Recommended reading: Practice/training

Please also read the general notes on our recommended readings, on the contents of the various categories, and on the rating system. Other categories:

Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters With Cultural Difference
Author(s): Craig Storti;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (April, 1994)
  • ISBN: 1877864285

Content keywords:
  • Intercultural communication training
  • Cross-cultural values orientation
  • Mini cross-cultural dialogue case studies
Our review:

How much are our basic culture-bound values and expectations embedded in our most ordinary conversation? So much so in fact that for the most part we are mostly unaware of the many basic points of potential cultural friction and misunderstandings present in our simplest conversations.

This collection consists of 74 short dialogues between an American and someone from another culture. Though written to sensitise Americans to their own key cultural concepts (e.g. time-bound, fact-oriented, relatively flat hierarchy, individualist-oriented business culture) where they clash with other values orientations, German readers will find many dialogues to be similar to their own cross-cultural experience.

Set in typical scenarios - in social settings, on the job, in the business arena - all the dialogues are constructed in such a way that the key to what is not quite right is contained in the exchange itself. If mistakes like these were obvious, they wouldn't be such common mistakes! Therefore, the reader doesn't have to know any specifics about Arab or Japanese culture, for example, to be able to see the problems. Especially in the workplace or in the business world, such cultural clashes damage necessary relationships and cost considerable time and money to repair. The first steps taken down the road to cultural sensitivity and acquiring a knowledge base for intercultural communication skills is to figure out the breaches of cultural norms hidden in such innocent cross-cultural exchanges.

A wide range of cultures is represented by the non-Americans in the dialogues: Arab/Middle Eastern, British, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Korean, Russian, etc., and the dialogues are grouped according to typical settings such as workplace, social and business. Each section ends with detailed explanatory notes for each of the dialogues to aid study.

This books is highly recommend as not only an indispensable study tool for learners or armchair interculturalists to complement background readings; for teachers and trainers it is a rich source of materials that can be easily adapted for practice-oriented intercultural communication awareness and skills training.

Country reference:

  • U.S.A.
  • Britain, Germany, French
  • Hispanic
  • China, Japan, Korea
  • Russia
  • Arab/Middle Eastern
  • India
  • Russia
Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference * * * * *
  • exercises: short cross-cultural dialogues
  • case studies and examples: none
  • tools, checklists: the short dialogues

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: Selected Readings
Author(s): Milton Bennett;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (June, 1998)
  • ISBN: 1877864625

Content keywords:
  • basic frameworks for intercultural relations
  • theory-into-practice intercultural communication
  • cultural adaptation
  • multicultural education
  • culture shock
  • communication style
Our review:

This collection of readings is solidly based on the theory-into-practice school of teaching intercultural communication, and as such is highly recommended for both established practitioners or newcomers to the field of intercultural communication. The essays present basic concepts from a variety of perspectives which, taken together, explicate the practical aspects of international relations and present a compelling case for the training and improvement of fundamentally essential intercultural communication skills.

As any effective approach to the teaching and training of intercultural communication skills must must be founded upon, the underlying assumption of this book is that good practice must accompanied by conceptual solidity, and that good intercultural theory is that which is pragmatic and applicable. Rather than a "how to" book, the selected writings here offer perspectives on how to think productively about the problems of intercultural communication.

The presentation of the book's concepts are arranged in "developmental sequence" to generate a coherent conceptual picture rather than a mish-mash of ideas. For educators and trainers, the texts can be used as a core on which to build courses or short programmes that elaborate certain ideas or specific applications.

Managers, administrators, executives of international organisations, and students of business management will gain valuable insight into the issues of cultural diversity. They will discover not only that it is not some esoteric skill, but the basis for a constructive approach to managing diversity and providing personnel training in both domestic and international settings.

The first three articles provide conceptual overviews that draws not only on classic statements of intercultural field, but also on more recent contributions to the topic. Five articles illustrate aspects of intercultural communication processes, again including classic authors and subsequent contemporary interpretations and applications. Two case studies explore the effect on interaction of cultural differences in communication in an international context ("Interactions between North Americans and Japanese", and "Black and White Cultural Styles in Pluralistic Perspective"). The last four articles focus on the general topic of cultural adaptation ( typical problems, culture shock, cultural adaptation).

