Unit 1: Introduction

about this tutorial...

This is one in a series of tutorials on intercultural communication. Anticipated completion time for this tutorial: approximately 100 minutes. If you are completing this tutorial for a course, your score on the included exercises will be recorded. Note that you can stop and come back and your score on completed items will be retained.

Learning Objectives

dolphines_espanol.png The objectives below can be achieved through working with the readings, presentations, and tutorial exercise
By successfully completing this unit, students should be able to

  • List/discuss the benefits of intercultural communication
  • Recognize increasing racial and ethnic diversity
  • Discuss the role of technology in communication
  • Discuss intercultural communication as a discipline
  • Know about cultural taxomonies and their limits
  • Identify/discuss the different contexts in which intercultural communication takes place

Key Concepts for this unit


Key concepts (PDF format)

OPENER: Turkish-German Rap

First, watch the video (about 2 minutes long) below (YouTube version)

After watching the video, think about the following:

  1. How much could you understand?
  2. What culture(s) are represented?
  3. What forms of communication are used?
  4. What group of people is represented in the video?
  5. How are those outside this group likely to react to it?

Now, turn to the next page for some comments.

OPENER: Comments and Analysis

1. How much could you understand?

Probably not much, I would assume. It's mostly in Turkish, but also some in German. Going back and forth between languages is known as "code-switching".

2. What culture(s) are represented?

Turkish-German youth culture. There is a sizable population of Turkish immigrants living in Germany. The U.S. is becoming more diverse demographically, but it's by no means alone in that trend. How these young men would describe their cultural identity might be complex - maybe a mixture of youth culture (lots of similarities world-wide in dress, music style, on-line social networking), traditional Turkish culture (language, probably religion, family values) and some aspects of mainstream German culture (language, schooling, restaurant/business etiquette).

3. What group of people is represented in the video?

Young Turkish-Germans, mostly (all?) men. That may be in part a reflection of hip-hop culture, but it could be related to a different conception of appropriate public roles for women in Islamic communities. This subset of the larger microculture of Turkish immigrants to Germany is characterized by its language use, dress and hair style, and affinity to world youth culture.

4. What forms of communication are used?

Not just words and music. Lots of facial expressions and gestures. The non-verbal langauge works in conjunction with the text and music to convey the intended message and attitude. In fact, in this video more may be transmitted on the non-verbal side than through the words that are sung or spoken.

5. How are others outside this group likely to react to this music?

Rap music is popular world-wide, but mostly among young people. Most likely, older people, whether German or Turkish, would not be wild about this kind of music video. Nor would older members of the Turkish-German microculture identify with other cultural aspects of these young Turkish-German men such as their non-verbal language, appearance, or relationship to the main-stream German culture.

What's the point of this unit's opener?

It's intended to illustrate the fact that the cultural identity of individuals and groups is often complex and multi-faceted. In this course we will be engaged in some broad-stroke characterization of cultures and how they differ. This can be helpful in gaining insight into the diverse ways human societies see the world and interact with people. However, we should keep in mind that these are generalizations and can be misleading in characterizing individual representatives of a given culture. Could the young men in the video simply and accurately be described as "Germans" or even as "Turkish-Germans"? Their cultural identities are complex and may change in different contexts. At home in their families, for example, they would likely act and appear quite differently than when out with their friends. The same is true at school or at work.

Chapter text in PDF format (for downloading or printing)

PRESENTATION: Intercultural Comunication Today


View YouTube version | View/print lecture outline (PDF)




  Statistics on world demographics

  Cultural dimensions and history of intercultural communication

  On broadening horizons and media

  Technology and the filter bubble

How we evaluate countries


After working through this tutorial, do the following exercises. Click on links to display questions. As these are learning activities, you may re-do each and improve your score. If you are completing this tutorial in a course environment, you should click on the "finish" button on the bottom of the page to submit your score.

 Q1: Effective communicaiton across cultures 

 Q2: Benefits of intercultural communication 

 Q3: Demographic Trends 

 Q4: Technology Trends 

 Q5: Intercultural communication in context 

 Q6: Caveats of using cultural taxonomies 

Q7: Some human behaviors are determined by our cultural environment. Others are universal human activities. Still others are determined by personal choice. For the behaviors listed in the sorting activity below, describe whether are cultural, universal or personal.  

Q8: Definition of culture