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Improving Intercultural    Competence

Many people assume that because they know how to speak English, that when they travel to countries where English is the official language, that their communicative experiences will lack challenge.  They travel with the idea that "English is English, not matter where you are." 

If one was to travel to Australia carrying this assumption, he or she would soon realize that indeed English is not just English.  Every English speaking country holds a unique version of this "universal" language, including Australia.  Although English has existed for thousands of years, Australian language was "born" when the British arrived in Australia in 1778 (Forbis, 1972).  Australian English has become distinctively different from any model that British English could supply.  As this website displays, both the verbal and nonverbal norms of Australians are relative to Australian culture, rather then British culture.  

As researchers of intercultural communication, we should recognize that all cultures are unique.  At the same time, we should acknowledge that all languages are unique- not only because of syntactical differences, but because of the culture that lies behind them.  Language is simply a component of culture.  

The key to becoming competent intercultural communicators is to recognize that beyond our own home boundaries there lie many cultures.  And although these cultures may look similar to the cultures with which we are familiar, they are undoubtedly different. Thus, the language spoken is different from what we know.  


World View & Cultural Classification Traditions, Holidays, Folklore, Myths
Language, Values, Proverbs * Nonverbal Issues
Australian Educational System * Australian Health Care
Improving Intercultural Competence * Entertainment in Australia * Australian Sports * Bibliography * Project Team 

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E-mail questions or comments to mkfinney@depauw.edu
  January 26, 2001