Communication Barriers

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Eliminating Barriers to Cross-Cultural Communication through Curricular Interventions


David Dankwa-Apawu (Lecturer) Ghana Institute of Journalism P.O. Box GP 667 Accra, Ghana +233208704133 +233302228336


ABSTRACT With the world fast becoming a global village, communicating across cultures has become an inevitable reality. On one hand, cross-cultural communication or intercultural communication presents a fine opportunity to foster global peace and prosperity as we mine the potential value of cultural diversity. On the other hand, it can present unpleasant consequences if not well managed. The latter seems more prevalent in our world today as a result of the barriers cultural diversity imposes on intercultural communication. Intercultural or cross-cultural

communication barriers such as anxiety, uncertainty, stereotyping, and ethnocentrism are caused by inadequate cultural knowledge and the lack of intercultural communicative skills. Eliminating these barriers will require adequate training in intercultural communication and exposure to cultures outside ours. The school provides the best motivation, structures, and resources for training or socializing our younger generation therefore this paper proposes a number of curricular interventions the school can implement to equip learners to overcome intercultural communication barriers. These interventions include the adoption of multicultural education in our schools, the introduction of literature and cultural studies as subjects, the use of communicative language teaching approach in teaching language, and the use of the new media in the classroom. The justification (for these interventions) presented in this paper is drawn mainly from published accounts and exploratory ethnographic studies.

INTRODUCTION Intercultural communication or cross-cultural communication is a relatively new field of study, yet it has generated a lot of interest. Research in this area has been diverse yet interdisciplinary, making it possible to link intercultural communication to a broad spectrum of disciplines such business, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and psychology. Studies in intercultural


communication gained prominence after efforts by anthropologists and linguists like Hall and Lado to link language, culture, and communication (Kramsch, 2001). Initial research in the area focused on developing guidelines or principles for training people who were engaged in multinational businesses, international diplomacy, and missionary activities (Kramsch, 2001).

Today, however, many new grounds, in terms of research approaches, have been broken, and more and more theories have been developed to deepen our understanding of intergroup communication. For instance, through various studies it has been possible to distinguish between intercultural and cross-cultural communication, with the former focussing on face-to-face communication between people of different national cultures while the latter involves the comparison of face-to-face communication across cultures (Gudykunst and Mody, 2001). But these two areas are two sides of a coin, and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably (Kramsch, 2001).

More than the pioneering work of early researchers, global dynamics have remarkably made the field of cross-cultural or intercultural communication attractive. Today there is rapid internationalization of every institution and system in our world: school, religion, business, governance, and so on. This rapid globalisation, being fuelled by unprecedented technological advancement in transport and telecommunication, means people of different cultural backgrounds are increasingly getting close to one another to maximise the value cultural diversity offers. But as we get face-to-face with people of different cultural backgrounds the challenge of dealing with our cultural differences and harnessing the potential benefits of cultural diversity...
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