Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Other reflections on today’s class activity?

Posted by thuicc on September 22, 2006

Below you can post any thoughts you have about today’s ‘mock’ intercultural activity.

One thing I thought of was in reaction to what Teresa and Rachel were saying about their experience trying to end the conversation. As you know from Speaking Naturally (actually, did you use that textbook in Freshman English?), preclosings are an important part of a conversation. They signal that the conversation is going to end. The “I’ll buy you lunch” series of exchanges is a kind of preclosing/closing. But Rachel didn’t know how to respond properly to that, so it made the conversation go on, rather awkwardly, it sounds.

This reminds me of something similar that happened to me a few years ago. My wife asked me to call some of her students (junior high-age kids) to give them a little practice talking to a “foreigner” on the phone. Most of the kids tried to get off the phone as quickly as possible, but one talked to me for a long time (about 20 minutes). When I wanted to get off the phone, I said to her, “Well, it’s been nice talking to you” as a preclosing. But she took it as a statement evaluating her conversation performance and responded, “Really? I was worried that my English wouldn’t be good enough….” So I had to respond by saying that her English was actually pretty good, and then she responded to that, and… Anyway, the point is that although her ability to talk in English was fine, she missed the “cultural cue” of a particular kind of preclosing.

Any other thoughts or observations about today’s activity?


4 Responses to “Other reflections on today’s class activity?”

  1. Rachel said

    I think sometimes stereotypes come from the misunderstanding of another culture. Last weekend, when watching Alice In The Wonderland on Disney channel, I found that Alice is actually experiencing different people from different cultural backgrounds. There are two characters having tea time (party) in the wood to celebrate ”Non-Birthday”! Of course, Alice doesn’t know what ”Non-Birthday Party” is at the beginning, and she also doesn’t know a taboo topic – cat, which is not supposed to be brougt up. Not until we be open-minded enough and learn to get involved in another culture can we really ENJOY them.

  2. thuicc said

    I never thought of “Alice in Wonderland” in terms of cross-cultural communication before, Rachel. Thanks for this comment!

  3. Weiting said

    I have met the same problem like-“Well, it’s been nice talking to you”
    Also, I have a question and example at the same time
    For example, some English native speakers meet each other and say “How do you do?” BUT without expecting the listener to answer it and walk away quickly. I was quite confused at the beginning, but then I started to imitate them. When I ran into my professors, I said “how do you do?” then continued my walking. But they looked shocked unlike my foreign friends. well…I was wondering maybe they get used to reply Chinese students’ “How do you do?” or what?

  4. thuicc said

    I was just telling my freshmen last week about how Americans (I don’t know about other English speakers) often say “How are you?” as a greeting and then don’t wait for much of an answer. I often say, “How’s it going?” to people but don’t wait too long. I don’t think I’d be surprised if a Chinese student said “How are you?” or “How’s it going?” to me and didn’t wait for me to tell him or her all my problems. (Of course, if the student ran away after asking, I’d probably feel a bit surprised… 😉 )

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