Communicating across cultures: The inclusion of foreign language learning and cross cultural communication skills in UAL degree courses

  • Gareth Rees: Course Leader, English for Academic Purposes Overseas and Credit Bearing Units

Brief description of session and activities

This paper will outline a curriculum innovation undertaken by LCF and the UAL Language Centre, namely the development of two units on the MSc International Fashion Management at LCF. These units focus on both cross-cultural communication skills and the learning of Mandarin. The aim is to prepare students for work in international contexts and to make them more able to cross borders – geographical, social and psychological.

The paper will look at the course content and structure – highlighting innovative teaching and learning approaches which include the UAL degree students working with international students studying English at the Language Centre – and the response of students to the learning on the units.

Following the presentation, there will be activities for the attendees to participate in, activities which come from the work that we do on these MSc units. These activities will ask participants to…

  1. reflect on aspects of cultural difference as they affect communication
  2. reflect on their personal cross-cultural communication skills
  3. develop their awareness of specific language and communication styles which can hinder successful co-operation within an international context based in England

Theme fit: - Cross cultural communication skills enable us to cross borders effectively - Cross cultural awareness and communication skills improve our ability to work with those who have crossed a border into our space - The creation of the course meant LCF and the Language Centre crossed borders within UAL, which was not straightforward as both departments had very different cultures and practices. - Learning Mandarin helps to reduce the strength of the psychological border that the world’s second largest economy and booming creative centre seems to present.

How will students be involved in the session?

The students will take part in the activities on an equal basis as staff members, with perhaps more to contribute as they will be drawing on their own experiences as students in a university with a broad international cohort.

What will participants take away from the session?

They will have a better understanding of the skills required for successful cross-cultural communication, and will be able to consider including similar programmes of study in their own courses.

Also, they will be aware of the challenges that creating a course across departments presents.