Universities are enriched by students and staff from many nations and of many cultures.

Different cultures have different ‘rules’ that influence things like how we behave, how we speak, what we value, our concepts of time, interpersonal space, and even humour.

Each of us interprets a situation through our own cultural ‘lens’.

Intercultural communication involves understanding others and making yourself understood by others.

To communicate effectively with people from other cultures you need to:

  • Be aware of the possibility of cultural difference
  • Acknowledge and respect difference
  • Strive to understand

Ideas for better cross-cultural communication include:

  • Speak clearly, normal pace, normal volume, no colloquialisms, (i.e. ‘hang on a tick’) or double negatives (i.e. ‘not bad’)
  • Use short sentences
  • Provide instructions in a clear sequence
  • Summarise
  • Check understanding - ask questions which require more than a 'yes' or 'no' answer 
  • Demonstrate if possible
  • Write instructions down if necessary
  • Make procedures very clear
  • Be aware of non-verbal signals
  • Be patient non-English speakers may have to translate what you’ve said into their home language then try to convert their response back into English

A Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Practice Toolkit with Theory into Practice Strategy Folios  (TIPS) is available.

The Teaching and Learning Tips consist of:

More information on Equity and Diversity can be found on the Equity Office website.