Social Networking, Language Learning & Intercultural Competence

“BookÁlvarez Valencia, J. A., & Fernández Benavides, A. (2019). Using social networking sites for language learning to develop intercultural competence in language education programs. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 12(1), 23-42. DOI: 10.1080/17513057.2018.1503318

Álvarez Valencia & Fernández Benavides examine the influence of Livemocha, a social networking site for language learning (SNSLL) on the intercultural competence of undergraduates learning English in Colombia. They define intercultural competence as “a capability that enables people from different cultural backgrounds to interact, bringing into their act of sign-making their societal, cultural, and individual knowledge about the world to make possible an effective negotiation of meanings” (pp. 25-26).

They found that:

Students decentered and opened themselves to examine their own cultural practices, their own meaning-making processes, and those of other learners of Livemocha” (p. 38)

So the answer was that it had a positive influence on both attitudes and knowledge. There were some issues with what this particular chat system permitted, but overall the results were successful.

A Call to Cosmopolitan Communication

“BookJensen, A. (2020). A call to cosmopolitanism: A narrative of richness and mystery. Oracle, AZ: CMM Institute Press.

We are witnessing the emergence of a new form of communication.

Call to Cosmopolitanism cover

One with the potential to overcome the political polarization dominating our social landscape in recent decades. Cosmopolitan communication is one way of naming this emerging form and the promise it holds. In A Call to Cosmopolitan Communication, Arthur Jensen explores the dimensions, skillsets, and transforming potential of this new form, contrasting it with the all-too-familiar patterns of communication we experience as ethnocentric and modernistic tendencies.

Drawing on Pearce and Cronen’s enduring practical theory, the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM), Jensen focuses on the concept of mystery and our ability to co-produce narratives of richness that embrace our differences instead of simply assimilating, tolerating, or dismissing them.

A Call to Cosmopolitan Communication is not a call to arms but a call to human thriving. The call to human thriving is answered when we recognize that our lives are shaped in social interaction with others and that the quality of our communication with each other matters enormously. This book, along with Penman and Jensen’s previous work in Making Better Social Worlds, supports Cosmopolis2045.com, a companion project depicting one vision of a better social world that can emerge from a cosmopolitan mindset.

Interculturing Cinema

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Mukherjee, I., & Williams, M. G. (2020). Migration, mobility and sojourning in cross-cultural films: Interculturing cinema. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Ishani Mukherjee and Maggie Griffith Williams analyze six cross-cultural films through an intercultural communication lens and argue that their depictions of migration, mobility, and the resulting intercultural communications are complex and stressful moments of conflict, with mixed outcomes ranging from productive personal growth to endless oppression, familial or social separation, and loss of identity.

Global movements and intercultural communication are oft-explored themes in popular cinema from Hollywood and beyond. The authors pay homage to this cinematic trend by locating transnational films within key themes that tie into global movements, their complexities, and implications. While some films focus on migrants’ experiences of culture-shock, cultural assimilation and/or integration, some cinematic texts focus on cultural identities that are in transition within contexts of social mobility and movements. Other films explore the short-term intercultural impact that sojourners experience in unfamiliar cultural spaces and different social positions.

Why is it Worth Waking Up Every Morning? (Greece)

“BookKefalaki, Margarita (Ed.). (2020). Why is it worth waking up every morning? Impressions and reflections on inspiration, motivation, and collaboration. Athens, Greece: Communication Institute of Greece.

This example of intercultural communication, this multilingual and multicultural co-creation, aims to become a voice that unites us all! – Margarita Kefalaki

Why is it worth waking up every morning?For their first collaborative project, the Vice Presidents of the Communication Institute of Greece (COMinG) have worked together to pass on a message of hope through their motivational book entitled: Why is it worth waking up every morning? This book was created as a sign of hope, especially during the difficult times we face as a global collective (e.g., the COVID-19 global crisis in 2020). It is a book of encouragement with impressions and reflections on inspiration, motivation, and collaboration.

