Intercultural Miscommunication: Impact on ESOL Students and Implications for ESOL Teachers

By Huang, Jinyan; Dotterweich, Erin et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Intercultural Miscommunication: Impact on ESOL Students and Implications for ESOL Teachers


Huang, Jinyan, Dotterweich, Erin, Bowers, Ashleigh, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Intercultural miscommunication occurs when there is a breakdown in communication between speakers of two different cultures and languages due to cultural differences and/or sociolinguistic transfer. Intercultural miscommunication has tremendous impact on ESOL students' academic learning at North American schools. This paper examines the nature of intercultural communication, the causes of intercultural miscommunication, and its impact on ESOL students. It also suggests instructional implications for teachers to help their ESOL students avoid being misunderstood by their North American peers and teachers.

**********

The number of English-to-speakers-of-other-languages (ESOL) students has more than doubled since 1980s and has recently grown significantly at North American schools (Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2010; U.S. Department of Education, 2008). Research in both second language education and English for Academic Purposes (EAP) has begun to show that ESOL students' insufficient English language proficiency, coupled with their unfamiliarity with the North American culture has prevented them from communicating effectively with North Americans in their cross-cultural learning (Bontrager, Birch, & Kracht, 1990; Huang, 2005; Huang & Foote, 2010; Huang & Kathleen, 2009; Huang & Klinger, 2006; Huang & Rinaldo, 2009; Leung & Berry, 2001). The questions of what is the nature of intercultural communication, why intercultural miscommunication occurs, how it impacts ESOL students, and what ESOL teachers can do to help avoid intercultural miscommunications in the classroom merit closer examination.

This paper first describes the relationship between culture and language. It then discusses the nature of intercultural communication. Following that, it examines the causes of intercultural miscommunication and its impact on ESOL students. It finally suggests instructional implications for ESOL teachers.

Culture and Language

There is a very close relationship between culture and language. Culture plays an immeasurable role in language use because it encompasses the way a language is structured and used (Liddicoat, 2008). Kuo and Lai (2006) believe that "culture not only changes people's values and habits, but also affects people's language and behavior" (p. 5). Further, they indicate that a language adapts to the current culture by the introduction of new vocabulary through "pop culture" and the development of slang words in the passage of time.

Specifically in relation to language, culture is not just a marginal part of language; but rather has a central relationship with language (Chang, 2002; Crago, Eriks-Brophy, Pesco & McAlpine, 1997; Liddicoat, 2009). Communication is the use of a culturally based code in a culturally shaped context to develop and understand a culturally shaped meaning (Liddicoat, 2009). This view relays the message that culture is not simply a factor in the communication system affecting the competence and success of communication, but rather the central component of the communication system. It is difficult to see the culture embedded in a language when intracultural communication is taking place because values, beliefs, and topics are shared. However, the study of intercultural communication leads researchers to find that each lexical and grammatical item of a language has a cultural background within this item and this idea is very broad and complex (Liddicoat, 2009).

Intercultural Communication

Many early second language acquisition studies were based on the accuracy of language use that focused on the phonological, lexical and grammatical systems of a language. However, second language instruction and learning began to shift the focus to communicative competence or the sociocultural rules of speaking that focuses on using language appropriately (Chang, 2009). In other words, learners need to focus on when to speak, in what matter to speak and to whom, all skills that can be difficult to master when transferring sociocultural rules from their first language.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Intercultural Miscommunication: Impact on ESOL Students and Implications for ESOL Teachers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.