Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction

By Ingrid Piller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Overview

1.1 INTRODUCTION

I have been teaching intercultural communication courses and workshops for over a decade and have often been disappointed by the literature in the field. This is because textbooks in intercultural communication are rarely populated by anyone like myself or my students. I have lived in a number of countries for extended periods, I speak a number of languages, and I have close relationships with people whose national, linguistic and cultural backgrounds are very different from mine. The same is true of many, if not most, of the students in my classes: many are overseas students, many come from migrant backgrounds, some have grown up in different countries, some have attended international schools, many are the children of intermarried couples, or they are in such relationships themselves. My disappointment with much of the intercultural communication literature stems from the fact that people with diverse backgrounds leading linguistically and culturally diverse lives and engaging in linguistically and culturally diverse relationships, people such as myself and my students, hardly ever seem to figure in the intercultural communication literature. Part of my motivation for writing this book thus stems from the fact that I want it to be relevant to and reflective of intercultural communication in real life. Intercultural communication in real life is embedded in economic, social and cultural globalisation, transnational migration and overseas study. The main challenges of intercultural communication are the linguistic challenges of language learning, the discursive challenges of stereotyping, and the social challenges of inclusion and justice. Let me exemplify this with a case study of intercultural communication in higher education. As in many other countries, particularly in the English-speaking world, university

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