*Intercultural Communication - SPC 4233

Course Overview:
This course is an introduction to the communication that takes place when people of different cultures interact. This course surveys differences in cultures which can create obstacles to understanding and communication and offers suggestions for dealing with these obstacles. The course is designated as a SNU General Education option in the Global Perspectives window.
General Education Learning Outcome: Effective Communication
Students can construct rational arguments based on solid evidence acquired from appropriate sources and through the use of the best available methods and can communicate those arguments clearly and concisely using sound rhetorical strategies in both speech and writing.
General Education Learning Outcome: Global Perspectives
Students are able to interpret and contextualize current events in light of historical, geographical, sociological, economic, and political contexts.

Course Materials:
Samovr, L.A., Porter, R.E., McDaniel, E.R., and Roy, CS. (2103). Communication Between Culture. (2102).Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

Course Objectives, Activities and Points:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Define the concept of culture in terms of major characteristics, structure, and development.
  • Discuss how culture shapes personal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Discuss intercultural communication roles, patterns, and verbal and nonverbal codes influence the development of relationships between individuals of different cultures.
  • Describe obstacles to effective communication between people of different cultures.
  • Describe communication skills which improve competence in intercultural communication.

Week 1

To gain intercultural communication competence, one of the first steps is to understand the concept of culture, how culture develops and the factors that influence cultural identity.  Defining culture and exploring the factors which make up cultural development will allow you to gain insight as to how you and others are impacted by cultural experiences.

The readings, lectures, videos, and discussions of this week help you formulate a definition of culture and an understanding of how personal experiences impact your communication from an intercultural communication perspective.

Week 1 Objectives 

  • Define culture as the concept is used in intercultural studies.
  • Explain the three main social institutions which form the principal deep structures of culture.
  • Define human communication.
  • Describe a standard model of the communication process.
  • Define intercultural communication.

Assessment :  

  • Get Acquainted Forum
  • Check Your Knowledge
  • My Heritage- A Cultural Autobiography
  • Week 1 Reflection

Week 2

Every culture in the world is constructed on a foundation of deep structures and fundamental assumptions which unite the people and upon which they build their society. Three key deep structure cultural institutions are the family, the state/nation, and worldview/religion.

The family is the single most important institution in any culture. You will consider the meaning of the concept “family” and learn about the family structures of several different cultures/societies. You will also learn about value orientations of individualism and collectivism as they relate to patterns of interaction within the family.

You will learn about the importance of cultural history  in the way individuals and groups view the world and interact with others. You will become familiar with the cultural history of seven different national and/or regional groups of people.

Week 2 Objectives:

  • Explain the significance of a culture’s deep structure to a people’s view of themselves and their world
  • Briefly define the three key deep-structure cultural institutions.
  • Define family. 
  • Describe various types of family structures in cultures around the world.


  • Forum Discussion: Proverbs form Around the World
  • Check Your Knowledge
  • Getting to Know Our Neighbor: A Cultural Heritage Comparison
  • Week 2 Reflection

Week 3

The focus of this week will be in learning about the concept of worldview through the exploration of religion, perception, and cultural values.

A culture’s worldview is often embodied in a religion.  In the 21st century, religion continues to play a visible role in culture. In intercultural communication, religion influences your interactions; even though, you are not communicating about religion per se.You will be introduced to the concept of perception and the way our culture shapes our experience and understanding of reality. Then you will learn about cultural values and how value systems of various cultures and nations differ. 

Week 3 Objectives:

  • Define the concept of worldview.
  • Explain the relationship between worldview and culture.
  • Identify the most influential worldviews, both religious and secular, held by people in our world today.
  • Discuss the major tenets of each of thenmost influential worldviews.
  • Explain the concept perception including the perceptual process and how people’s perceptions are shaped by their culture and affect interactions with others.
  • Explain concept of values including the role of cultural values in determining what a culture regards as acceptable morally, socially, and aesthetically.


  • Check Your Knowledge
  • Cross-Cultural Experience
  • Week 3 Reflection

Week 4

This week, you will learn about two basic types of human communication: Verbal and nonverbal communication. You will learn about the nature of language and its social and cultural functions. You will also be introduced to the practice of language interpretation and translation, and discover ways you can improve your verbal interactions with people from other cultures.

You will learn about the part nonverbal behaviors play in communication encounter and about the different types of nonverbal communication. In addition, you will come to understand the differences in the ways people from various cultures view and use time and space in their communication. You will discover ways you can improve your nonverbal communication skills.

Week 4 Objectives:

  • Define verbal communication including the role language plays in shaping our perception, experiences, and communication behaviors.
  • Discuss difficulties in intercultural communication caused by languages differences between people from different cultures.
  • Define nonverbal communication including the principal types of nonverbal communication behavior.
  • Describe common gestures that may have significantly different meanings in different cultures.
  • Define the terms chronemics and proxemics explaining the role in communication.
  • Describe examples of the differing ways people in various cultures use time and space in their communication.


  • Check Your Knowledge
  • Discussion Forum: Concepts and Questions
  • Country and Culture Essay
  • Week 4 Reflection

Week 5

This week, you will consider the issues of identity and context in intercultural communication. You will learn about the nature of cultural identity as a social construct which has profound and far-reaching influence on the way people communicate. You will also learn about ethnocentrism, stereotyping, prejudice, and racism, and the ways these factors affect the communication encounters between people of different cultures.

Week 5 Objectives

  • Define identity including ways identity is constructed.
  • Explain how cultural identity influences our expectations about our own and other’s social roles.
  • Discuss ethnocentrism, stereotyping, prejudice and racism.
  • Explain context in relation to intercultural communication.


  • Check Your Knowledge
  • Analysis of a Movie
  • Week 5 Reflection

Week 6

You will examine the concept of communicative contexts and the three common contexts (business reduction and health care) in which intercultural communication takes place. 

Week 6 Objectives

  • Explain three variables found in every communication setting and the role each plays in shaping people’s responses to their interpersonal and organizational environments.
  • Discuss intercultural Communication as it impacts business across cultures


  • Group Presentation
  • Discussion Forum- Group Presentations
  • Check Your Knowledge
  • Individual Essay over Group Presentation
  • Group Member Evaluation
  • Week 6 Reflections

Learners will earn a grade based on several aspects of the course. The final score of the course is based on a percentage of scores earned.

  • Weekly forums with discussion treads 20 points each- 80 points total
  • Weekly reflections 10 points each- 60 points total
  • Weekly Check Your Knowledge- points according to week - 100 points total
  • My Heritage- Cultural Autobiography-120 points
  • Getting to Know Our Neighbor: A Cultural Heritage Comparison- 100 points
  • Cross Cultural Experience- 120 points
  • Country and Culture Essay- 100 points
  • Movie Analysis- 130 points
  • Group Presentation- 100 points
  • Individual Essay Over Group Presentation- 70 points
  • Group Member Evaluation- 20 points                                                                  

Grading Scale based on 1000 possible points