Conditions of Use
Examining intercultural communication through a variety of lenses, the text is a broad introduction to a variety of themes including cultural identity, the language learning process, verbal and nonverbal communication styles, and cross-cultural... read more
Examining intercultural communication through a variety of lenses, the text is a broad introduction to a variety of themes including cultural identity, the language learning process, verbal and nonverbal communication styles, and cross-cultural conflict. The breadth of the coverage lends this textbook, or portions of it, to courses outside of merely communication classes in areas such as linguistics, diversity, and business.
The content presented is adequately accurate although the author appears to vacillate between promotion and critique of concepts such as Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory and the idea of “culture shock”.
The references and examples are relevant to an undergraduate audience. The studies cited include a range of dates including recent innovations in the field. The inclusion of a section considering each chapter’s theme in the context of technology-mediated communication dates the text (for example, assuming college students use Facebook).
The text is clear and generally well-written. Some of the sidebars lack important context to understand them or their connection to the chapter themes. As with many textbooks, there is a great deal of bolded vocabulary that is sometimes only briefly explained without elaboration and which does not cycle back in later chapters.
Each chapter includes objectives, two major topics each with several subtopics, a link to technology-mediated communication, and an extensive list of related resources and links with a heavy emphasis on related TED Talks. There is some lack of consistency in text formatting and in use of punctuation. The captions for illustrations need significant revision, with some being cut off and many needing captions which more clearly relate to their placement in the text. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter would benefit from captions.
The subtopics in each chapter range from one to two pages in length, and could be remixed or excerpted easily.
Because the text is a survey of many topics, the flow between chapters is necessarily disjointed but within each chapter the subtopics flow well.
On Libretext this textbook loaded very slowly but on the author’s website it was a basic and accessible interface with options to download the text as PDF, Word, or EPub format and an online tutorial including instructor videos and self-graded review sections.
No grammatical errors were noted, although some formatting inconsistencies previously discussed were present.
The author takes care to present ideas and concepts as factually and neutrally as possible. The text is geared towards a White, mainstream US culture audience and might benefit from explicitly incorporating other cultural perspectives as the starting point rather than as points of contrast.
Overall, this presents as a uniquely organized Introduction to Sociology Text. However, upon further examination, it does seem to be missing key aspects of culture – such as religion, stratification, and politics. While these aspects, as well as... read more
Overall, this presents as a uniquely organized Introduction to Sociology Text. However, upon further examination, it does seem to be missing key aspects of culture – such as religion, stratification, and politics. While these aspects, as well as others, are sprinkled in, they lack a depth that would require an instructor to use another book or two in addition to this one. For a higher level more focused course on language and culture, this text is fairly comprehensive, shy some issues noted below.
Overall, the context is accurate and does a solid job of addressing multiple cultures and providing unbiased portrayals of said cultures. I find some issue in how they defined identity. Or, more specifically, how they failed to define identity. They provide discussion of cultural identity and social identity, but only on the surface. And they do not provide a general discussion of the term as a whole. These two important parts of culture are relevant but leaves out other key aspects. For the remainder of the book, I found myself fixated on this omission and wanted to see it more fleshed out.
I think this text is solid when it comes to relevance. It utilizes current sources that can easily be swapped out. I especially liked how they included a disclaimer that some of the material they share may be outdated but is included to inspire discussion. It let me, as a reader, know that the material provided is part of an ongoing and continual dialogue both within academia and beyond.
The material is easily understood. It uses field specific language where necessary. Overall, it provides a clear understanding of nearly all relevant terms.
This text maintains consistency throughout. The pedagogy applied is unique and centered around one aspect of culture and then expanded out, relating back to that central point. While it does leave out some deeper aspects of certain parts of the cultural context, as noted above, this may be purposeful. If using it for Introduction to Sociology, just take note that additional material may be needed.
The sections of the course are easily separated into clear divisions. While they build on each other, they can stand on their own, complete with their own references and expandable material.
I am not sure about this organization. While it does follow a logical path, it wasn’t until Chapter 3 that we are even introduced to language. If the book is about language and culture – then language should be brought up first. The preface, that seemed odd coming before the table of contents, started seemingly in the middle of the story in a way that left me confused. In fact, I read it a second time before I moved on, as I wasn’t sure what it was preparing me for.
In many places the in-text offset materials and images were not laid out in a pleasing manner. In fact, some were split across pages in an unnecessary manner. In the end, this is simply a layout and design problem and should be fixable. A note – I downloaded and reviewed offline. This may have caused the distortion. However, it should be laid up in a manner to not have this happen no matter the format.
I did not notice any glaring grammatical issues. I was focused on content, so there may have been something small I missed, but it wasn’t relevant enough to warrant notice, let alone mention.
The text makes a good faith effort to be inclusive and address as many varying examples as possible.
Overall, I think this is a good text, though I think it needs a clearer path as to what its intended use is.
Table of Contents
- 1: Broadening Horizons
- 2: Building Identities
- 3: Using Language
- 4: Conversing and Relating
- 5: Communicating Nonverbally
- 6: Contextualizing Intercultural Communication
- 7: Encountering Other Cultures
About the Book
The text introduces some of the key concepts in intercultural communication as traditionally presented in (North American) courses and textbooks, namely the study of differences between cultures, as represented in the works and theories of Edward Hall and Geert Hofstede. Common to these approaches is the prominence of context, leading to a view of human interactions as dynamic and changeable, given the complexity of language and culture, as human agents interact with their environments.
About the Contributors
Robert Godwin-Jones, School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University