMOIYARI” differs among Japanese. So, this activity was created to highlight these differences, showing the varying levels of “OMOIYARI.”
The second part is to analyze superficial differences in verbal and non-verbal communication styles in interaction among non-Japanese. There are various resources on the Internet. The learners use spread sheets and describe the differences. This activity enables the learners to raise their awareness of the cultural differences.
The third part is to connect the differences which learners found in the second part with Japanese culture. They find the “OMOIYARI(caring)” culture in the non-Japanese communications. To notice the differences and how to synthesize them are two important skills in intercultural communication.
Japanese “OMOIYARI(caring)” culture was used as a basis for Japanese English learners in this lesson. However, each county has different words and communication styles for caring about others. Thus, this lesson could be used for raising students’ awareness of the differences in intercultural communication in various cultural settings.
Keywords: Intercultural Communication Skills.