Country reference:

  • general
Readability: moderately difficult, academic

Practical application:

  • background reference * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: yes (two in essay form, see above)
  • tools, checklists : no "how to" checklists and guidelines; classic and contemporary conceptual frameworks for intercultural communication issues

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

Old World, New World: Bridging Cultural Differences : Britain, France, Germany, and the U.S
Author(s): Craig Storti;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (September, 2001)
  • ISBN: 1877864862

Content keywords:
  • Ethnic attitude - Europe
  • Ethnic attitudes - United States
  • National characteristics, cultural values orientations - European
  • National characteristics, cultural values orientations - American
  • Intercultural communication skills training
  • Mini cross-cultural dialogue case studies
Our review:

Organised and structured like his another work, Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference (reviewed above), this volume is employs deceptively simple and every-day dialogues to illustrate how culturally different Americans are from the British, Germans and French, and vice versa. Particularly as these three country together maintain both significant cultural and economic links to the U.S., a frequent risk for businesspeople and lay persons alike is to over-estimate similarities of historical cultural links. Not only does this all too frequently lead to considerable frustrations and unpleasantness, but in business terms, lost revenues, failed joint ventures, lost opportunities, or just poor working relations are a high price that is being paid by companies, organisations, and individuals.

As in the other volume, the dialogues here couple the American with a speaker from each of the other countries, and though most are business-related, they are not exclusively so. Each dialogue captures a cross-cultural "incident", an unsuccessful interaction that may not be immediately obvious to the reader, but which in fact complicates or even undermine relations between the two speakers. Very detailed analyses of each dialogue follows each section of dialogue, which addresses most of the key concepts of intercultural communication.

This text is therefore a very useable tool for both the trainer and learner of intercultural communication. While this book can be read and used on its own as an introduction to intercultural issues, especially the new student of intercultural communication is strongly advised to consult at least one of the introductory readers that are reviewed here in tandem with the dialogue analyses.

Country reference:

  • U.S.
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference * * * * *
  • exercises: yes (mini-dialogue analysis)
  • case studies and examples: yes
  • tools, checklists : no

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

Intercultural Interactions : A Practical Guide (Cross Cultural Research and Methodology)
Author(s): Kenneth Cushner;Richard W. Brislin;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc (06 October, 1995)
  • ISBN: 0803959915

Content keywords:
  • Ethnopsychology
  • Intercultural interactions
  • Social interactions
  • Bases of cultural diversity
  • Development and application of cross-cultural training materials
  • Case studies
Our review:

An excellent practical guide for both students and teachers of intercultural communication skills. The book provides a short, but precise consolidation of the process of intercultural interaction, and from there on focusses on identifying one of the most prolific tools, the case study, employed to train intercultural communication awareness and skills.

The 'culture assimilator' technique requires the trainee to read short case studies, or critical incidents, that present culture clashes between individuals from different cultural backgrounds. Trainees are typically asked to select from a range of alternative explanations for the incident. Through the process of discussing in groups, attempting to draw a conclusion or discover underlying concepts, trainees learn how and why people make judgements concerning the cause of behaviour.

The first third of the book provides a broad definition of intercultural interaction and the issues involved at the point of cultural misunderstanding (misattribution process). How the culture assimilator facilitates the development of a more sophisticated, layered understanding of cultural behaviour rounds out the introduction.

The middle section of the books contains a substantial bulk of critical incidents and their accompanying explanatory essays, which cover 18 major themes that reflect the places and situations where people are most likely to encounter difficulties (workplace, in the family, education and schooling, settling in and adjusting, socialising events, returning home, etc.).

The last third of the book looks at the application of the critical incidents for an understanding of the emotional consequences of culture clash, and provides further background for 'knowledge areas' required to respond effectively to many every day behaviours.

For especially teachers and trainers this book is a rich source of material to supplement courses or seminars, and a rare step-by-step analysis of the development and use of a typical method of training intercultural sensitivity. The authors guide the teacher and trainer through the stages of administering the 'culture assimilator' using sample incidents, and provide clear guidelines on how to construct or tailor critical incidents key to their learners' understanding of cultural concepts.

The book, both as informational background and practical skills training tool, can be used for diverse groups such as international businessmen, teachers and teacher education students, psychology professors, cross-cultural trainers, and even health care professionals. The critical incident method can be adapted along culture-specific or culture-general lines, into role-plays, to introduce a topic as a key point in understanding more complex concepts.

Country reference: global

Readability: moderately easy

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: * * * * *
  • case studies and examples: * * * * *
  • tools, checklists *
Other recommended readings:
  • Developing Intercultural Awareness: A Cross-Cultural Training Handbook, Second Edition, L. Robert Kohls and John M. Knight, Intercultural Press, ISBN 1-877-86413-7
  • Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference, Craig Storti (see review)
  • Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French and Americans, Edward T. Hall and Mildred Reed Hall (see review)

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

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