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After 30 years' efforts, English teaching has won itself the leader in the education system of China. As the most influential way in teaching about cultures in English speaking country, college English teaching has to face many problems which not facing by other projects when China step into the process of globalization. However, as a phenomenon which involves teachers and students in all levels, there have been hopes and fears for it, for instance, the risks in reforms operation difficulties in the process.
In order to achieve a "balanced development" in English teaching, it is necessary to bring an intercultural introduction. Master a language is not limited to learning itself. In language learning, the culture of target language is not only an important aspect of communication competence, but also the requirement of such education. Culture factors are presenting in the back of foreign language learning, even the best students can be restricted without cultural communication ability. Therefore, college English Teaching should focus on combination of intercultural communication. We must strive to teaching the foreign culture, and also promoting our own tradition and culture in the process of learning foreign ones. Among these two aspects, the later one is often ignored. Our education should not only train students to use language to express foreign culture and things, but also use English to introduce and understand China's outstanding culture better from a different aspect. Thus, we should learn how to import intercultural; that is, making the whole language teaching process turn into the target language and native culture. The pursuit of ideal intercultural education is the remove of cultural barriers, respect for different cultures and individual differences. Meanwhile, promoting the human rights to choose life they want (Xu, 2009).
2.0 What is Communication and Social Interaction Style?
Communication and Social Interaction Style (CSIS) is a newly proposed theory in communication area by Wendi Adair, Nancy Buchan and Xiaoping Chen (2009). According to this theory, the communication itself is a complex procedure, which including the experience and other aspects in communication. Due to the different types of CSIS, the typical way for communication in different groups of people can be influenced by elements as follows.
(1) The concern on interpersonal relationships in communication process;
(2) The attention put on time in communication process;
(3) The role of space factors in communication
2.1 Concern on interpersonal relationships
It refers to whether the speakers are concern the relationship with the interlocutor in the communication, which is also the guide of the direction and content of communication process. The intercultural scholar Gudykunst ¼ˆ1983¼‰found out that in high context communication case, people would like to spend more time to get understanding of strangers, in order to figure out the method, attitude and body languages that proper in such communication. It is difficult to grasp the appropriate method of communication before all of these elements are settled. Once the situation is settled, the both sides will not bother on these questions. However, in low context communication, people are seldom interested in such details, since they can finish the communication despite the subjects or methods.
America can be taken as example as low context communication style. Generally, people from other cultures are lead longer friendships than America does, with more responsibilities to each other, which can be defined as social insurance. This is seldom found in American society.
The interpersonal relationship is also related to honor. In some cultures, the communication is served for honor. In low context style, the communication is started from protect one's own honor, while in high context ones, it starts from the honor protections of both sides ¼ˆToomey,1999¼‰
2.2 Attention put on time
Given consideration to the attention on time in communication, the classical theories includes single-aspect one and multivariate aspects one. In culture where accepts multivariate aspects, people hold very flexible attitude towards time. To visit that without reservations or temporary appointments to meeting, they feel acceptable. Sometimes, they use time in communication to express their preferences. For instance, they are likely to finish the project ahead of the schedule in order to show the importance they put on it.
On the contrast, to the countries of single-aspect culture, the time is fixed and measurable. People tend to schedule their life according to the time and feel frustrated if being interrupted in the middle of procedure. America, German and Switzerland are typical countries with such characteristics.
2.3 The role of space factors
The most obvious appearance in the role of space factors is its influence on physical distance. One can announced his/her right by defining their territory (Hall,1990). Comparing with this, other space factors are more obscure and can be sensed by other feelings. Thus, the extensive definition of space factors can include silence, countenance and body languages. Their functions can be various according to the cultures. In some low context cultures, people can not get used to silence, instead, they will try every means to fill the blanket. However, in high context ones, silence can be recognized as a way to communicate.
3.0 The definition of culture and cultural competence
According to NASW's definition, the word 'culture' refers to the integrated pattern of human behaviors which includes actions, beliefs, values, thoughts, communications, customs and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group (NASW, 2006). While cultural competence is a concept that has emerged only in recent few decades, which is directly result of information technology and guarantee people for producing, recording and disseminating culture (Wilenius,2006)
Actually, cultural competence can be examined from following dimensions. First it can be a cultural literacy. That is, the ability to acknowledge sings or words of native culture as well as those from other ones. Second, cultural competence refers to create an environment that allows the emergence of communications and understanding (Inglehart, 2000)
In this dissertation, the culture competence refers to the combination of both above, that is, the understanding of each side and the environment creating, which might be a little broader than existing theories.
