‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #5

In one of our first shows we asked the question: Can culture be taught? And apparently that struck a chord with many of you. We’ve been asked to follow that question up, and that is what we are going to do today.

We have two stimulating interviews with Elen Rana and Audrey Fernandez-Diehl, who give courses and seminars in intercultural communication. They will tell us their opinions and share some intercultural activities with us, which can be used to raise cultural awareness.

Right after that we talk about Geert Hofstede’s concept “Culture as the software of the mind”. It is amazing how many parallels there are between two seemingly so different things. We’ll have some more insights on that in our next shows, and we invite you to join the discussion by leaving a comment on our blog or sending us an email or an audiocomment.

We also have a new jingle, and we’d like to know how you like it. Would you like to hear your voice in it? Well, then please let us know.

By the way, this show is with 28 minutes a bit longer then the ones before, but it really is worth taking the time to listen to it.

The Host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Chief Editor: Berit Wiebe


7 thoughts on “‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #5”

  1. I would recommend the book _The Nurture Assumption_ by Judith Rich Harris. It has a detailed and supported argument on how the cultural values, goals, learning styles, and behaviours are transmitted by your peer group, not your parents.

    I believe we are born with templates for cultural ideas, language, and religious ideas. We fill in those templates based on what we learn from our peer group. The peer group gets its information from the next higher group: the older kids, and it continues on.

    Thanks for a great podcast! Bring us together!


  2. Hi Lon,
    thanks for your comment and for putting your pin on our frappr map!

    I think what you said about templates for cultural ideas is really interesting. And I read out of it that there can be many templates within one head. Let me see if I’m right…

    I had a discussion with my girlfriend the other day about languages and how easy or hard it is to learn one. She is studying to become a speechtherapist, so she knows a lot about how babys, children and adults learn languages.
    Besides the fact that it is much easier for little children (somewhat until the age of 4) to learn languages then it is for older children or adults, we also talked about the “coolness” or acceptance of languages within different cultures.

    I think in every culture, and to some extent in every country, there are foreign languages that are culturally more excepted then others.

    Maybe we could call this a template that is formed and shaped by the respective culture we grew up and/or life in and that makes it easy to learn certain languages while it is much harder to learn another one.

    Well, just a thought…

    Yours interculturally. 🙂


  3. Noam Chomsky posits for a universal grammar and his protegee Steven Pinker posits that language is instinctual. I would have to say that like them that culture and language are both something that is instinctual and learned. So Hofstede’s indication that culture is the software of the mind and Lon’s indication that culture is a template are both correct; however, we cannot forget how important our family and parents are in the start of this programming of our language and culture use.

    Pinker posits that we learn language through hypothesis testing and our first interaction with other individuals is through our parents. Our parents reward the correct language utterances as they will reward correct cultural behavior. They, in essence, provide the template that we are using with the hardware (cognitive complexity) we have at our disposal. And yes, we are further refined by our peer groups and the social networks that we interact with. Our hypothesis testing never stops as we continue to test what behaviors are appropriate in certain circumstances.

    The building blocks of a culture can be learned; however, in order to have intercultural communication competence we must have the motivation and desire to learn about other cultures. And the most important factor, is our ability to practice those skill through interactions.

    Just a few quick thoughts. Thanks for the great podcast and throwing in the theoretical aspect.

  4. I really enjoyed the last show of Absolutely Intercultural, especially the part where you talk about “culture as the software of the mind”. I haven’t heard of this concept before and I find this really interesting.

    You’ve talked about updates, and I think we had a few of them in the past years. I’m from Germany, and what comes to my mind is for example the Reunification or our new currency, the Euro.
    I think those examples make it very clear that some people, or systems, are incompatible with those updates. They keep thinking in the old structures while everything around them has changed.

    I’m looking forward to your next show and the second part of your discussion.

  5. This is to let you know about a little project we undertook in Madrid as a result of this podcast. My students were among the first to post after your first programme from Leon about tapas and siestas. They were pleased to hear their comments read out on the second show, and were inspired to produce some video podcasts about life in Spain of their own as a result. They would be thrilled if you could please take a minute to drop by and have a look. BTW – this is the third time I’ve tried to post this comment (fingers crossed it will work this time).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *