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Intercultural communication in the new era

Third Annual Language and Society Centre Lecture

Presented in 2010 by Professor Farzad Sharifian, Director, Language and Society Centre, Monash University

Video of the Lecture

All files are in Windows Media format (.wmv)


Studies of intercultural communication gathered momentum in applied linguistics during the 1980s. The bulk of such studies focused on miscommunication, mainly between native and non-native speakers of English. The contexts for studies of intercultural communication were generally places such as workplace and business meetings. Most studies focused on face-to-face interactions, but some investigated telephone conversations.

The advent of the 21st century has witnessed almost a revolution in contexts and contents of intercultural communication. Technological advances such as the Internet and mobile phone on the one hand and people’s mobility across the borders around the globe have given a new meaning to the word ‘intercultural communication’. In our globalized era, we don’t need to step outside our houses to engage in intercultural communication. The contexts of intercultural communication now include chat rooms, emails, blogs, Skype, Facebook, twitter, text messaging, etc. For many people across the globe, intercultural communication is now a default context of communication in their everyday life, especially in multicultural contexts such as Australia.

The remarkable growth in the prevalence of intercultural communication among people from many cultural backgrounds, and across many contexts and channels has made conceptual divides such as ‘native/non-native’ almost irrelevant. For example, in electronic intercultural communication, in many cases the person who is more expert in the use of technology now occupies the place of power during the communication process. It is such knowledge, rather than being native to the language used, that is crucial.

The changes that have characterised the nature and the scope of intercultural communication have entailed the development of new approaches to the studies of intercultural communication. Monash University began pioneering studies of intercultural communication in 1980s and continues to be a significant hub for recent approaches in the study of intercultural communication. This public talk provides an overview of studies of intercultural communication in the last few decades and presents an account of the current status of the field.

About Farzad Sharifian

Professor Farzad Sharifian is the Director of the Language and Society Centre and Convenor of the program of English as an International Language at Monash University.

He is the author of the forthcoming book Language and Cultural Conceptualizations: Theoretical Framework and Applications (John Benjamins). He is also the editor (with Gary B. Palmer) of Applied Cultural Linguistics (2007, John Benjamins), the editor (with René Dirven, Ning Yu and Susanne Niemeier) of Culture, Body and Language (2008, Mouton de Gruyter) and the editor of English as an International Language (2009, Multilingual Matters).

His publications also include more than 50 book chapters and articles published in journals such as Language Sciences, Journal of Pragmatics, Anthropological Linguistics, World Englishes, Language and Intercultural Communication, Journal of Politeness Research, Discourse Studies, Journal of Cognition and Culture, and Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. He is the winner of multiple awards for his research including Edith Cowan University Research Medal and Early Career Researcher of the Year, Faculty of Arts, Monash University.

Download the information on this page in pdf format.