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Cultural Competence Program - Modules 5 & 6: Cross-cultural Communication (ATOM Study Guide)

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The Cultural Competence Program (CCP) is an online training course aimed at building capability around cultural diversity. It features engaging multimedia learning modules and a wealth of resources. Whilst it is primarily aimed at building capability around cultural diversity in the workplace, secondary school students will benefit from undertaking the course in terms of increasing their own understanding of cultural diversity in Australia. The CCP for individuals is available as an app for tablets and mobile devices. The program builds capability around cultural diversity, and participants will gain practical skills and cultural specific knowledge for use both at work and in everyday life. Topics covered include:

  • Diversity Works – the business case for investing in diversity
  • Cultural Differences and Similarities
  • Core Inclusion Skills
  • Unconscious Bias
  • Cross-Cultural Communication (two modules)
  • Cultural Adaptation
  • Australia by the Numbers

The CCP provides a solid foundation in understanding what culture, diversity, inclusion and cultural competence mean. There are over sixty animations and films, including real people telling real stories. Also included are fun, interactive activities, plus options for further reading. Working alongside the CCP, the Cultural Atlas is a supplementary resource designed to inform and educate in relation to cross-cultural attitudes, practices, norms, behaviours and communications. The Cultural Atlas is a large-scale online resource providing information about a range of cultures in Australia including:

  • Core Concepts – cultural values
  • Etiquette, Do's and Do Not's
  • Greetings and Communication
  • Religion
  • Demographic Statistics
  • Business Culture

Curriculum Links:

There are eight modules (and one summary module) within the CCP. The activities in this series of study guides are tailored to work with each specific module. Teachers may work through the modules in sequential order or choose to work with individual modules that best suit their curriculum needs. The Australian National Curriculum has been used as a guide for the basis of these activities. Teachers are advised to select and adapt the activities to suit the student age and stage of their class, and the curriculum foci and outcomes used in specific schools. The activities are also suitable for use in pastoral care and student wellbeing programs. The CCP and Cultural Atlas can be used in relation to the following subject areas of the Australian National Curriculum:

  • Years 7–10 Civics and Citizenship
  • Years 7–10 English
  • Years 7–10 Health and Physical Education
  • Year 10 History
  • Years 7–10 Media Arts

In addition, the CCP and Cultural Atlas relate to the following General Capabilities within the Australian National Curriculum:

  • Personality and Social Capability
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Intercultural Understanding

Accompanying videos:

  • Stories: Greetings Across Cultures – Excerpts from interviews, where different forms of greetings are discussed by people from different cultures.
  • Greetings – Things to consider when greeting someone from a different culture.
  • Stories: Cultural Values – Interviewees give some insights into different cultural values.
  • Cultural Dimensions #1 – This video introduces 'dimensions of culture' – ways in which commonalities and differences can be compared between different cultures. Geert Hofstede's work in this area is highly regarded, and is explored (the following dimensions are discussed here: individualism-collectivism and masculinity-femininity).
  • Stories: Cultural Dimensions – Interviewees recount some examples where cultural dimensions can be observed in real-life situations.
  • Cultural Dimensions #2 – More of Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions are explored, with specific countries used to illustrate the cultures who exhibit each dimension (this video highlights the following dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance and long term orientation).
  • Stories: Face – Excerpts from interviews, where the concept of 'face' is discussed by people from different cultures.
  • The Concept of Face – What is 'face'? An interesting look into this sometimes complicated concept and how it is related to showing respect.
  • How We Say It – Tips from interviewees on how to be understood when communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Written and Verbal Expressions – A look at how a message is delivered can influence how it is received and interpreted. Rate, tone and volume of speech, choice of words, accents and slang can all impact spoken communication.
  • Culture and Communication Styles – Some interesting stories from interviewees about the nuances that can arise with cross-cultural communication.
  • Communication Styles – Each culture has developed its own set of rules for conversations. This video explores how these rules differ across cultures.
  • Understanding What is Not Said – Excerpts from interviews, illustrating the importance of non-verbal communication etiquette.
  • Non-verbal Communication – Body language can be interpreted differently across cultures. This video looks at the appropriateness of some specific actions and gestures.
  • Environment and Object Language – An interviewee gives examples of how seating positions at meetings or gatherings can be important in some cultures.
  • Environment and Object Communication – This video looks at the differences between cultures with reference to objects (e.g. clothing, symbols, artefacts) and social environment (e.g. workplace layout and seating).
  • Translators and Interpreters – Experts give firsthand experience of the complexities of translating or interpreting.
  • Using Translators and Interpreters – This video defines translating and interpreting, and how to go about engaging an organisation who provides these service. A 'to-do' list also provides key points to note when an interpreter is involve in a conversation.
  • Summary – A summary of all the Cross-cultural Communication content, including the many ways cultures can vary in their communication styles, and some tips on how to have successful conversations with people from different cultures.

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