Instructor: Nguyen Bach Nga
Student: Nguyen Thi Hong Ngoc
Student ID: 1270110182
Question 1: Elaborate on three of the coss-cultural communication principles and give concrete
examples for each of them.
Every country has its own culture which distinguishes them from others. Therefore, when
learning cross-cultural communication, learners should always remember cross-cultural
principles in order to have an effective communication with people from different cultures.
However, this paper will analyze three most important principles.
The first principle is that there are no absolute “rights” and “wrongs” in cultures, only
cultural differences. What is acceptable in one culture may be unacceptable in another culture.
For example, in India, before getting married, a woman can spend time with her lover. A term
for a short time spent with a lover before marriage could be called “Holiday in Goa”. This
happens because Indians believe this source of holiday is a compensation for what the woman
will do for her future husband for the rest of her life. Although the role of a woman towards
family in Vietnam, China and India is quite familiar, both Vietnamese and Chinese find it hard to
accept a so-called “Holiday in Goa”. Therefore, something that is right in one culture may be
wrong in another and vice-versa.
The second principle is that there are two levels of observation in order to approach
cultural values. The first one is that all cultures have values and ideals that their members say
are true. The second one is that their behavior may not always reflect those values. For instance,
Americans strongly believe the value of marrying to the same person for life However, they do
not, in reality, reflect this. Although the divorce rate in US has gradually decreased in the past
years, it is still at the top 10 countries with the highest divorce rate.
Last but not least, culture does not explain all behavior. Individual’s behavior is not only
affected by culture but also by personality, age, gender, economic and educational levels, life
experiences and relationships. For example, it is impossible to say that everyone in one culture
communicates similarly. Older people often communicate according to more traditional norms
than younger people. In addition, there are gender differences in the way people behave. When
talking about emotional issues and feelings, women tend to be more direct than men.
In short, be able to find a comfortable middle ground for ourselves when studying crosscultural communication, we should pay attention to those principles above. By following
carefully the principles, learners can see a bigger picture of different culture. Moreover, it
enables learners to realize the benefit of and be more interested in competing cross-cultural
Question 2: An old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. To what extent do
you agree with it? Write about 500 words to support your answer using your knowledge from the
Cross-cultural Communication course.
With a dramatic development in globalization, the demand of working and studying in
other countries has been increased. Therefore, increasing cross-cultural competence is vastly
significant. This is because it enables us to adapt to uncertainty and cope with cultural
differences when being abroad. There is an American proverb, “When in Rome, do as the
Romans do” which can fit this occasion. It means that when you are in another country, you
should behave like the people in that country. In my opinion, I agree with the idea but to some
extent I disagree with this saying.
There is little room for doubt that when you live in another country or another culture, you
should follow their rules and norms to adjust well in that country. Obeying another culture’s
rules might be the best way in order to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts with
residents. It will also help avoid embarrassment and bring a sense of comfort. For example, an
American who has just lived in Vietnam for about a month received a wedding invitation from a
friend. On the invitation, it was written that the ceremony would start at 11 a.m. However, in
fact, the ceremony was 1 hour late, which made the American feel irritated. Later on, he learns
that Vietnamese have a tendency of being late. As time has gone by, he gradually accepts that
and does not feel irritated any more. Therefore, when being in another country, obeying their
rules is the best way to merge into the new culture and integrate into the new society.
Nevertheless, behaving as those around do poses a risk of losing one’s own identities. We
tend to lose some components of our own culture such as traditions, customs or taboos in
attempt to follow and embrace other cultures. When ones are too accustomed to a new culture,
he will probably steadily behave or act naturally without trying to follow the rules. Eventually,
their next generations will totally lose their identities because you yourself have already lost it.
Another reason which can lead to the loss of your own culture is because you do not want to be
bullied by others just because of the cultural differences. Therefore, you try to assimilate
completely into a new culture. This have already happened towards African in the past when
they were force to immigrate to America as slaveries.
Taking into consideration the above ideas, although the saying, “When in Rome, do as the
Romans do” encourages us to behave or act in a way according to local rules and customs when
you are in an environment that is different from your own. However, while doing that we will
gradually lose our own identities. Therefore, you should adopt local conventions as well as
cherish our own cultures.
A saying goes, ‘To know another’s language and not his culture is a very good way to make
a fluent fool of one’s self’. It means to learn a new language, learners should learn the culture of
the country in which specified language is spoken. In other words, learning a new language
means learning a new culture because the culture reflects the language that how we
communicate. This might be because of the strong connections between language and culture as
well. They influence each other, reflect each other and co-exist with each other. In my opinion,
to succeed in second language learning acquisition and to communicate skillfully and effectively,
linguistic knowledge is not enough. Besides that, learners should be competence in cultural
knowledge in order to avoid cultural shock or communication breakdown.
It is generally agreed that language and culture are closely related. Language is certainly a
big part of culture. Therefore, to be able to communicate effectively with foreigners, not only do
we need to learn their language but also their culture. Linguistic competence alone is not
enough to competent in that language. Culture of the target language plays an important role in
achieving that. It is undeniable that cultures do greatly influence communication styles. Cultural
styles apparently obviously can and do create misunderstandings in conversations among people
from different cultures. Therefore, having a great knowledge of a target language culture is
significant for facilitating communication with people from different backgrounds. There are
different types of communication patterns related to cultural differences, which can cause a
cultural shock or communication breakdown for one and another. For instance, considering
directness and indirectness in communication, people from cultures which favor directness are
likely to express their opinions, feelings and needs directly. They tend not to beat around the
bush and wait for others to understand what they really want. However, people from cultures
which prefer indirectness in communication tend not to get to the point directly and consider
indirectness as politeness, which usually cause misunderstanding among cultures. For example,
compared to American way of speaking, Vietnamese speak much more indirectly. Directness is
sometimes considered as a form of impoliteness in Vietnam. When visiting Americas’ house,
Vietnamese people tend to stay polite when being asked “Are you hungry” by answering “Yes, a
little”. However, Americans may not understand that and postpone the meal and continue the
chat. Later on, they might notice the rumbling noise from the guests why their Vietnamese
guests did not tell the true. This is because Americans do not hesitate to express what they want
as directness is honesty for them. This example above can clearly indicate how cultures affect
the way we speak. Therefore, mastering in grammars and vocabularies does not guarantee that
you will have a successful communication with foreigners unless you learn its culture.
Furthermore, learning to understand a target language culture may help learners to use words
and expressions more skillfully and act naturally in different cultures
In conclusion, while learning a foreign language ones should not only develop their
knowledge in term of linguistic components, but also improve intercultural competence.
Moreover, through using the knowledge of a language and its culture, people will know how to
survive in different life situations and behave properly. Therefore, try to not just be bilingual but
be bicultural as well.
Question 4: Differentiate between cultural generalizations and cultural stereotype. Give
concrete examples to illustrate.
Generalizations and stereotypes are two well-known concepts that have usually come
together. However, they function differently though they may appear the same. Therefore,
when learning other’s culture, it is important to be able to distinguish the differences between
generalizations and stereotypes in order to interact effectively with others and avoiding
misunderstandings and cultural shocks.
Generalizations are statements made about tendencies of a group of people. In other
words, a generalization is a description of a cultural trait that comes after being observed,
experienced and educated a large number of people. A generalization never applies to everyone
in specific culture in every situation. Moreover, generalizations provide general characteristics
on cultural and social factors and recognize that the individuals within a group vary in many
ways. The point of a generalization is to say what is true most of the time. It provides us a
general picture of a culture that is different from ours for the purpose of discussion or learning.
Cultural generalizations also help people to behave properly or know how to interact with other
people from different culture in different situations. Generalizations often use the words ‘some’
or ‘many’ in their statements. For example, when talking about differences in directness
between American males and female, there is a generalization that many American women have
traditionally been less direct than men in making requests, expressing criticism and offering
opinion. However, not every American woman is like that, there are still some exceptions.
Generalizations are useful and necessary, as long as they remain guidelines and do not turn into
On contrast, a stereotype is an exaggerated or distorted generalization or an assumption
about an entire category of people that does not acknowledge individual variation. It is applied
to everyone in every situation in that culture without exceptions. Even worse, stereotypes are
retained even when they are no longer accurate or useful. It presents a fixed and inflexible
image of a group. Stereotypes often use the words all or most in their statements and/or
presume the categorical. For instance, some people say that all Americans are overweight but
clearly not all American is overweight. Stereotypical beliefs prevent us from seeing people as
individuals with unique characteristics. Negative stereotypes lead to prejudice and result in
some forms of discrimination. An illustration for a prejudice resulting from negative stereotype
is that a family strongly forbidden their son to get married a Mien Tay woman just because they
think that all Mien Tay woman is lazy. However, in fact, this woman is very hard-working. This
illustration indicates clearly the relationship between prejudice and stereotypes, which leads to
misjudgment and unfair toward certain people.
In conclusion, although similarities between generalization and stereotype are apparent,
they still function in different ways. Therefore, people should pay attention to the differences
between them. This is because generalizations and stereotypes impact intercultural