Intercultural Communication in the Classroom for Success Abroad

Apr 13, 2023
Intercultural communication in the classroom for success abroad

It’s official, classrooms of the future will be more diverse, and students will come from different cultures. Don't take our word for it; the numbers tell this story better. Globally, the number of international students grew from 2 million in 2000 to 6.3 million in 2020 (source: Immigration Data Portal). Talk with any of these 6.3 million students, and you’ll soon learn that academic success in international education depends on effective intercultural communication in the classroom.

As cultural diversity in the classroom rises, students studying abroad must learn about the art of communicating with people from different cultures. But what can you do to help your students learn about intercultural communication in the classroom before they begin studying abroad? If you are a study abroad officer looking for an answer to this question, read on. We focus on how students destined for multicultural classrooms can develop the cultural awareness required to prosper.

Developing the cultural awareness required to succeed in intercultural communication when studying abroad includes a few fundamental factors. The most important of these include a willingness to reflect on your identity and culture, get to know others, acknowledge and respect diversity, practice cultural sensitivity, and be keen to interact with people from other cultures.

Studying abroad opens opportunities to understand other cultures

The famous American author and humorist Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” For students preparing to study abroad to understand the importance of acquiring skills for communicating in cross-cultural classrooms, it's vital that they also understand how studying abroad can make them more accepting of diversity and different cultures. 

Such students must understand that studying abroad makes them better communicators and team members. This is because education in foreign countries allows them to learn new languages, look at issues from a global perspective, try new foods, meet new people with the potential of becoming lifelong friends, build resilience, develop important life skills and increase their chances within the global job marketplace. 

Developing intercultural communication in the classroom

For many students who have spent their entire lives interacting with people from the same culture as theirs, the idea of communicating in intercultural classrooms can be daunting. However, there is no need to worry because, at CulturaGo, we have put together numerous resources for cultural preparation to help these learners hit the ground running.    

Even though the focus here is cross-cultural communication in the classroom, many activities that will assist students in gaining these skills extend beyond the classroom.  Here are some of the most critical elements we emphasize for students studying in multicultural classrooms: 

  • Willingness to reflect on their identity and culture: understanding their past, cultural and social views and biases impacts behavior and how students think about and relate to others. 
  • Getting to know others and being keen to interact with people from different cultures: can be accomplished through joining a club or a college group that will allow students to meet people from different cultures. 
  • Acknowledging and respecting diversity: this involves understanding that even though people observe different religions, define their sexualities differently and come from different economic and social backgrounds, they still deserve respect. 
  • Practice cultural sensitivity: being more culturally aware involves thinking beyond ethnicity and race, asking questions to learn about others, and focusing on verbal and non-verbal behaviors. 

Importance of Intercultural Communication for the Future  

The intercultural communication skills students acquire during their study-abroad experiences will benefit them beyond their time as students, especially as they prepare to enter the job market.  Effectively collaborating with people of diverse cultural backgrounds and identities, comfortably accommodating different viewpoints, and solving problems in innovative ways by bringing people together - these are pivotal skills that can make the difference in securing a fulfilling job today, where globalization means increased chances of interacting with people from different cultures.

Prepare students for success  

It’s important to start preparing students before they leave for their study abroad destination so that by the time they arrive, they already have an idea of what to expect in terms of the educational environment and will be able to jump-start their journey toward personal development abroad. 

Aware of this, every course we have created at CulturaGo reflects our belief that we can increase cultural awareness through education, which leads learners to better understand and empathize with people from different cultures. Check out our courses page to see a range of courses you could implement in your own programs. 

As an international education officer, you can become a partner and enjoy the benefits of insights from our programs by heading over to our partner page.


Thank you for visiting the CulturaGo blog! Please find below available resources from CulturaGo.

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