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Language Across Cultures

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on 4 February 2014

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Transcript of Language Across Cultures

By: Sagana Rajasingham
Intercultural Language: Competence, Awareness & Communication
Group Discussion
Any additional questions or comments?
Body Language: Gestures, Facial Expression and Head Movement
Lit Review: Cross-Cultural Variation of Speech-Accompanying Gesture:
Sotaro Kita

How Chinese and American Mothers Communicate With Deaf and
Hearing Children
Susan Goldin-Meadow and Jody Saltzman

Article #1: Separated by a Common Language:
Abigail Marsh, Hilary Elfenbein, & Nalini Ambady

Article #2Head movements in the context of speech in Arabic, Bulgarian,
Korean, and African-American Vernacular English:
Evelyn McClave, Helen Kim, Rita Tamer, & Milo Mileff
Nonverbal communication is such an important part of daily life
-It helps us to communicate during language barriers

However, it can also cause a lot of different problems

Not every culture around the world has the same gestures, facial expressions or head movements, and meanings can be completely different

Multiple forms of body language: gestures, facial expressions, head movements
What does this symbol mean to you?
Not every culture
has the same
Lit Review
This current study looks to identify and realize that gestures vary across cultures and can be dependent on:
-the verbal cues
-spatial cues
-density of a population

However for the purpose of this study I will focus on culture specific gestures and body language cues
-while I will discuss some verbal cues as they help us to decide what gesture to use
Lit Review
Findings found that there are similar gestures throughout the world, but they change in meaning

It was also found that how a person spoke also impacted their gestures

It was also found that listeners nod in order to convey understanding
Article #1
Lit Review Discussion
How many of you have traveled to a different part of the world?
-Did you notice different gestures?
-Did you notice how gestures helped you communicate?
-Or for others to communicate with you?

-OK symbol
-Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia, Southern & Central Spain, and Southern Italy that is means OK
-France is means zero
-Greece and Turkey it means the anus

-As you can see, this would obviously create issues and possibly offend people
Facial expressions are a key factor in nonverbal cues/body language

Facial expressions can also help us identify a person of a different culture, according to research

These expressions are often considered universal in the world of nonverbal language

This study wanted to see if there was a difference between cultures in recognizing facial expressions

This study takes a unique approach by using Americans and Australians
-Both are Caucasian; however, the geographical location makes the cultures very different

We tend to gravitate to people who have similar facial expressions to what we are used to identifying

The Study Method
What Does This Mean?
-How could this study be applied differently or with more detail?
-Could this study have been done differently to get more detailed findings?

Article #2
The Study
The Study Method
Video Discussion
Final Conclusion
By: Vanessa Setter
Literature Review:

Intercultural Understandings and Competencies

Article 1:
Language Learner/Native Speaker Interactions

Article 2:
“Do you know Naomi?”: Researching the intercultural competence of teachers who teach Greek as a second language in immigrant classes.
What does intercultural language and communication mean to you?
Discussion Question:
Definitions from the Literature Review:
Intercultural effectiveness:
Ability to interact with people from different cultures
Intercultural competence:
Ability to communicate effectively & appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes
Definitions from the Literature Review:
- Intercultural literacy:
Understandings, competences, attitudes, language proficiencies, participation and identities necessary for successful cross-cultural engagement

- Global competence:
Having an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others

Language Across Cultures
A presentation by:
Melissa Enns

Vanessa Setter

Sagana Rajasingham
Good Job?
Intercultural Communication & Students
Working together

All aspects of intercultural communication together= abilities to behave and communicate effectively and appropriately in multicultural contexts

Interacting effectively
Intercultural awareness & intercultural competence

Ongoing learning process
Through interpretation,
self-reflection, negotiation
The Importance of Intercultural Communication
Associating with individuals from diverse cultures
Globalized economics, rapid development of info & communicative technologies
Internationalization of education programs & institutions
Not doing so:

Article 1:
Language Learner/ Native Speaker Interactions
To end my part and lead into the next presentation I want to talk about bilingual language and gestures.

