Different cultures have differences in their ways and norms of communicating. Perhaps this difference is a language (Cantonese vs. Putonghua), or politeness norms (using honorifics and surnames versus first names), or nonverbal communication (bowing as a greeting). In seeking to understand these differences, we may encounter popular explanations about communicative behavior that make generalizations about groups and see these generalizations manifested in stereotypes in advertisements, films, and news. After (briefly) examining some of these popular accounts, this course focuses on intercultural communication from a critical sociolinguistics perspective. We will try to answer questions such as ‘What are the groups or social structures associated with particular cultures?’, ‘How is culture invoked in different contexts?’, ‘Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged when culturally different ways of communicating come in to contact?’, and ‘Why?’ We will cover multiple contexts where intercultural communication has been studied, including travel, education, business, health, marketing, and romance. At the end of the course, students will complete a project of their choosing, involving fieldwork to research and analyze intercultural communication as it interests/impacts them.
- Academic and popular approaches to intercultural communication
- Culture, language, and nation
- Linguistic relativity
- Intercultural communication in business, tourism, health, and education
The course consists of two-hour interactive lectures on Wednesdays and smaller tutorial groups. You are expected to complete readings every week in preparation for the lectures.
On successfully completing the course, students will be able to:
- Develop a broad and in-depth understanding of intercultural communication and its genealogy
- Examine and appraise the differences between popular and scholarly engagements with intercultural communication
- Critically engage with academic writing on intercultural communication
- Recognize when and how culture is invoked in communication
- Conduct fieldwork in intercultural communication in an area of interest
Two in-class writing exercises 40%
Outline for comparative review essay 10%
Comparative review essay 30%
Fieldwork project 20%
Students should purchase the following class textbook at the HKU Bookstore (offered at a reduced price):
Ingrid Piller. (2017). Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Other readings will be given during the course and either made available on Moodle or freely downloadable from HKU Library E-resources.