Intercultural Communication in English Courses in Asia: What Should We Teach About?

  • Don SNOW
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 24)


When intercultural communication skills are taught in foreign language courses, three high priority factors to address are (1) ethnocentrism, (2) stereotyping, and (3) ingroup bias. These factors are important to understand not only because they can bias interpretations, but also because they can potentially short-circuit the interpretation process through a mechanism known as “attribute substitution.”

Dual process views of thinking hold that the human mind has two basic thinking processes, an intuitive process often called System 1 and a reflective process called System 2. Most interpretive judgments are made rapidly and intuitively by System 1, and in its rush to make rapid interpretive judgments System 1 will often replace a relatively difficult question with one for which easier answers are more readily accessible. Ethnocentrism, stereotypes, and ingroup bias offer highly accessible substitute questions that make it easier for System 1 to make automatic, unreflective judgments.

Teaching explicitly about these factors in foreign language courses helps learners better understand how the interpretation process works and what factors affect it in intercultural encounters. Furthermore, teaching about these factors helps build learners’ conscious awareness of the interpretation process itself, which may ultimately be the most valuable contribution to their intercultural communication skills.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Language and Culture CenterDuke Kunshan UniversityKunshanPeople’s Republic of China

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