The VP Community of the Communication Institute of Greece includes: Karl-Heinz Pogner, Sophia Karanicolas, Michael A. Altamirano, Christian Schnee, Ailson J. De Moraes, Fotini Diamantidaki, Robert J. Bonk, Carolin Rekar Munro, and Jürgen Rudolph, who have all  shared their viewpoints on why it is, or is not, worth it to wake up each morning.

Note: Follow the link provided to download a free copy of the ebook.

Being Korean AND Black

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Kang Hyun-kyung. (May 23, 2020). I am Korean yet culturally black. The Korea Times.

Cindy Wilson, author of Too Much Soul: The Journey of an Asian Southern Belle, was born I Wol-yang in Seoul and adopted by African-American parents in 1975 when she was a few months old. Her name was changed to Cindy and she was brought to America by her adoptive parents the following year. Raised in Mississippi, Wilson identifies as being part of the African American community, even though she is Asian.

Too much soul

The article, and the book that sparked it, seem likely to start interesting class discussions about racial vs. cultural identity. Biracial students, or students adopted across racial lines as in this case, are often particularly skilled at helping other students in a course help learn how to gracefully discuss the issues.

 

Sara Greco: From Conflict to Dialogue

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Greco, Sara. (2020). Dal conflitto al dialogo: Un approccio comunicativo alla mediazione [From conflict to dialogue: A communication approach to mediation]. Santarcangelo di Romagna: Maggioli Editore.

“Words are mightier than swords” goes the saying. Yet, swords can only wound, while words can also heal, helping people find a settlement of their conflicts. Disagreement is a fact of life and it is not negative per se: disagreeing with someone might be the starting point for learning a new perspective, opening new horizons and even strengthening human relationships. However, if people do not find a “dialogue space” to explain their reasons and talk about their emotions explicitly, disagreement might end up escalating into interpersonal conflict. In such cases, while the original disagreement tends to be forgotten, participants become hostile at a personal level.

Argumentative dialogue can be seen as an alternative to the escalation of conflict. In this book, addressed to formal and informal mediators, teachers, social workers, managers and those of us who have to do with conflict in their life. As the author says in the Preface, this book is dedicated to “those who will not passively accept to lose a relationship with someone, only because they have a different opinion”.

Table of contents:
Presentazione by Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont
Prefazione by Sara Cigada
Premessa
Chapter 1: Conflitto e dialogo: per entrare nel tema
Chapter 2: Il dialogo come strada per la gestione del conflitto
Chapter 3: Capire il conflitto
Chapter 4: Costruire spazi di dialogo: tra comprensione e trasformazione del conflitto
Chapter 5: Emozioni e dialogo ragionevole: il cuore nella risoluzione del conflitto
In conclusione: Un nuovo scudo per Achille?
Postfazione by Michèle Grossen
Bibliografia ragionata plurilingue (e, in conclusione, qualche film per riflettere).

This book is available on the website of the publishing house Maggioli (and other bookstores).

See also Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue 23: Argumentative dialogue, also by Sara Greco, available in Italian, Portuguese, and Russian translations.

De-Westernizing Visual Communication & Cultures

“BookThomas Herdin, Maria Faust, & Guo-Ming Chen (Eds.). (2020). De-Westernizing visual communication and cultures: Perspectives from the Global South. Baden-Baden, Germany: Nomos.

This edited volume gives voice to pluralised avenues from visual communication and cultural studies regarding the Global South and beyond, including examples from China, India, Cambodia, Brazil, Mexico and numerous other countries. Defining visual communication and culture as an umbrella term that encompasses imagery studies, the moving image and non-verbal visual communication, the first three chapters of the book describe de-Westernisation discourse as a way to strengthen emic research and the Global South as both a geographical concept and, even more so, a category of diversity and pluralism. The subsequent regional case study-based chapters draw on various emic theories and methodologies and find a complex arrangement of visuality between sociocultural and sociopolitical practices and institutions. This book targets a wide range of scholars: academics with expertise in (regional) visual studies as well as researchers, students and practitioners working on the Global South and de-Westernisation.