In one of my studies it said the Japanese language there is no word for 'swing', so when they go to make a gesture it looks like :

However, if they were to speak in English, we understand swing, so we can make a gesture like:

Bilingualism can be very beneficial
76 black and white pictures
-38 American
-19 happy, 19 neutral
-38 Australian
-19 happy, 19 neutral

- happy expressions were more accurately judged than that of targets showing neutral expressions *based on nationality*

-individuals who were Caucasian were less accurate at identifying nationality from emotional expressions than were individuals of other races

Let's go back to my initial hypothesis: "there would be no difference in identifying between American's and Australian's because the lifestyles and cultures are relatively similar"

My hypothesis was wrong, as the participants could correctly identify between American and Australian 80% of the time

Cross culturally?

When we think of nonverbal forms of communication head movements don't generally come up

However, head movements can help to identify a person's feelings towards a situation or if they are being actively receptive to what you are saying
-Without uttering a word
This study wanted to look at the cultural differences and similarities between cultures and head movements

I personally believe that there will be a difference in head movements between the different cultures, and that these movements represent various verbal communications
Arabic, Korean, Bulgarian and African-American participants were all filmed while having a conversation with a person

The participants knew it was a study on language but where unaware it was about nonverbal language cues

The researchers looked at: (1) inclusivity, (2) intensification, (3) uncertainty/certainty ,(4) direct quotes, (5) mental imagery, (6) deixis, (7) lists or alternatives, or(8) backchanneling.
Identical movements in: inclusiveness, and understanding

Inclusive: turns head to make sure everybody in the room gets involved in the discussion

-people tend to nod their heads for understanding

Through this presentation you have gained knowledge into the world of nonverbal communication and how cultures have many differences and similarities

You have learned how gestures can vary from different cultures, which can deeply impact meaning and understanding

You have learned that people from different cultures have different facial cues making their facial expressions unique, so they can be identified

Lastly, you have learned that there is a huge similarity between head movements to express understanding and provide emphasis without using words
Purpose of this Study:
Address the obstacles of language learner-native speaker interactions by examining specific dimensions of communicative adaptability that contribute to initial interactions among students from diverse linguistic backgrounds
What does communication adaptability mean to you?
Communication Adaptability in The College/ University Environment
We think of college and university campuses as intercultural spaces.
The social world inside college campuses
Sporting events, community-oriented programs, night time entertainment, study groups, student government, clubs
More campus clubs and programs emphasize diversity and intercultural awareness in activities

So in theory...
The presence of a multicultural and multilingual population should mesh well with initiatives for intercultural education
Providing more access to the target language in both academic and
social communities

But by looking at real life experiences...
Convergence of opportunity and participation remains a challenge
Lack of interaction
Comfort level

Role of Adaptability in Communication

Students claim to be “adaptable” and open to new experiences, yet when they are offered, there are no concrete social interactions

Seeing diversity vs. feeling diversity
Research Question
“Will differences emerge in students’ self-perceptions of their social experience, social composure, social confirmation, appropriate disclosure, articulation and wit in relation to their language speaking status (monolingual native speaker, multilingual, or language learner)?”
- Non residential college campus
- Overall minority population rep. is 30% of 3500 full time and part time students
- N= 1118
596 female
522 male students
Age : 18-74

More about the participants:
74% identified as monolingual speakers of English
11% identified as bi-/multilingual
15% English language learners

Native languages represented
Spanish (n=54)
Chinese (n=48)
Russian (n=38)
Vietnamese (n=21)
Korean (n=19)
French Creole (n=18)
Polish (n=14)
Less than 10 of:
Hindi, Urdu, Hebrew, Albanian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Cambodian, Portuguese, Greek, German

The Method
- Duran's (1992) 30-item Likert-style CA scale
Participant's perceptions of themselves as adaptable communicators
- 6 Dimensions of CA
- Surveys
Pilot study was conducted to look for any difficulties in wording and comprehension
Asked to respond to the survey items according to their experiences in social situations in which they were speaking English

ANOVA between language groups for dimensions of communicative adaptability
Show differences in students’ self-perceptions of CA across the native speaker, multilingual, and language learner groups
Differences in dimension of social experience

Discussion Question:
Does having access to more
than one language make it easier to
feel as one
can socialize well among diverse
groups of people?
Students with little language experience will need more help in recognizing how humor, use of idioms, and references to popular culture permeate social conversations and potentially interfere with comprehension for the language learners

