Online course in Business & Management

Intercultural Communication

Learn to appreciate, adjust to, and work or study in different cultures, with this free online intercultural communication course.

  • Duration 5 weeks
  • Weekly study 4 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $69 Find out more

Why join the course?

Whether you’re engaging in business across borders or cultural regions, meeting other people through international travel, working in a diverse, global organisation or studying abroad, you can benefit from a better understanding of intercultural communication.

This course will focus on the basic but important concepts. It will:

  • help you better understand cross-cultural complexity;
  • cultivate your awareness of your own and others’ cultural identities;
  • highlight some notable variations in communication styles and cultural values;
  • and signpost paths towards building your intercultural competence.

The understanding and appreciation of cultural differences that you gain will help you adjust to the new cultural practices that come into your life - whether via the media or through interpersonal interactions.

You will learn with a cross-cultural team from Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), since its inception in 1949 which has become a leader in language and culture teaching.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to the course and field, potential learning objectives, and leading definitions of what constitutes “intercultural communication”.
  • Exploration of story narratives, metaphors, and meanings related to interculturality.
  • Analysis of situated cases to identify sources of intercultural misunderstanding.
  • Benefits of intercultural applications to personal life, business and education.
  • Variations in personal, social, and cultural identity, and cultivate greater awareness and sensitivity to one’s own and other’s cultural identities.
  • Exposure to and appreciation of cross-cultural complexity through the social learning engagement of this international community.
  • Social perceptions of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination related to intergroup contact.
  • Variations and perceptions of typical communication behaviors or practices and taxonomies for understanding context, space, time and other contextual factors (Hi-low Context, Proxemics, Monochronic-Polychronic, Silence).
  • Exposure to and application of leading values frameworks and levels of analysis that undergird cultural assumptions, expectations, and behaviors (from Hall, Hofstede, Schwartz, the WVS).
  • Experiential descriptions of culture shock and coping dynamics, adaptation processes, and growth outcomes in cross-cultural transitions.
  • Reflection on complex cases, other’s comments, and replies to enhance mindful observation, analysis, and understanding toward cultivating intercultural competence.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify the importance of learning intercultural communication
  • Describe the composition and significance of your cultural identities
  • Compare cultural assumptions of your own and others
  • Identify cultural variations in communication styles
  • Classify some major cultural values underlying different behaviors
  • Apply these for adaptation in intercultural interactions more confidently and resourcefully

Who is the course for?

This course assumes no prior knowledge and is suitable for pre-university, undergraduate and post-experience students. You will need high school-level English or above, an interest in international issues, and curiosity about, exposure to or experience with other cultures.

We will start with a journey of self-discovery, telling each other our cultural stories and exploring different cultures. You will be amazed to see how cultures have influenced our perceptions, thinking, communication styles, values and beliefs.

What do people say about this course?

Thank you very much for this well-structured and informative course! Step by step I gained some knowledge and experience in intercultural communication. During the discussion sessions of some intercultural problems, I've found interesting posts with the information how to communicate with other cultures and avoid misunderstandings.

Maria Komissarova

Who will you learn with?

Steve Kulich

Steve Kulich

Welcome! As founder of the SISU Intercultural Institute, MA, PhD and MBA IC Programs at Shanghai Int'l Studies Univ and President-Elect of IAIR, I'm eager to learn with you on this IC journey!

Hongling Zhang

Hongling Zhang

Professor and Deputy Director of the Intercultural Institute of Shanghai International Studies University. Director of Office for International Cooperation and Exchange, SISU.

Ruobing Chi

Ruobing Chi

Teacher and researcher at the Intercultural Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.

Who developed the course?

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), established in 1949, is one of the earliest institutions where China’s higher education in foreign languages took shape.

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