CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION (translation + questions)

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UNIT 6
CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
WARMING UP
1. Almost everyone who studies, lives or works abroad experiences a 'culture shock'. Try to define the term.
2. Can the proficiency in a language prevent or diminish a culture shock? Why? If yes, then how?
3. What simple rules can help to avoid (prevent) misunderstanding in intercultural communication?
READING
When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Just as you will bring clothes and other personal items, you will also carry invisible 'cultural baggage'. That baggage is not as obvious as the items in your suitcases, but it will play a major role in your adaptation abroad. Cultural baggage contains the values \u200b\u200bthat are important to you and the patterns of behaviour that are customary in your culture. The more you know about your personal values \u200b\u200band how they are derived from your culture, the better prepared you will be to see and understand the cultural differences you will encounter abroad.
To newcomers, the British can seem a strange and difficult nation. To be fair, any host nation can seem strange and difficult to a newcomer in any land. We have all grown up learning strict codes of conduct, rules of behaviour and lists of what is or is not polite. However, these roles and customs are quite different from country to country and few of us are ever taught them in a systematic way. We absorb them, throughout our lives, learning what is acceptable within our own culture and discovering what is not.
Living within or alongside another culture, one is bound to make mistakes which offend, amuse or irritate members of the host culture. In the same way, newcomers can be offended, amused or irritated by the speech, behaviour or practices of the host culture. Because rules about what is polite, acceptable or expected in our own culture are not recorded in a concise form, we often do not appreciate how rigid these rules can be or how closely we follow them. When our culture's rules conflict with another culture's, we often do not realize that this is what is happening and assume that breakdowns in communication or lack of warmth are due to prejudice or unpleasantness.
Anthropologists Avruch and Black have noted that, when faced by an interaction that we do not understand, people tend to interpret the others involved as 'abnormal', 'weird', or 'wrong'. This tendency, if indulged, gives rise on the individual level to prejudice. If this propensity is either consciously or unconsciously integrated into organizational structures, then prejudice takes root in our institutions - in the structures, laws, policies, and procedures that shape our lives. Consequently, it is vital that we learn to control the human tendency to translate 'different from me' into 'less than me'. We can learn to do this.
We can also learn to collaborate across cultural lines as individuals and as a society. Awareness of cultural differences does not have to divide us from each other. It does not have to paralyze us cither, for fear of not saying the 'right thing'. In fact, becoming more aware of our cultural differences, as well as exploring our similarities, can help us to communicate with each other more effectively. Recognizing where cultural differences arc at work is the first step toward understanding and respecting each other.
Learning about different ways that people communicate can enrich our lives. People's different communication styles reflect deeper philosophies and world views which are the foundation of their culture. Understanding these deeper philosophies gives us a broader picture of what the world has to offer us.
Learning about people's cultures has the potential to give us a mirror image of our own. We have the opportunity to challenge our assumptions about the 'right' way of doing things, and consider a variety of approaches. We have a chance to learn new

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Lastly, if we are open to learning about people from other cultures, we become less lonely. Prejudice and stereotypes separate us from whole groups of people who could be friends and partners in working for change. Many of us long for real contact. Talking with people different from ourselves gives us hope and energizes us to take on the challenge of improving our communities and worlds.
(From English Home №4, April 2007 and http://www.pbs.org)

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