“Culture includes people’s patterned and repetitive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, so that it is not only maintained by communication, but also often expressed through communication. Culture is a part of people, it not only affects people’s feelings for themselves and others, but also affects all things in people’s life.”(Bennett, 1989). Just because we have different habits and convention custom, we usually treat the same thing with different attitude and responds differently. Culture is not a fixed but a dynamic existence, it is by a combination of factors (including the common history, geography, environment, language, social status and beliefs) and the combination of a group of people who create and share the Values, traditions and customs, social and political relations and worldviews(Dodd 1991). And one tends to use his or her own thinking to treat others without thinking about consequence, which inevitably create misunderstanding and uncomfortable situation. This paper will study three cases to see how the misunderstanding formed and at last analyze the reasons for formation for Intercultural Communication Barriers.
Intercultural behavior can be divided into two major categories: verbal communication and nonverbal communication. Among them, the language communication behavior refers to the communication between the two sides through a common language for communication, that is, the communicator’s language skills.
Verbal Communication and Case Study
During the summer camp, students are very happy to see their teachers every day and greeting with the teacher with enthusiasm, a few boys are often around the teacher praised that: you are so beautiful. And the teacher always answered: “No, no.” The students insisted: “You look really beautiful!” . After several times, the students found the female teacher are a little embarrassed, and sometimes even frowning to escape. At the end of the camp, the teachers decided to have a goodbye lunch and wanted to do it herself. When the students came, some of them asked: ” do you need help?” The teacher replied: “I am fine” So the students sat and wait for the teacher to cook. Some dishes were served gradually, the students asked the teacher: ” Are you hungry? Should we wait for you?” The teacher has not finished cooking and said: “I am not hungry, you could eat first. Finally, when the teachers finished the meal, they have finished eating more than half of the dishes. The students said: “you must be hungry now, please have the lunch”. The students feel the teacher are unhappy to some extent at the end.
Through this case, we can find the international students are very outgoing, the students feel normal when they are trying to praise the teacher, but the teacher felt embarrassed or even inappropriate. When the teacher cooks the dinner to the students, the teacher politely declined the request of the students trying to help her, the students thought this was the teacher’s true intention and then began to eat, but the teacher thought the students don’t have manners, resulting in unhappiness in the end. There are some differences in the acceptance and use of praise in different countries . In western world, mutual praise among people in life is very common, male praising women is also very common. These “praise” language has functions of “appreciation”, “open dialogue” . Western countries are usually very open-minded and good at expressing their thoughts and feelings directly, and the one who is being praised will gladly accept the praise with appreciation and no hard feelings. In China, however, the use of praise in daily communication is not so extensive, one can praise children or the elderly in conversation. The praise is often about one’s skill and ability but not the appearance. Especially under the influence of traditional culture, the Chinese people tend to speak in a humble way, direct praise sometimes considered to be another kind of expression,like sarcasm . In addition, in the Chinese traditional ethics, direct praise from male to female is rare, it will cause misunderstanding or even feel very frivolous.
Nonverbal Communication and Case Study
In his book “Intercultural Nonverbal Communication”, Mr. Bi has divided the non-verbal communication into four categories: (1) body language, including basic posture(Such as head movements, facial movements, eye contact, arm movements, etc.) provided by the human body, such as the basic etiquette, posture, basic etiquette action (such as handshake, kissing and hugging, smile, body touch, lady priority etiquette action) (3) object language, including the modification of the skin, the cover of body odor, clothing and make-up, as well as the use of language, (4) environmental language, including spatial information (such as crowding, near body distance, territorial concept, spatial orientation, seating arrangements, etc.), time information, architectural design and the communication of information and communication between the furniture and the vehicle; Interior decoration, sound, lighting, color, marking and so on.
Once we were having a listening class, the teacher accidentally had a hiccup, she felt very embarrassing and wanted to cover it up, but a Kazakhstan students found and immediately said with a smile, said: “are you OK ? ” When saying this, he put his right hand under his neck and move it side to side just like a knife across the neck. The teacher became really furious and criticized the students: “how can you do that to a teacher?” Kazakhstan students felt innocent and puzzled.
Gesture language has rich cultural information in communication activities. The same gestures may have far-reaching different implications in different cultures. In the Kazakh culture, the action of right hand under the neck moving side to side means that one have ate a lot, and occasionally it means that one fed up with someone or have something enough. But this action in Chinese culture represents the “beheaded” criminal law, it has the implication of “dead” , this is a very threatening gesture and it is very impolite to make this gestures to others. Most of the death sentences carried out in the history of Kazakhstan were hanging, the right hand across the neck would has no such meaning.
