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Why do they not talk? Towards an understanding of students' cross-cultural encounters from an individualism/collectivism perspective


Joanna K.L. Tan 
Student Services Centre, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 
joannatan@ntu.edu.sg
 

Jonathan W.P. Goh 
National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 
jonathan.goh@nie.edu.sg

 

 

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Abstract

Many universities today are promoting cultural diversity to prepare students to be competent in intercultural communication and function effectively in an increasingly global world. The purpose of this study is to explore how and why students from different cultural backgrounds are motivated to communicate and interact with each other. It is based on the premise that a given culture prescribes how and why individuals are motivated to interact with others from different cultural backgrounds. In order to provide a holistic view that would account for the multi-faceted and subtle nuances of human behaviour in communication, a naturalistic inquiry approach was adopted to explore the communication patterns of groups of students from predominantly individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The findings indicate layers of differences in the way students relate across cultures in class as well as social environments. The implications for inter-cultural communication for educators are discussed using the individualism-collectivism dimension. 

Cross-cultural encounters, communication competence, individualism and collectivism, cultural values, ethnography

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Tan, J.K.L. and Goh, J.W.P. (2006). Why do they not talk? Towards an understanding of students' cross-cultural encounters from an individualism/collectivism perspective. International Education Journal, 7 (5), 651-667.
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