Crossing the Cultural Divide
One of my passions is cross-cultural communication. As a language teacher living in a culture that is very different from the one that I grew up in, it is something that I think about on a daily basis.
Language is deeply affected by culture in ways that few people, apart from linguists, are aware of.
Cross-cultural communication looks at how people from different cultural backgrounds communicate with each other and across cultures.
My goal in comparing and contrasting this differences is twofold. One goal is to help students of English understand the cultural differences that affect language and communication. The second goal is to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and create more successful intercultural interactions through increased understanding.
Teaching at a university that has many international students, I often talk with students struggling to understand and adapt to the new and different culture they find themselves immersed in. Having gone through this struggle myself, I empathize with their situation.
These students have chosen Korea as their home away from home and are eager to meet and get to know their Korean classmates.
Too often, they have difficulty doing this and find their circle of friends largely limited to other “foreign” students, especially those from their home country. Likewise, I have many Korean students who have studied in the United States or Canada who also remained within their own cultural communities while living abroad.
It is my hope that by developing an understanding of how culture and language intertwine, people will be able to cross the cultural divide and develop meaningful relationships.
Proceed With Caution
As we discuss culture, we must be very careful not to pass judgement. One culture is not better or worse than another. Our aim is to investigate the differences and similarities to reach mutual understanding and find common ground. It is no easy task.
It is natural to befriend people who are similar to us. And yet, in the ever-growing global environment we live and do business in, it is imperative that we attempt to understand the cultural situations we find ourselves facing if we wish to be successful cross-cultural communicators.
Steps to Bridging
Recognizing differences is the first step.
Respecting differences is the second step. This requires us to adapt our own view of the world to appreciate other views. Ours is not the only view. All views have value. It is up to us to find and appreciate the ways that a difference is positive.
Reconciling differences is the final step. What does this mean? It means blending cultures in a way that is helpful for all. Think of it as 소맥. Two things are mixed to make something even better! So맥! 소maek! Koreans are very good at this!
My constant passion for understanding Korean culture has me scouring the Internet for information. The other day, I watched an interesting video that I wanted to share. For those of you who are also living in Korea and perhaps learning to speak Korean and trying to understand Korean culture, I recommend the YouTube channel MotivateKorean by Jeremy. I find his stuff very insightful and helpful! Based on the comments of his videos, Koreans also find him insightful!
Here is what I watched: