Intercultural communication examines how people from different societies interact, communicate and understand the world. It is particularly relevant when considering TESOL because English teachers and students often come from different cultures, bringing their own social norms to the classroom, which may affect the learning process.
Aside from aiding a TESOL instructor in the process of teaching English, intercultural communication is also useful in a business context. As multi-national corporations grow and more companies conduct business outside of their national boundaries, comprehending and accommodating various cultures becomes essential in production, marketing and organization.
Individuals may study intercultural communication as an independent subject or as a concentration within a TESOL course. Topics include awareness of cultural behavior patterns, tolerance development, understanding of diverse cultural signifiers (such as silence, body language and time), cultural study, cross-cultural pragmatics (nuanced differences in how language is used), understanding the peculiarity of one’s own culture and strategies for overcoming cultural differences.
Though the general goal of these courses is to promote intercultural competence, the subject matter of each differs with its specific aims. TESOL-paired courses focus on identifying the cultural expectations of students and selecting the methodology best suited to meet those expectations. Business-oriented classes may cover negotiation, advertising, business communication, and may involve the study of a particular culture.