Черкаський медичний коледж

Cross Cultural Aspects in Foreign Languages Study


   Proficiency in a foreign language combined with knowledge of and skills in another professional area is highly desirable in the marketplace nowadays. Business places the greatest emphasis on both foreign language capability and knowledge of specific subject areas like management, tourism, finance and some others.

   Technical or professional ability is the primary criterion for selecting managers for international assignments. The ability to adapt to a new environment is considered to be a secondary importance but foreign language capability ranks far below the other attributes as a selection factor.

   An employee possessing a solid combination of language and business or managerial skills can have a competitive edge over others without language capability. Bilingual individuals, often those for whom English is a second language, are in great demand. A majority of companies meet their translation and interpreting needs through employees whose major responsibilities are not language-related. In business dealings, details and nuances of meaning are often missed or misinterpreted by individuals lacking real proficiency in the language being used. It is also known that communication problems mean more time required for negotiations and other business dealings. As a result, efficiency suffers, and decisions are often made on the basis of incomplete data.

   Perhaps even more significant than a lack of foreign language capability, however, is cross-cultural misunderstanding. The ability of representatives of different nationalities and cultures to communicate freely guarantees success not only of the free exchange of information, knowledge and cultural values, but also for overcoming religious and national feuds.

   The mastery of a foreign language presupposes not only familiarity with the rules of grammar, but also a certain store of words and the specific of their usage. The ability to speak a language is inextricably linked with understanding the history, culture, and customs of the people speaking this language.

   Most people from another culture are happy to talk about their customs. It is important to show some empathy. Putting oneself in another’s situation is a good start. Most everyday intercultural conflicts are caused by cultural miscommunication or ignorance. One of the causes of this is ethnothentrism. Individuals are often unaware of their own ethnothentric behaviors and evaluations. They think the characteristics of one’s own group or race to be superior to those of other groups or races. The key to overcoming intercultural communication problems and conflicts is to develop empathy with others. Then the move from tribalism to nationalism needs to be undertaken, and from there the move towards globalism, the trend that has already become the world fashion and promises to become quite an imperative for the new century generation.

   Economic interdependence among nations and renewed interest in other cultures and peoples have led to increasing enrollments in foreign language teaching.

   The integration of career and foreign language studies is leading to increasingly successful global interactions.

   Multilingualism is being viewed now as a necessity for the existence of the united Europe. The ability to speak several languages is linked not only with economic, but also with general educational issues, as a factor for the overall political and cultural development of the individual. So, the cultural element acquires particular importance in foreign language teaching, and the emphasis is put on the cultural specifics of the people whose language is being studied. Mastering a foreign language is a mechanism for developing culture, a means of forming a view of the world and man inside it.

  Mastering a foreign language runs parallel to familiarization with the greatest works of the foreign art and literature. Study of the target language is seen not as an end, but as means for accessing the essence of a different culture, a different national character and mentality. Tolerance to the foreigners, otherness is not only forbearance, but the acknowledgement of another viewpoint, another personality and culture. The objective of Europe is to find a political unity through multilingualism. It is known that through communication with another, our own language is enriched and becomes more understandable. The comparison with the target culture, customs, traditions and language helps us to appreciate our own language better and reach the essence of what the generations before us have bequeathed to us.

    Specifically, business language teachers need to be trained in the cultural priorities that are the basis for business practices and communication. Teachers must not only teach the language formats, but the cultural basis for them. They should also have a good understanding of business practices in the target and native cultures. By focusing on communication skills rather than language skills, teachers can make students more adaptable to any business context. This means there will be less focus on correction, and more emphasis on audience analysis, verbal and non-verbal communication, and developing the message. Foreign language teachers should also be trained in teaching students language-learning skills they can use outside the classroom.