4.0 The relationship among language, culture and communication competence
4.1 Relationship between language and culture
The relationship between language and culture is rooted deeply. As a matter of fact, language is used to maintain culture ties and play the vehicle of conveying culture. In this relationship, language plays dominating role as means of communication. According to Kramsch (1998), language in communication process burdens two roles in fact, one is what it means or refers to as signs, the other is through what it action in context does (Kramsch, 1998).
Jin Huikang defined this relationship as follows: language is a mirror of culture, through which we can understand culture. In another way, we can perceive culture and language as an iceberg. Thus, the language part, which is can be seen normally, is only a minor part of this iceberg. The tradition, value and ways of life which combines the culture are lying underwater. (Jin, 2003).
Linguists view languages like an instrument of thought. Faust once said that language is the primary domain of philosophy law and technology. From this point of view, one has to acknowledge whey they say, what they say and how they convey information to others, where there is a need of language.
While culture can be viewed in two parts, with visible aspects like dress, dieting habits and large chunk of invisible parts hidden below the surface including value, tradition, and experiences. Based on this iceberg, there is an argument that whether language shapes the culture or culture shapes language. Their relationship has been discussed for quite a long time. Actually, from communication view, language can be treated as a skills and culture is the circumstances to carry such skills. Without circumstance, there would be no communication at all. Meanwhile, without language, communication would be lack of contexts.
4.2 Relationship between language and intercultural communication
As a communicative tool, language is very important in many situations and takes a complementary role in helping people transfer information. Intercultural communication is an exchange process in which the understanding and integration of different cultures can be understood. The new thoughts can be obtained from the dialogue among different cultures. It is a phenomenon combined with the development of historical and cultural paces. Meanwhile, intercultural communication can also contribute to the social development.
The language is the most primitive and extensive method of communication, which reflecting the various cultures in the process of growing, changing, updating. During intercultural communication, the language can be influenced by different country and culture, as well as the connection with various other languages.
Naoki Kameda has figured out that linguistic capability and communication competence are two entirely different things (Kameda, 2001). Meanwhile, no one would need to take the western communication style in English logic superior, "but it is effective than others. If properly coordinated it with other culture, the communication style may find its way into the global cross-cultural communication".
5.0 The interpersonal relationships in the role of communication-performance
5.1 The definition of interpersonal relationship
Interpersonal relationship is a complex issue where involves employing human communication to establish, maintain and terminate. Compbell et al. (1976) found that people take interpersonal relationships as the major way to make their lives meaningful. Thus, the failure in interpersonal relationship may lead to different social problems liks social stress or family issues. According to research, sucessful communication is the key to successful interpersonal relationship (Alexander, 1973), while the better relationship can lead to deeper communicaiton.
5.2 Theories on interpersonal relationship
A. Social Penetration Theory (SPT)
Formulating by professors Altman and Taylor (1970), Social Penetration Theory describes the dynamics of relational closeness. They assumed that relationship exists in continuous phases, while in the first one people have to be familiar with the environment and share little information. Furthermore, people will want to explore the emotional exchange and slightly improve to be friendly. At last, people will achieve the phrase of stable exchange and non-language can even be used in this stage. This theory assumed that communication is a direction-oriented and open process, in which people formed their mutual closeness.
Another theory mode proposed by Altman and Taylor is the one named onion, which divided communication into two dimensions, that is, depth and breadth. Relationships is stepping from superficial to intimate, which is we called communication behaviors in daily life. According to this mode, communication is beginning from lower and wider level, where both of the speakers lead a conversation without topic or detail. On the contrast, when relationship goes to the phrase of exchange one, the conversation will carry more information and details into depth. While the last phrase, people like to change ideas about common lives, for instances, TV show, music instead of politics and religious issues.
B. Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT)
Uncertainty Reduction Theory was introduced in 1975 by Charles. R. Berger and Richard. J. Calabrese. According to this theory, interaction of strangers are separated into three stages, that is, the entry stage, the personal stage and the exit stage, while each of them includes indicators leading to disliking and liking (Berger&. Richard, 1975).
In entry stage, it is characterized by behavioral norms. The information exchanged in this stage is often common questions like: Where are you from? Or Do you have pet? With the involvement, the relationship steps into second phrase, when strangers exchange their attitudes and beliefs on something. This is often occurred after several interactions in first stage. While the third one named exit phase, refers to the strangers making decision on whether continue their relationship of not. This is mainly depends on the liking or disliking formed in early stages.
C. Relational Dialectics Theory (RDT)
This theory defines communication patterns as a result of endemic dialectical tensions, which is a result of emotional needs by people in relationship. Proposing by Baxter, and W.K Rawlins (1988), relational dialectic model owns three core tensions in any relationship. That is connectedness and separateness, certainty and uncertainty, openness and closeness.
