What resources can you use to learn about the communication styles of different cultures?

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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There are many resources available to learn about the communication styles of different cultures.  The globalization of technology has enabled the average person to understand complex social cues from a variety of cultures.  The resources include television, published material, interpreters, and observation.

Television is a universal commodity available almost everywhere in the world.  It is not necessarily the best method for learning communication, but it can be helpful.  Sit-coms or dramas are certainly not the ideal viewings, but even these can provide some clues on how people interact.  There are other shows that can provide a better understanding of communication methods such as the news.  The information is generally provided with limited embellishment in a simple to understand format.  This format provides a learner the opportunity to understand the basic cultural exchange of information.

A better way to learn about communication is through printed materials.  The different types of materials each have their strengths.  Newspapers provide a matter-of-fact presentation of information and often include opinion pieces that are a gold-mine for communication style.  Comics, cultural and classified sections can also provide some clues on how people interact in society.  Flyers and advertisements allow for the study of how people are enticed in the culture.  They can also introduce cultural idioms or customs to the outside observer.  Books also provide insight into cultural communication.  The wide variety of topics allows for a broad view of communications styles.  Fiction is useful for casual sentence structure and how people communicate.  Non-fiction tends to be more factual and formal in nature.

Interpreters and observation are two resources that cannot be overlooked for their importance in providing cultural communication clues.  A native speaker already understands the social cues and can pass on the information.  Observation can provide much of the same training.  Watching people's body movements can reveal communication norms such as personal space, touching, hand gestures and facial expressions.  Since much of our communicated information is received via non-verbal cues, observation can be one of the most important resources for learning.  

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