Chinese international students (i.e., China and Taiwan) represent the largest group and nearly 25 percent of the entire international student population (723,277) in the United States (U.S.) (IIE, Open Doors 2011). Many of these students, however, encounter more difficulties in intercultural communication with Native English Speakers (NESs) than in other factors such as language deficiency and academic performance (Liu, 2004; Gareis, 2012; Xiao & Petraki, 2007). Researchers (Alim, 2010; Banks, 2004; Hofstede & Bode, 1987; Nieto & Bode, 2008; Richards, 1982; Scollon & Scollon, 2000; Yum, 1988) have analyzed intercultural studies and multi-cultural education. Few studies, in contrast, have examined intercultural communication (Hinnenkamp, 2009), especially Chinese English-as a-Second-Language (ESL) speakers' intercultural perceptions and challenges in sociolinguistic communication with NESs. The purpose of this narrative research study aimed to explore Chinese ESL speakers‘ intercultural perceptions and challenges in sociolinguistic communication with NESs in a university setting in the United States. Semi-structured interviews (16 one-on-one and one focus-group interviews), along with document collections, were conducted. Five themes emerged from the data. The first theme indicated that participants sustained their Chinese cultural values but adapted some NESs‘ ways of expression. Theme Two showed that participants perceived NESs‘ individualistic cultural values but judged NESs based on their inherent values. Theme Three then inferred that Chinese ESL speakers had to compromise by speaking for themselves otherwise NESs seldom understood their inner feelings. Theme Four revealed that Chinese ESL speakers‘ sociocultural competence played an integral role to effectively communicate with NESs. Last, Theme Five pointed out that Chinese ESL speakers with Chinese cultural value orientation experienced more challenges when communicating with NESs than Chinese ESL speakers with Western culture orientation. Significantly, the study facilitates Chinese ESL speakers‘ intercultural communication with NESs, who then gain insights into Chinese ESL speakers‘ cultural values used in verbal intercultural interactions. More importantly, the findings contribute to multicultural education, especially equality, by first thoroughly examining Chinese ESL speakers‘ intercultural perceptions and challenges in sociolinguistic communication with NESs.
July 13, 2015
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