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Free «Understanding Other Cultures» Essay Sample

American citizens, like individuals from several other nations, are making more trips to locations around the world than ever before. Some choose to settle down in foreign countries as investors or employees of national and multinational corporations or NGOs. Such interrelation of people has necessitated the demand for effective communication between persons with different cultural roots and languages (Jinsoo). For this reason, the world tends to become more and more bilingual, and as such, the knowledge of another language becomes a necessity. With the expansion of companies into newer markets, the management finds itself outsourcing expertise, a scenario that that results into interaction between people from different societies. For this reason, individuals with proficiency in foreign languages and cultures are preferred as they help in bringing the intercultural gap (Cooperative Broadcasting Association 25). Citizens of different countries are, therefore, opting to go for a second language, having a preference on one with global outreach. While English language and standards have already become international media of communication, individuals have been taking such languages as Arabic, French, and Chinese to supplement their professionalism. In this regard, it is becoming increasingly important for the American citizens to familiarize themselves with the languages and customs of the nationals of other nations.



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Importance of Communicative and Linguistic Competence

Although learning the language of a society is important, proficiency in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar does not necessarily guarantee genuine communication and interaction. Beyond the language, there is a need to identify with the cultural practices and beliefs of the people who inhabit the location of interest. People like Greg Mortenson, the author and the subject of discussion in Three Cups of Tea, endure challenges by identifying themselves with their host communities. A close analysis of Three Cups of Tea indicates that Mortenson’s character facilitated smooth relationship with the people of Korphe (Mortenson and Relin 15). For instance, according to Jonathan Foreman, Mortenson uses intuition in a manner that facilitates his last minute’s decision making. Additionally, Foreman argues that Mortenson is a habitual late comer. However, the combination of these traits has facilitated his operations in Balti as Baltistanis have been known to be vague timekeepers. Likewise, they also make their decisions based, largely, on intuition.

During our interrelationships, people are antipathetic about being ignored. Most wish to be celebrated, instead of being tolerated. Cultural awareness facilitates remembrance and honoring of sensibilities and beliefs which may not necessarily be similar to those of the individual in question.  Those that are culturally aware do not commit conversational blunders or breach good manners as they interact with people with different cultures. Building cultural awareness facilitates the building of bridges of trust, understanding and respect in a workplace as well as other locations (Cooperative Broadcasting Association 27). Therefore, such aspects would help Americans to foster productive agreements and interactions between them and people from other cultures. As such, this would be of mutual benefit as people need to live and work together, and every party falls short without each other.

Whenever an American or a visitor ignores the culture of his hosts, stereotypes develop. This is because misapprehension between leads to negative results. Recent skirmishes in France and Britain between immigrants from different cultural backgrounds can occur in America, unless the society learns to embrace the cultures and languages of others. This has been re-emphasized by the indication that the tensions resulted from inadequate cultural awareness. A much as the western societies emphasize that the rest of the world need to embrace their languages and cultures, they should take the initiative of learning about others. Such readiness to embrace one another would facilitate the finding of solutions to the underlying problems that inflict the world today. For instance, by understanding the cultural practices of the people of Korphe, Mortenson has been able to achieve his objectives in a manner that has boosted donations to Central Asia Institute (CAI), a non-profit organization that builds schools in the troubled region of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Mortenson and Relin 10).

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The ways in which people communicate vary with their cultural differences. Additionally, personal pronouns and functional word are utilized differently as cultural practices differ. Gestures, such as nodding, may have different meanings as cultures differ. As such, language learners who look for communicative competences instead of just lingual competence need to be culturally aware of the culture (Jinsoo). It is for this reason that teachers of second languages are encouraged to incorporate cultural awareness to their materials, as well as teaching methods. Culture and language are, therefore, complementary to one another as language is defined through culture which means that it is majorly a manifestation of culture. The understanding of other societies’ cultures will, therefore, facilitate competency in a language as languages are shaped by culture (Brown 57). Ultimately, such an understanding would help Americans to communicate with the rest of the societies better. This would reduce the friction that persists between the American Society and societies that are considered primitive and fertile breeding grounds for criminals.

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The importance of intercultural awareness in the process of learning a language as well as interrelating with others has been ignored all along. Individuals have been left to develop their own remedies through trial and error, especially when misunderstandings and contradictions arise in real life. Therefore, it is evident that awareness of language and culture facilitates smooth relationships between persons of different cultures as people are able to understand one another quickly and in a satisfactory manner. In the contemporary world, the need for biculturalism and bilingualism, therefore, cannot be understated (Brown 56). The underlying causes to most of the conflicts in the world are attributable to intolerance to cultural variations, a scenario that has resulted from cross-cultural ignorance. Effective interaction of cultures and languages facilitates communication, and this in effect fosters understanding between people from various parts of the world.

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