In this essay, I will demonstrate my understanding of intercultural communication by describing three experiences of intercultural communication. The main viewpoints discussed in the three different communication experiences are the diversity of language and culture, cultural beliefs, and the values formed by collectivism and individualism. These viewpoints not only help me to have new understanding and views on intercultural communication but also help me to strengthen my communication with others. Culture is not a fixed but a dynamic existence. Because of the intersection of race, nationality, language, belief, and so on, different cultural identities are produced (Xu 2006, p. 114). Different intercultural communication processes help me to improve my cultural identity.
Language difference is the first experience of intercultural communication in my life. A nation’s social culture has been influenced by lifestyle, values, and psychological characteristics for a long time. The cultural differences in language reflect the huge differences between Chinese and western social cultures (Hou 2011, P. 186). When I first came to Adelaide, I often made mistakes in language communication and understanding because of the grammatical differences between Chinese and Western languages. One of my most memorable experiences was that I lost my mobile phone while shopping in the rundle mall and then finally I found it. My friend said ‘Luck Dog’ to me when she knew the thing. I was angry at the moment because I thought she was abusing me. I didn’t know until later that ‘Luck Dog’ has the same meaning as ‘Fortune’ and It is a commendatory word. People from different cultural backgrounds tend to take their own country’s culture as their background. Influenced by culture, people from different ways of thinking, values, and language understanding (Hou 2011, p. 186). People know that ‘dog’ is a derogatory and abusive word in China. For example, ‘A cornered dog will lead over a wall’, ‘To rally others because of one’s master’s power and position’ and other words are ironic. My Indian classmate told me that the status of ‘dog’ in India is the same as that in China. Indians think it’s one of the most unlucky animals in the world, so people keep dogs away from weddings, altars, and sacred places. But my Australian classmates told me that dog is more commendatory in the West. Because of being in a multicultural environment, students often have differences in language communication. Language is not only a carrier of culture but also a form of intercultural communication. Different languages are derived from different cultural backgrounds of different countries, and cultural diversity leads to differences in language in intercultural communication (Pu 2012, P. 187).
In the process of intercultural communication, if language leaves the connotation of culture, it will become different (Kemmerer 2019, P. 5). When I came to Adelaide, I found that the first sentence that people usually say when they meet is ‘Hi, how are you?’ On the same occasion, Chinese people usually say, ‘Have you eaten yet’? Or ask, ‘Where are you going? ‘，’ Have you eaten？ ‘. In western countries, if you use this kind of greeting, most Westerners will think that you are a violation of their private life. These greetings don’t need people to really answer in Chinese culture. People don’t want to know what you ate or where you went in the morning. It’s just a greeting. What Westerners hold is an independent self-concept, which is relatively independent. What Westerners hold is an independent self-view, which is relatively independent. Therefore, Westerners pay attention to personal privacy and independence in communication, always starting from the standpoint of individualism and emphasizing individuality (Pu 2012, P. 188). However, Chinese people’s dependent self-concept lacks relative stability and independence. This kind of self-concept thinks that life will be meaningful only if we put ourselves in the proper social relationship. Therefore, Chinese people like to disclose their private affairs without reservation when they communicate with others. It seems that only in this way can they show sincerity in communication with others (Pu 2012, P. 188).
Language reflects the characteristics of a nation, and it contains the nation’s attitude towards outlook on life, way of life, and way of thinking. With the development of globalization and the increase of cross-cultural communication activities, the encounter of different cultures will inevitably lead to conflicts. Culture and language are inseparable. When we understand language, we must understand its corresponding culture, and when we understand a culture, we must understand the corresponding language. To avoid unnecessary misunderstanding in intercultural communication, we should not only master pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary but also understand the real meaning of language in different contexts and environments to avoid causing cultural conflicts. At the same time, we will learn to respect cultural differences and embrace cultural diversity.
The second experience of cross-cultural communication is the difference between Chinese and Western students’ classroom models. The education model in China is different from that in the West. In China, students have to raise their hands and stand up to answer questions in class. The most important thing is that students must abide by the discipline in class and not violate anything the teacher says. When I came to Australia, I found that in class we can discuss problems as we like, and teachers also encourage students to speak actively in class discussions. Different cultural backgrounds lead to the differences between Chinese and western education models. In terms of cultural development background, the Chinese nation has been deeply influenced by Confucian culture for thousands of years and has always followed the principle of ‘Honour the teacher and respect his teaching’. This idea is not only a cultural belief of most Chinese people but also a reverence for Confucian culture for thousands of years (Shao & Li 2005, P. 26). The traditional Chinese culture, with Confucianism as its core, holds that there are differences in dignity and inferiority. This strong sense of hierarchy is also reflected in China’s educational ideology, in which teachers are shaped like objects that students worship and cannot be looked down upon (Shao & Li 2005, P. 27). The concept of hierarchy and authority in Chinese education has led to the gradual erosion of students’ unique and critical thinking and has become rigid and blind. It can be said that Confucianism has influenced the national character, social psychology, and value orientation of China for thousands of years (Shao & Li 2005, P. 27). But it is this cultural belief that leads to the backward teaching mode in China. It imprisons students’ thinking ability and hinders the development of students’ personality. On the contrary, what is different from China is that what the West pursues is the educational idea of humanism. In the process of education, teachers play the role of equal communication with students (Power 1991, P. 12). This humanistic education concept mainly emphasizes the education process itself, focuses on the cultivation of students’ independent learning ability, gives them freedom, and stimulates their innovation ability (Power 1991, P. 12).