Verbal and Non verbal communication case study
Li often play volleyball every Thursday morning until 12:30. There were several eye contact with Sohpie, because Sophie and Xiaoying were having volleyball class at that time .Li was very active on the play ground, often shout out “strike” or “my fault” and so on. He is also the main scorer in the field. Therefore, he becomes the focus of the audience from both inside and outside the field. When Li scores, Sophie sometimes applauds outside. One time, Sophie accidentally throw the ball into the playground, Li picked it up and handed it to her. Sophie smiled and said in Chinese, “Thank you!”.Li tried to grab his jacket on the hanger. There are many jacket on the hanger and Li’ s coat was in the innermost. There are so many jacket it seems like a person is hiding there. He asked a question, Who is hiding inside?” Li looked around the coat. Because no one responded, Li decided to took off all cloth and hold them to get his own. At this time, Sophie and Xiaoying run over to the hanger quickly. Li smile to Sophie, she did not respond but with a serious face. Li accidentally dropped all the coats on the ground and did not notice, Sophie frowned a little bit. Li feels a little overwhelmed when seeing Sophie’s expression, plus he still could not find his coat. He tried put all the coat back to the hanger for several times but did not succeed. Sophie then reached for help and mumble something. Li can only tell that Sophie speak French. And the voice is filled with dissatisfaction and complaints. Li becomes more panic and still could not put the cloth on the hanger. At this time, Sophie said in Chinese in a very serious and harsh tone that “ Just give it to me !” She pulled away the clothes, knit her brows and seems very angry, refused to look at Li.
This case shows both verbal and nonverbal communication. Li is an optimistic and positive person, but also very confident. However, he did not control well the degree of self-confidence and so often have wrong interpretation of the signal of others. For example, Sophie showed a friendly smile signal, Li interpreted as Sophie like him; Sophie shows a little affection to Li, while he think that Sophie like him very much; In short, Li does not have a clear sense of personal distance. So he tired to make jokes with Sophie and treat her like an old friend., it becomes presumptuous. Thus, in the end, Sophie left angrily. Li did not understand French and his English is not fluent. Coupled with the tension at that time, He is unable to accurately express his apology, he can only say more relevant words to express his attention and to please the other as well as to resolve the ambivalence.
Reasons for the Formation of Intercultural Communication Barriers
The role of culture
In the path of growth, People in different areas will be affected by different cultures, so the behaviors are tend to be with certain cultural properties. Intercultural communication is also inseparable from the impact of culture, cultural background is bound to have a certain role in the the cross-cultural communication activities. “From the reality of intercultural communication, the factors that affect the communication are embodied in three aspects: one is the value concept, which is the deep structure of cultural characteristics; the second is the national character, which is the externalization of cultural characteristics; Third, the natural environment, which is the historical reasons behind cultural characteristics. Cultural identity, which consists of race, culture, gender, age, stage of life, beliefs and values, refers to the degree of identity of one’s recognize its own culture. The cultural identity will effect how people respond. And it will not easily changed, even when communicating with people from other culture.
- Value and belief
Value is the core of culture, different values reflects cultural differences fundamentally. Hofstede said that “values” in simple terms, that is, the general behaviors tendency of individuals or groups in a certain a situation. Although values belong to the concept of ideology, people do not have the awareness of it, but it determines and guide people’s communication activities, people’s behavior and moral standards, cognitive methods, standards of life, judging basis. People living in the same area unconsciously formed the same values through communication activities in the local area, and this same concept gradually becomes into their collective unconscious and contribute to the stable and harmonious development of society. In the case of Li, he automatically thought it is OK to touch others’ cloth, while it is actually a very impolite gesture in French culture, Li even never realized it. This misunderstanding is stemmed from the difference of value and belief.
If the value is the awareness structure, then the national character can be said a kind of manifestation of the culture. “National character the attitude, behavior and psychological characteristic of a nation, is an overall value orientation.” National character has a variety of performance, the difference is often obvious , but it is not easy to summed it up in a accurate, rational way. In the first case, people from western country is often with open mind and enthusiastic, they like to praise others verbally and often do not think twice of others’ words. This character make them more outgoing and straight forward, while in cross culture communication, people with another national character may not feel comfortable and have culture crash.
Different geographical location and climate conditions affect people’s production methods, lifestyle to a large extent, it also determines the behavior of people and social norms. Such environmental differences can breed different cultural characteristics, it can be said that a region’s natural environment plays a decisive role in the formation of the region’s culture.
In intercultural communication, the parties come from different backgrounds, there will naturally be psychological distance when they interact with each other, and therefore will inevitably encounter interpersonal conflicts, cultural conflicts or communication errors and other cross-cultural communication barriers. Intercultural communication is a communication activity that crosses two or more cultural boundaries. The success and development of communicative activities depends on the commonality and sharing of communicative culture. Intercultural communication activities are likely to face this “common” and “shared” missing, there are misunderstandings, obstacles and even the potential for conflict. The only way to decrease such misunderstanding is to have culture awareness, get to know more culture, and the most importantly have a open mind when communicating with others.
 Bi Jiwan. Cross-cultural communication and second language teaching [M]. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press .2009
 Bi Jiwan. Cross-cultural non-verbal communication [M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press .2008
 Chen Yuan. Sociolinguistics [M]. Shanghai: Xuelin Press .1983
 Gu Li-line. Cross-cultural perspective of the Chinese people [M]. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press .2007
 Hu Wenzhong. Introduction to cross-cultural communication [M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press .1999
 Hu Wenzhong Gao Y Hong. Foreign language teaching and culture [M]. Changsha: Hunan Education Press .1997
 Jia Yuxin. Cross-cultural communication [M]. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press (first edition) .1997
 Lu Bisong. Introduction to Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Lecture Notes) [M]. Beijing: State Education Commission as a teacher of Chinese as a foreign language
Office of the Review Committee (Internal Information) .1996
 Liu Xun. Chinese as a second language teaching [M]. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press .2002hWW