Cross-cultural training in a language program

Tatiana Akishina, University of Southern California

In the age of globalization, we have to reconsider the contents of the cultural part of our programs and to include into it cross-cultural training.

Our language students have not only many more possibilities to travel abroad, they have much higher chances to become members or managers of international teams, work for international companies, live and work abroad. Learning language and culture (high culture as well as customs, traditions, speech etiquette) without any doubt helps them to integrate in local cultures.

Yet, when it comes to business communication and especially to business collaboration, intercultural communication style differences (Hecht, Larkey & Johnson, 1992; Kochman, 1981; Martin, Hecht & Larkey, 1994), intercultural differences in desired goal outcomes (Tracy,1991; Tracy & Coupland, 1990) and socio-cultural power imbalances in the communication context (Coupland, Nussbaum and Coupland, 1991) seriously affect the intercultural communication creating many problems for both individuals and businesses.

Thus, teaching our students intercultural expertise and behavior modification as a part of language training is necessary to prepare them as experts for international business.

The paper offers methods that train students to work in Russian culture. These methods include different forms of work with films, texts and culture assimilators, developed specifically for Russian/Ukrainian cultures. The program combines theory-based and behavior modeling training. Texts of the course are designed to provide students with the Russian cultural peculiarities important for business communication.Training allows to move them from the cognitive stage of intercultural communication skills to the autonomous stage, in which the student will be able to perform the skills quickly and without or fewer errors (Anderson, 1990).