Historical background and national economy are also the reasons for this difference. The highly centralized feudal society occupies the main position in China’s five thousand-year histories. This ideology directly leads to the fact that the old habit of modern Chinese people’s obedience to authority and blind obedience to elders still exists , and the long-term autocracy of imperial power led to the unification of the teaching content of exam-oriented education in China, and the evaluation standard was the score(Yang 2012, P. 166). Coupled with China’s long-term self-sufficient small-scale peasant economy, the Chinese people’s laziness is intensified. In the process of learning, teachers tend to instill it unilaterally (Yang 2012, P. 166). However, economic activities in western countries are mainly commercial activities. Coupled with historical events such as the Renaissance, the Independence Movement, and the Industrial Revolution, freedom, democracy, and human rights have received further attention. (Power 1991, P. 10).
The historical and cultural background of the country and the historical development of the economy affect the formation and development process of the education model. In the process of this cultural exchange experience, I think intercultural is a multi-faceted exchange. In the process of communication, we can see the advantages and disadvantages of Chinese and western educational models. For different educational models, the Chinese and western should take the essence of each other and remove its dross.
‘Go Dutch’ is my third experience with intercultural communication. Once when I was checking out with my friend at Chinatown, I told her that it was my treat, but she does not like this and must insist on following ‘Go Dutch’ with me, which made me very embarrassed. At first, I was not used to ‘Go Dutch’, but after living in Australia for a long time, I think ‘Go Dutch’ is a good way to pay. But compared with the west, ‘go Dutch’ is not popular in China. Different values lead to different attitudes towards ‘Go Dutch’ between Chinese and western people. As a Chinese, we all know that very few people will pay their bills when they check out with their friends when they go out for dinner, which will embarrass both sides. China as a ceremonial state, the concept of face is the main body of social communication culture in China (Kinnison 2017, P. 33). There is an old Chinese saying: ‘a man lives a face; a tree lives a skin.’ A good face is closely related to personal identity and social status. It can make people feel a good sense of social self-worth (Croucher & Sommier & Rahmani 2015, P. 73). As a collectivist group, Chinese people pay attention to the harmony of interpersonal relationships and the role of groups in communication. A good face reflects the values characterized by group dependence. On the contrary, western culture pursues more individual independence, mainly emphasizing individual rights and values, and forming the ‘individualism’ values with ‘individual freedom’ as the core. In terms of economy, western countries advocate that individuals should enjoy the greatest opportunity to obtain legal wealth, and private ownership (Triandis 1988，p. 61).
I find that collectivism and individualism are also reflected in happiness values in cross-cultural communication. The happiness values of contemporary Chinese people usually connect the material with family. Most Chinese parents, even in my parents’ cognition, think that happiness is to earn enough money and their children study hard to get into famous universities. Obviously, the traditional concept of human relations in China leads to people’s happiness values based on blood and kinship. And inevitably linked with others, families, and collectives (Lu 2016, P. 200). To be honest, I don’t quite agree with this nepotism. I think personal happiness should belong to myself. Chinese parents have always held the concept of raising children and protecting the aged. In the cognition of Chinese parents, children are the guarantee of their later life. Parents place us at the commanding height of filial piety, which is one of the reasons that many Chinese young people are under great pressure. I think everyone is an independent individual, our happiness should not be bound by any form. On the contrary, western happiness values are more focused on the spiritual level. In the west, parents don’t interfere with their children too much. They will tell children to do what they want to do is happiness. From different values of happiness, we can see that Chinese people attach importance to family and collective, while Westerners attach importance to individual development and individual freedom; therefore, we should break our inherent values and not focus on ourselves in cross-cultural communication. In western culture, especially in Britain and the United States, people advocate the supremacy of human nature and personality; people always believe that ‘Life is dear, love is dearer. Both can be given up for freedom.’. Therefore, the values of people-oriented, emphasizing individual rights, values, and freedom occupy a dominant position in culture (Triandis 1988, P. 62). I think individualism is like an inexhaustible river running through the blood of western national culture, edifying generations of Westerners imperceptibly.
In the process of communication, we should fully consider and understand the values of the exchange objects, to avoid unnecessary disputes and communication barriers in the process of communication Obstruction.
In this essay, I describe my three cross-cultural communication experiences: language differences, differences between Chinese and Western teaching models, and values. Different communication experiences make me have a different understanding of intercultural communication. The first experience of language differences made me realize that every country has a different language system. As the main tool of cultural expression, communication, and adaptation, a language is a form of expression, which is used to maintain their local culture and acquire a new culture. Because of cultural differences, when we communicate with people from different countries, we should first understand each other’s national culture and learn to understand it in combination with context and environment. The second experience made me understand that intercultural is multi-faceted communication. In the process of communication, we learn to extract the essence from each other and to remove the dross. My third experience of intercultural communication is the difference between Chinese and Western attitudes towards ‘go Dutch’ and happiness values. To avoid unnecessary misunderstanding in intercultural communication, we should fully consider and understand the values of the exchange objects. Each of us is not only the carrier of national culture but also the disseminator of national culture. Therefore, in intercultural communication, both sides should understand each other’s national characteristics, cultural background, life customs, and other related knowledge, and treat different cultures with an objective and inclusive attitude.
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