Monolingual and language learners might share perceptions of themselves as less competent in novel social interactions

Relevance of Duran’s
dimensions outside of the US
Can you think of any other limitations?
Article 2:
“Do you know Naomi?”: Researching the intercultural competence of teachers
who teach Greek as a second language in immigrant classes
Research question:
Whether, and to what extent, have teachers developed intercultural communication competence while teaching the second language?
Rationale for the Study:
- Intercultural competence: regarded as
the ability to deal with differences that derive from everyday communication
The ability to handle the unknown

- In order for second-language teachers to be able to help students develop intercultural competence in their class, they need to acquire it themselves

- Second language classes constitute highly supportive contexts for the development of intercultural competencies

- 20 teachers who teach Greek as a second language in 20 classes for immigrants
- Teaching Greek as a second language for 3-10 years
- 22 immigrant students from one of the 20 classes
The Method:
Qualitative approach
Participant observation in the courses
Semi-structured interviews with teachers
Semi-structured interviews with students

Only four out of the 20 truly
took advantage of the experiences and cultural backgrounds of their students
A "good" teacher
These teachers often asked students about their experiences demonstrating not only a friendly environment but an effective cooperation between teacher and student

An example, when one teacher discussed a text with references a multicultural society, this teacher asked students to share experiences from their home countries, as well as compare these with their experiences in Greece

Conveying experiences = promoting dialogue between students

A "bad" teacher
Majority of teachers observed did not take advantage of the intercultural opportunities which arose during their teaching

After reading a text, a teacher asked students whether they were familiar with a specific square in Athens which is mentioned in tourist guides. When none of the students responded (since most of them were unfamiliar with tourist attractions in Athens), the teacher failed to follow up

Discussion Question:
Does this make them a bad person or a bad teacher? Thoughts?
The self-fulfilling prophecy
The teacher expects some students to fail because of their background and s/he ignores the needs of these students

Implications & Conclusion
The majority of teachers who teach Greek as a second language cannot be considered interculturally competent

Teacher education through experiential learning and practices of self observation and self reflection

Must be connected with everyday experiences

In conclusion...
Even babies from a young age learn to use head movements to convey a message since they are unable to talk

Have you ever been
a situation where a
person either nods
or doesn't nod at all?
When people don't
nod we take it as a sign of disrespect here because we think the person is not paying attention. However, in some cultures, head nodding is not something the culture engages in, so it would be disrespectful if the person started to nod
The study provides an interesting approach to looking at facial expressions and shape in helping to identify between different cultures

You may be wondering how this is connected to language, so lets break it down. Do any of you have any thoughts?
Language Connection and Cross Culture Connection
This study has a connection to language because facial expressions are non verbal!

Although the study is looking at identifying between American and Australian, they still use the facial shapes to help us identify

Looking cross culturally it can be seen because different cultures represent facial expressions differently, thus making them unique and easily identifiable to another person of that country
Interesting Research on Deaf Children with Hearing Parents
This study looks at American mothers and Chinese mothers and how they communicate with their deaf children

The background discusses that Chinese parenting is rooted in
-Change can happen - but it takes hard work, and hierarchy
While American parenting is rooted in
-Not so hierarchical but egalitarian and hard work based on child & parent

"Glad to Meet You:

For 2 minutes, each pair will get to know each other. They should ask about things like hobbies, career, family, type of music they like, if they are happy and so on. Then, each pair will take a turn introducing one another to the rest of the group, using only nonverbal communication. The group will guess what is being related. Each group will get 1-2 minutes to present without using words"
There are varying views and beliefs in both American and Chinese cultures about a child who is born with some form of handicap

Some Chinese believe
-This child brings misfortune to the whole family

Some Americans believe
-This person is considered to be second class
Purpose of Study
The researchers aimed to see if the traditional beliefs impacted how hearing parents communicated with their deaf children
The researchers used
-8 deaf Chinese children and
8 deaf American children
-All were profoundly deaf, and
mothers had to communicate using sign language and spontaneous gestures

The researchers filmed the mother and child
-Chinese mothers were significantly more likely to initiate gestures and sign with their children, than American mothers
-However, since the children were deaf mothers from both cultures initiated more than mothers with hearing children

-Chinese babies started to initiate more gestures because they were getting engaged more; thus, becoming more competent with non-verbal communication