With contributions by Jan Bajec, Sarah Corona Berkin, Ivana Beveridge, Birgit Breninger, Guo-Ming Chen, Uttaran Dutta, Maria Amália Vargas Façanha, Maria Faust, Hiroko Hara, Thomas Herdin, Thomas Kaltenbacher, Fan Liang, Xin Lu, C.S.H.N.Murthy, Ana Karina de Oliveira Nascimento, Simeona Petkova, Radmila Radojevic, Renata Wojtczak.

Penman & Jensen: Making Better Social Worlds

“BookPenman, R., & Jensen, A. (2019). Making Better Social Worlds: Inspirations from the Theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning. Oracle, AZ: CMM Institute Press.

Barnett Pearce invited us all to make better social worlds. Penman and Jensen show us how to begin—how to cross the wide gap between wanting to make a better social world and actually beginning to do so.  – Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz

Making Better Social Worlds: Inspirations from the Theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning is a companion volume to the Cosmopolis2045 website. It serves as a fitting first book from the new CMMi Press. The book offers a clear and comprehensive account of how the theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) can be used to help us rise to the challenges of 21st century life with its political turmoil, social divisiveness and increasing moral bankruptcy. Making Better Social Worlds describes how we create our social worlds in communication, that our relationships with people matter deeply to the quality of our lives and that living with difference enriches us. Readers are offered a new mindset that is relationship-orientated, self-reflexive and morally attuned, along with what it means to engage in joint action, dialogue and cosmopolitan communication, to show how changing our communication practices can bring about social and cultural change.

Kamali-Chirani: Does Intercultural Dialogue Matter?

“BookKamali-Chirani, Fatemeh. (2019).  Does intercultural dialogue matter? The role of intercultural dialogue in the foreign cultural policy of Iran and Germany. Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Fatemeh Kamali-Chirani examines intercultural dialogue as part of the foreign relations between Germany and Iran. She asks: “What role has intercultural dialogue played with regard to the foreign cultural policy of Iran and Germany towards each other, and why?” (p. 18).

Perhaps the most important quote from the book is this, from page 158, because it applies to all contexts, not just Iran-Germany exchanges:

It is necessary but not sufficient to offer dialogue; it is also necessary that the other side accepts to join the dialogue.

Kamali-Chirani first describes the foreign cultural policy of each country, and then presents details of a series of specific organizations and projects intended to further intercultural dialogue. In Iran, the most typical terms are “interfaith dialogue” and “dialogue among civilizations,” whereas Germany often uses “European-Islamic cultural dialogue.” This section is arranged by organization attempting dialogue, populated with quotes from the main actors. She gained remarkable access, up to and including the separate forewords by Mohammad Khatami (former President of Iran, known for promoting dialogue among civilizations as a goal) and Kurt-Jurgen Maas (former Secretary General, Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations).

In the end, Kamali-Chirani concludes that “Intercultural dialogue was an instrument of political goals, not a goal by itself” (p. 198). Her final thought: “participants mostly agree that it was worth the effort, and that they should continue. This author, after spending five years of research on the topic, tends to agree.”

Children’s Picturebooks and Language Hierarchies (New Zealand)

Book NotesDaly, Nicola. (May 31, 2018). How children’s picturebooks can disrupt existing language hierarchiesThe Conversation.

“There are many factors that shape the value we place on different languages. Some languages seem more pleasant to listen to, easier to learn or more logical. These perceptions are generally influenced by our attitudes towards the speakers of a  and the different situations in which the language is spoken.

One reflection of the differential status of languages comes through in bilingual children’s picturebooks. Here I explore how te reo Māori (the indigenous language of New Zealand) is represented and argue that the way languages are displayed in bilingual picturebooks can disrupt the status quo.”