‘Cultural awareness entails an understanding of how a person’s culture may inform their values, behaviour, beliefs and basic assumptions. Cultural awareness recognises that we are all shaped by our cultural background, which influences how we interpret the world around us, perceive ourselves and relate to other people. Information about specific cultural practices will help to increase your cultural knowledge by providing an overview of cultural characteristics and issues. However, it is always important to identify individual needs and preferences and remember that no individual can be reduced to a set of cultural norms’. Source: Centre for Cultural Diversity
- Be aware of your own cultural influences.
- Be aware of judging other people's behaviour and beliefs according to the standards of your own culture.
- Be aware of making assumptions about cultural influences and applying generalisations to individuals.
- Understand that the behaviour and beliefs of people within each culture can vary considerably.
- Understand that the extent to which people adopt practices of their new country and retain those from their cultural background can vary within communities, even within families.
- Understand that not all people identify with their cultural or religious background.
- Understand that culture itself is a fluid entity.
- Increase your knowledge about different cultural practices and issues through cultural background information sessions and/or resources and cultural awareness training.
- Understand the importance of appropriate communication.
Source: Centre for Cultural Diversity
Intercultural communication tips for staff
- Be an ' active listener' : be patient and friendly (be aware, that students may have to translate language and foreign concepts into terms they can understand)
- Check the student's understanding, e.g. by getting them to repeat back to you what you communicated.
- Expansive smiles by the students might indicate that he/she does not know what you're talking about, but does not want to embarrass you.
- Speak clearly and concisely. "Break down information into manageable chunks". It could be
useful to employ supplementary nonverbal information (e.g. maps, drawings).
- Speak calmly, do not raise your voice, even if you have the impression that the student has difficulties understanding.
- Avoid slang, jargon and verbal jokes. Language and humour are highly specific to each culture.
- Create an environment that is quiet, relaxed, the least distracting as possible.
- Respect the concept of "pride", so that it is left intact (based on Sadiq, 2003).
Taking it further