They claimed that no relationship can exist by definition unless the parties make some sacrifice on individual autonomy. However, too much connections may destroy the relationship due to the lost of personal identity. Meanwhile, people in relationship need certain mystery to avoid dull relationship.
5.3 The interpersonal relationship in communication
Accoring to the theories concluded above, most scholars believe that the communication would be facilitate with better interpersonal relationship. Though, on the relationship between these two elements, there is no specific thoery. According to Komorita and Parks (1995), interpersonal relationship is a mix-motive action which is driving by far more issues besides communication. However, it is undiniable that communication plays the role of key variable in any interpersonal relationships.
The way of communicating guidelines and content is different in different cultures. Valley Dikangsite (Gudykunst, 1983), scholars who proceed the intercultural communication have found that people generally spend more time understanding the ins and outs of strangers in order to determine to use the right attitude methods, terminology and movement language in high-context culture. If you do not know each other, it is difficult to grasp the way of communication. Once the two sides established a relationship, they would not ask these questions, people will no longer have doubts. In low-context culture, few people will go to figure out after a stranger's bottom line with communication. Because no matter whom it is, the content and method of communication should not be significantly affected.
Hauer has described: "In general, the formation of the friendship between foreigners is much slower, more profound and longer than Americans. Friends include each other's responsibilities, and they provide each other with similar 'Community Insurance 'ordinary meaning. Such friendship is rare in the United States. "
Relationships between communications also affect the face of consciousness, simply because some communication services for the face and does not contain too much information. Pavilion map U.S. (Ting-Toomey, 1999) found that in low-context communication, culture consciousness usually concerned their own face; while in high context cultures, communication between the two sides not only consider their own face, but also taking into account each other's face.
The theory indicates that the collective-oriented individual with the closely is related to dimension. Collectivism cultures usually pay more attention to community or group norms. So the process of communication will focus on the identity and the relationship between the two sides to try to make a "decent" behavior and differentiated. On the contrary, people living in the individualism culture are mainly concerned about themselves. They may not pay more attention to the scene and the relationship between audiences (Gudykuns and Lee, 2002).
6.0 The differences of Chinese and English-speaking country's culture pattern
Lighted by Bates and Plog (1976), culture is a system which is composed by shared beliefs, values, customs, and behaviors, and artifacts that society members use to cope with their world and with one another. According to this definition, the most aspects of culture include patterns of thought, patterns of behavior, and artifacts.
According to the definition from Jia Y.Xin (1997), the thinking pattern of western nations tends to be logical and linear. While the Eastern ones are known as holistic and intuitive, meanwhile, tend to pursuit harmony of the integrity. "Westerners are known for the analysis and logical reasoning, which is linear thinking. And Asians are known for their imaginative and intuitive, which is circular thought patter" (Jia, 1997)
Thinking pattern can be the mirror of culture pattern, thus, many scholars try to compare thinking modes between west and east in order to grasp the basic rule underlined the culture. Bao.H.Nan (1992) pointed out the differences from logical perspective which reflecting in aspects as follows:
Different nations own both of these two patterns at the same time. However, the focusing point will be different due to the historical and culture reasons. For example, in traditional Chinese culture, thinking pattern is focusing on strong concrete, whereas the western culture has a strong way of thinking in abstract. These differences of emphasis and selection are rooted from their culture soil.
Meanwhile, culture patterns can be analyzed from different aspects, the following ones are those which presents major characteristics of Chinese and Western culture patterns (Liu,2003).
A. High-context culture &. Low-context culture
These two definitions have already been defined by Gudykunst (1983). Context refers to the information which surrounds an event (Hall&.Hall, 1990). Just like the thinking modes, all cultures contains characteristics related to high and low variables, however, most of them can be placed to one side. High context culture refers to one that information is already owned by the person, while the low one is just the opposite, that is, most of information is existed in explicit codes (Liu, 2003). According to his research, Asian countries like China are typical country with high context cultures, where people are in consistence of regards with their experiences or information. This is much due to the relatively fewer changes over time and the tradition and history. In high context cultures, information can be conveyed by gestures, space or even silence which can mean something in such circumstances. Compared with this, western countries are concluded as low context cultures. In those English-speaking country people is tending to compartmentalize interpersonal contacts. According to analysis of Hall ¼ˆ1990¼‰¼Œthis is mainly because the lack of common experiences in those cultures.
Thus, although most people think the communication pattern in Asia is implicit, they can still understand of each other due to the common sharing of experiences and backgrounds. And direct Western communication is due to the unawareness of surroundings and their environment.
Harris and Moran (1979) have summarized that communication misunderstanding can occur between the low and high context culture. When Chinese is looking for understanding in nonverbal communication, the English-speaking country is putting emphasis on direct information exchange.
