Eliminating Non-Verbal Communication Challenges Across Cultures


In the current age of rapid urbanization and global connectivity, the English language has grown so fast, crossing international borders and eventually becoming universal. From the time the language received official recognition, its roots have inevitably spread deeper into diverse cultural settings. The need for intercultural competence and increased civilization exerted unprecedented pressure on different ethnic groups to adopt English as a common denominator for daily communication. According to Méndez García, an English teacher in a non-English-based country should have intercultural awareness to bridge the potential gap between disparities in the culture of students. In addition, the teacher must apply his prowess to eliminate non-verbal communication challenges by ensuring students comprehend their own culture while appreciating the ethnic diversity of their schoolmates. The significance of intercultural awareness as an English teacher in general and its contributions towards eliminating kinesics challenges across ethnicities form the basis of discussion for this paper.

Development of Proposed Questions

Intercultural competence is defined as the potency of a person to maintain rational action, thought, and belief patterns despite the change in environment. On the contrary, non-verbal communication incorporates paralanguage elements of speech used to change the meaning and express emotions of the speaker as defined by (Tietze & Piekkari, 2020). They entail subsets such as tonality, intonation, pitch, and volume. In the modern world, where cities and learning institutions have become cosmopolitan, the relevance of interracial awareness and non-lingual communication cannot is critical. The increased interconnectivity of people prompts the need to emphasize the importance of the fore-cited elements. According to (Rocha & Freitas, 2022), intercultural competence is relevant to an English teacher when combating nonverbal communication challenges, especially during interactions with students from different cultural settings.

For example, a teacher in Spain is obliged to have rich cultural knowledge and blend into the ethnic diversity of the students since he is in a foreign cultural context. The teacher’s perceptions when interacting with learners should reflect beyond the surface norms and beliefs because these components are only the tip of the massive iceberg as emphasized by (Dumitraşcu-Băldău & Dumitraşcu, 2019). He should be able to tap into the deep societal proponents in the new environment that entails his current language styles and existential virtues as discussed in the section below.

The Iceberg Analogy

This phenomenon symbolically delineates processes regarding human social interactions and experiences of life. The model portrays culture as a piece of iceberg; whereby the minor tip represents visible external culture characterized by quick dynamism, ease of learning as well as involuntary control. The top forms an aggregate of ten percent encompassing basic life fundamentals such as food, artworks, clothing, language, and social events like celebrations and games. As cited by (Tsareva, Gulnaz & Murtazina, 2020), the remaining 90% is double-faceted and represents shallow and deep cultural aspects. When the two wide segments are classified further, features like communication styles, beliefs, values, attitudes, and perceptions are derived. Additionally, aspects of courtesy, body language, attitude towards elders, personal hygiene, and tolerance of physical pain are all blended in this segment. A clear understanding of these cultural dimensions can help in eliminating hurdles encountered during non-verbal communication among students from different ethnic topologies in school.

Challenges facing Non-Verbal Communication across Cultures

Although intercultural competence promotes better understanding among individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, some barriers have continued to limit the free exchange of information in society. These obstacles occur under different circumstances including the school setting. Some of them are; misunderstanding and lack of clarity in communication which is a result of unclear nonverbal cues like gestures. According to (Bakun et al., 2019), certain expressions and signs may convey different meanings to different cultural groups, thus hindering effective communication across these cohorts. Author (Khaydarova, 2021) explains further that teachers should learn a reasonable proportion of paralinguistic from the foreign language to overcome such predicaments. In addition, the facilitator must comprehend theories and concepts upon which the language is built for better teacher-student interaction within and outside school. Some of the theories that form the foundation of different languages have been highlighted in the section below.

Evidence of Participant’s Understanding of Intercultural Competence Concepts

Many empirical research studies have been documented in the wake of intercultural awareness. It is through these prior studies that an English teacher emphasizes upholding the correlation and direct relationship between the language being taught and the culture surrounding his or her students. Authors (Hesan, Munir & Setiawan, 2019) highlight that the interdependence between local and foreign communication contexts has been echoed by several conceptual frameworks. These postulations include but are not limited to the socio-cultural conjecture, Schema hypothesis, Whorf’s model, and the Semiotic rubric.

There is a distinct plethora of articulation, morphological characteristics, vocabulary, and articulation that is determined by the situations surrounding the speakers. According to (Purnell, 2018, several non-verbal cues accompany spoken English, all of which are form the basis of the aforementioned theories. These language facets range from tonal variations, and facial expressions to gestures as cited by (Ratnasari, 2018) and tend to occur involuntarily. In most cases, they are usually developed and nurtured outside the traditional classroom setting and therefore represent the true message of the communicator.


Throughout this paper, it is evident that the role of inter-ethnic competence in teaching English and surpassing kinetics barriers cannot be underestimated. In that regard, a teacher in this niche would opinionate on the necessity to reinforce intercultural competence among learners to promote cohesion, peaceful coexistence, and harmony within the school context and beyond. The idea of intercultural communicative teaching can be achieved through the formulation of instructional engagement templates by English teachers to supplement their classes with interethnic knowledge. Similarly, the facilitator can blend the pre-existing intercultural rubrics in teaching sessions to test their efficacy in eliminating nonverbal communication barriers among students. Teachers can set aside time to discuss cultural aspects with their learners and tailor their sessions on transforming learners’ beliefs regarding the existence of defined cultural polarities among them despite the rigidity of school curriculums.


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