-There was no difference (once gestures were initiated) in the type of the gestures being used

Both the literature review and the study on deaf children both indicate the importance of gestures in different cultures

The one article discusses how the same gesture can have a different meaning in another part of the world, creating confusion

The other article discusses the importance of engaging children to foster communication, even if it is non-verbal
This study provided a good background
into head movements as non verbal language

Head movements provide significant non verbal language cues, that are incredibly important during speaking and conversations
Bilingualism and Culture

By: Melissa Enns
Literature Review
: Are there bilingual advantages on nonlinguistic interference tasks? Implications for the plasticity of executive control processes (2011)

Article 1
: Good language-switchers are good task-switchers: Evidence from Spanish-English and Mandarin-English bilinguals (2011)

Article 2
: Where is the bilingual advantage in task-switching? (2013)
The Statistics
of Americans can speak a language other than English whereas
of Europeans can speak a second language
Where does that leave Canada?
In 2001,
66% of Canadians knew only one language
28% of Canadians knew two languages
5% of Canadians knew three languages, and
1% of Canadians knew four languages
Wrapping up: The Advantages of Bilingualism
What does this mean and why are we so bad at language acquisition?
Early research
Suggested that learning a second language at an early age can hinder intellectual development
Believed that the two language systems would obstruct each other, making it hard to learn either language, and making an individual worse at
Recent Research
One language system can obstruct the other in early years, however, the process of learning two languages forces the brain to resolve this internal conflict.

Being bilingual has many benefits and grows many parts of the brain at a young age.

It is more difficult, though not impossible, to become fluent in a second language after puberty.
How is bilingualism related to culture?
Small number of participants
Teacher's backgrounds
Student's backgrounds
Bilingual bicultural: Celina Lee at TEDxHanRiver. (2013, June 16). YouTube. Retrieved February 1, 2014,
from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= H8LUBz_9tlw

Hernández, M., Martin, C. D., Barceló, F., & Costa, A. (2013). Where is he bilingual advantage in task-
switching? Journal of Memory and Language, 69, 257-276. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2013.06.004

Hilchey, M. D., & Klein, R. M. (2011). Are there bilingual advantages on nonlinguistic interference
tasks? Implications for the plasticity of executive control processes. Psychonomic Bulletin &
Review, 18, 625-658. doi: 10.3758/s13423-011-0116-7

Marin, G., Triandis, H. C., Betancourt, H., & Kashima, Y. (1983). Ethnic affirmation versus social
desirability: Explaining discrepancies in bilinguals' responses to a questionnaire. Journal of
Cross-Cultural Psychology, 14(2), 173-186.

OCOL - A Look at Bilingualism. (n.d.). OCOL - A look at bilingualism. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from

Prior, A., & Gollan, T. H. (2011). Good language-switchers are good task-switchers: Evidence from
Spanish-English and Mandarin-English bilinguals. Journal of the International
Neuropsychological Society, 17, 682-691. doi: 10.1017/S1355617711000580

Taylor, D. M., & Simard, L. M. (1972). The role of bilingualism in cross-cultural communication. Journal
of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 3(1), 101-108.
Reviewing the Lit Review
Two major hypotheses surrounding bilingualism:
Bilingual inhibitory control advantage (BICA) hypothesis
Bilingual executive processing advantage (BEPA) hypothesis
Mediated by inhibitory control
Research shows that it is sporadic at best and is sometimes completely absent
Little evidence to support it but is endorsed in the literature
Places the locus of control on a central executive system with a capacity regulating processing across a wide variety of task demands
Leads to bilingual advantages across a broad range of tasks where there is a need for executive control
Research suggests bilinguals have a general processing advantage that can be detected early developmentally and that persists throughout the lifespan
A lifetime of dual-language use results in neurocognitive differences between bilinguals and monolinguals.
Evident by bilinguals outperforming monolinguals on compatible and incompatible trials.
Indicates a more widespread cognitive advantage (BEPA) that is observable on a variety of cognitive assessment tools although it is not always apparent in non-linguistic inhibitory control processes.

With all things considered...
Discussion Questions
Let's see if our class models the statistics:
How many of you are monolingual?

What is your experience with bilingualism (even if you, yourself, only speak one language)?