B. Individualism &.Collectivism
Individualism is known as the most important orientation in value of English speaking countries, especially ones like United States. According to John Locke, individualism refers to that each individual is unique, special, and leads the role as the basic unit of nature.
As a matter of fact, in western cultures which put more emphasis on individualism, the communication process tends to focus on competition rather than cooperation. Different from collectivism pattern, these people show less emotional dependence on organizations or institutions. In correspondence with this culture pattern, the communication style is explicit and individual decision-making one (Goleman,1990).
While collectivism, in which the culture will put clear distinction between in-groups and out-groups. People share loyalty and trust in their communication process, and their actions are tend to be leaded by goals of organizations or groups rather than themselves. According to analysis carried by Liu (2003), collectivism is most found in Asia countries like China due to their history roots. Compared with western style, the communication in collectivism is indirect, explicit and put more concern for other people.
C. Equality&. Hierarchy
Everyone has the right to vote is the common belief in most western countries, since the culture pattern in these countries are value equity more than other ones. In English-speaking cultures, the pursuit of equity can be found in any level of relationship, whether family one or friendship ones, or even those who work like co-workers are also treated as equal (Liu,2003)
However, in relationships of Asia, especially China, who owns hundreds of years of history, the hierarchical pattern in culture is easier to be found, and every one should lead their behavior according to the social standards. Apparently, this difference between equity and hierarchy is less influential than other ones towards communication style. However, it is easy to be figured out it can put influences on the choice of strategy or politeness when people are involves in communication.
D. Assertiveness&. Interpersonal Harmony
Assertiveness may be not obvious in English-speaking countries like Australia; however, the United States is typical representatives of such communication behavior, since they are tending to be aggressive in interpersonal relationships. This is also influenced by the culture pattern of individualism. However, in eastern countries like China, interpersonal harmony is highly valued due to the reasons of history and other culture patterns.
As a consequence of this, it is easy to image that, the interpersonal relationship will be fragile between western and eastern people who do not understand culture pattern of each other, since they are likely to develop more conflicts in the communication process (Liu, 2003).
7.0 The cultivation of intercultural competence in English teaching in China
Throughout the whole analysis of intercultural competence in English teaching in China, the whole literature system is not formed systematical yet. According to the search in literature, there are only 59 articles ranged from 1993 to 2007 focusing on intercultural competence in China, which reflecting the little analysis in this category.
According to Gao (2007), intercultural communication competence refers to a successful communication ability. In recent decades, the society is in urgent need of talents with intercultural communication competence. However, the successful communication process is not only refers to fluent English, furthermore, it refers to the communication rules of other culture as well.
In general communication process, the mistakes in grammar of vocabularies are accepted if not serious. However, without the communication rule, the politeness in exchanging will be in trouble. According to Hu (2009), the mistakes in culture are sometimes more serious than ones in grammar or basic language rules which will put obstacle in communication process.
The existing English teaching procedure in china is providing students with strong ability in reading and listening as well as abilities in writing and speaking. However, the aim of foreign language teaching is cultivation of communication skills, especially intercultural ones. Generally, the communication skills are composed by grammar, social communication, and strategic competence. Among all of these compositions, the social communication is referring to ability that enable students communication under different culture circumstances with appreciate roles and targets as well as ways used to expression.
However, in the college English teaching in China, the culture education is less emphasized or only focusing on students who major in English. To the whole group of non-major ones, the position of culture is less, not to mention cross-cultural awareness training. In the history of English teaching in China, due to traditional teaching methods and the structural linguistics and psychology, language and culture are distinct from each other (Hua,2003).
Although in recent years, along with some new teaching methods, the communication approach is introduced into the process of English teaching in Chinese university, the attention is only focusing on imparting knowledge which transferring from language itself to merely the language ability. The attention put on intercultural communication is far behind the level required. Current English teaching in Chinese college is setting CET test for the target. Swapped with all kinds of examination materials, English teaching considers the pass rate of CET-4 or CET-6 as the guideline for teaching, which slip the students from cultural factors. As a consequence of this, even most students in Chinese university are considered higher level in their vocabulary or grammar, their intercultural communication skills are still standing at the junior level.
Since China has settled its position in globalization and competition in larger market, its expansion in business will require large quantity of talents who can communicate in English without any barriers. However, due to the current situation of college English teaching in China, there is still a large gap to cover between the target and the truth.
The reality in current circumstances do raise the attention of many scholars in English teaching category, however, not enough analysis have been made towards the cultivation in intercultural communication skills in college English teaching.
Thus, the context in this chapter is only providing the main structure in communication process, and the differences in Chinese and Western culture patterns, which can set as framework for the research carried by the author.