Critical Intercultural Communication Education: Cultural Analysis and Pedagogical Applications

Keywords: intercultural communication education, English as an international language, cultural analysis, cultural relativity, interculturality


With continuous advances in communication, technology, and increased mobility, intercultural communication competence has become an essential element to address in foreign and second language education (Kramsch, 2013, Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013). This paper proposes a pedagogical approach to intercultural language education that utilizes the students’ L1 (i.e., Persian) to facilitate cultural awareness and successful intercultural communication. A cultural analysis model is used to show how L1 cultural values contribute to politeness and speech act realization patterns and how that knowledge can be used when making sense of the pragmatics of other languages. Specifically, we place emphasis on learners’ critical awareness and appreciation of their own cultural values and language in order to be able to develop heightened sensitivity to the potential influence of cultural assumptions on communication. Our approach aligns well with the current shift towards critical pedagogy which encourages learners to be critically reflective (Kumaravadivelu, 2008) with awareness and appreciation of their own local cultural values and critical awareness of other cultures. After discussing how cultural conceptualisations of face and politeness influence the use of pragmatics and speech act realization patterns in Persian, we suggest a number of pedagogical activities to raise students’ meta-pragmatic awareness and capacity for reflecting on relationships between language use and culture.

Author Biographies

Sofia A. Koutlaki, Independent Researcher, Qatar

Sofia A. Koutlaki is an independent researcher. She has taught at the University of Tehran, Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran) and Quran and Hadith University, and carried out research at Texas A&M University Qatar. Her research interests include Persian politeness and ta’arof (ritual politeness), Persian communication, social rituals, apologies, EFL, and Classical Greek teaching.

Zohreh R. Eslami, Texas A&M University - College Station, USA / Texas A&M University - Qatar, Qatar

Zohreh Eslami is a Professor at Texas A&M University and serves as the chair of Liberal Arts Program at Texas A&M University at Qatar. She has more than 100 publications on different speech acts, including invitations, apologies, requests, and compliments, published in journals such as Intercultural Pragmatics, Journal of Pragmatics, and System. Her research interests include intercultural pragmatics and communication