Do any of you have any intentions of learning a new language after this presentation? Why or why not?
Article 1

: To investigate the link between language and task-switching in bilinguals to determine what degree or type of bilingualism leads to executive control task advantages
The Participants

47 monolingual English speakers
41 Spanish-English bilingual speakers
43 Mandarin-English bilingual speakers

Compared the performance of two undergraduate bilingual groups (Spanish-English and Mandarin-English) and monolingual speakers in task-switching and language-switch paradigms
The Investigation
What would you predict?
1. Spanish-English bilinguals may demonstrate more efficient task- and language-switching because they switch languages more often and are more balanced bilinguals than Mandarin-English (at least in this sample)

2. Mandarin-English bilinguals will have a stronger switching advantage since language-switching takes more effort when the languages are more different

3. All bilinguals will have a task-switching advantage because both groups are life-long users of two languages

Tested all the groups on task-switching abilities then examined the relation between task- and language switching paradigms for the bilingual groups
The Specifics
Non-linguistic Task Switching:
Colour and shape judgments of visual stimuli using buttons to indicate selection
"Sandwich" design
Cue and targets stayed on screen until a selection was made

Language Switching:
Two single language blocks, three mixed language blocked, two single language blocks in opposite order
A digit from 1-9 appears and participant identifies the digit verbally
National flags (American, Mexican, Chinese) to indicate language (English, Spanish, Mandarin)

Shipley Vocabulary Test:
40 multiple choice questions selecting the closest meaning

Verbal Fluency:
One minute to name as many items belonging to semantic category as possible

Matrices subtest, Kaufman brief intelligence test, second edition:
Non-verbal reasoning test with 46 items
Series of pictures that follow a pattern
One element is missing and have to select the picture completing the pattern
Good language-switchers are good task-switchers: Evidence from Spanish-English and Mandarin-English bilinguals (Prior & Gollan, 2011)
Where is the bilingual advantage in task-switching? (Hernández, Martin, Barceló & Costa, 2013)
: To examine the performance of monolinguals and bilinguals in three different implementations of the task-switching paradigm that afford the assessment of different components of task switching
: Three task-switching paradigm experiments
1. Disengaged the restart cost typically occurring after a cue from the switch cost itself using two cue-task versions varying in explicitness
2. Tested bilingualism effects on overriding, conflicting response sets by including bivalency effects
3. Attempted to replicate the reduced switch cost of bilinguals with the same implementation as in previous research

Experiment 1
: A reduced restart cost for bilinguals relative to monolinguals in the implicit cue experiment, which is more cognitively demanding

Experiment 2
: Bilinguals, overall, had faster response latencies

Experiment 1, 2, & 3
: Similar switch costs for bilinguals and monolinguals in all three experiments

Discrepancies in the Research
These empirical articles seem to have conflicting results. Can you see any glaring limitations in either of the studies?
Non-linguistic task-switching and bilingualism
Bilinguals switch between their two languages with remarkable efficiency.

The assumption in research is that some of the processes involved in language-switching are the same as those involved in domain-general task-switching.

The fact that bilinguals are used to switching between languages regularly may lead to more efficient functioning of the task-switching system.

Mandarin-English bilinguals reported switching languages significantly less often in daily conversations

Mandarin-English bilinguals reported lower fluency scores and rated themselves as less proficient

Spanish-English bilinguals exhibited smaller task-switching costs than Mandarin-English bilinguals and monolinguals but equivalent mixing costs, which was present only after controlling for parent-education level

To communicate
For vacations or traveling
Better able to express oneself
Better at adapting to changing stimuli
Keeps the brain healthy
Increased longevity
Increase in hourly wages

Article 2
By being aware of intercultural language and communication, we can communicate effectively with others that are
different from us by understanding
them and their culture.

50 Catalan-Spanish bilinguals and 50 Spanish monolinguals took part in the implicit-cue version
37 Catalan-Spanish bilinguals and 37 Spanish monolinguals took part in the explicit-cue version
Experiment 3 was an attempt of a direct replication of Prior and colleagues (2011)
77 participants took place (38 Catalan-Spanish, 29 Spanish monolinguals
The experiment failed to replicate the previous observations
Omnibus analysis to look at a bilingual effect across three experiments

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