Do cross-cultural connections matter?
By Charlotte Leonetti
In today’s world of globalization, understanding cultural differences has become of vital importance to every organization, whether it be a school, a business, or in your own personal life. In today's increasingly interconnected world, modern means of communication such as social networks and video conferencing mean that we see cultural connections like we never have before and at a higher frequency.
A TEFL certification can be a great way to get experience working within and across other cultures and learning how to manage the challenges of doing so. As the world becomes more connected, this experience can prepare you for many careers. Simply put, the practice in communicating effectively and positively with others from another culture to create change (in the case of TEFL, the change would be learning English) is a skill that almost anyone can put to his or her advantage.
In business, cultural sensitivity and maintaining a good relationship is vital when managing a deal. Understanding differences between your own cultural and an unfamiliar one can make or break a business deal. Effective communication is key to any organization’s success, and so an appreciation and awareness of different cultures is also of great importance in maintaining a professional environment in the workplace. Organizations today, no matter what kind of organization it is, are a mix of people from different cultural backgrounds who have to understand each other, interact on a daily basis. Therefore, being able to interact with people from different backgrounds and countries is extremely important.
Understanding different people’s cultural norms and traditions is crucial when trying to communicate in a correct and appropriate manner. A TEFL course focuses on making sure you understand how to relate the material you are teaching to the culture of your students and adapt to their cultural norms so that you can be respectful while also making sure they learn the material - so it’s perfect practice!
With globalization in full swing, there’s a good chance you’ll be working with, studying with, and living among people whose first language is not the English language. Showing sensitivity to cultural differences and being aware of cultures that are unlike your own will help enrich and develop your relationships, whether you’re dealing with clients, customers or colleagues.
The experience you will get teaching abroad and being TEFL certified will demonstrate your cultural competence. The TEFL Certificate curriculum covers the following areas when it comes to cultural sensitivity: surface and deep culture, the five barriers to cross-cultural communication, four main cultural dimensions and their implications for the EFL classroom, and culture shock and its stages.
In any field, demonstrating your experience navigating, understanding, and thriving in other cultures apart from your own is of the utmost importance. Living and work abroad in another country is an experience that will certainly set you on the right path of pursuing a career in the field of your choice.
In addition to your cultural competence, working cross culturally emphasizes teamwork, communication, adaptability and global thinking skills. These are all qualities necessary for working with other cultures in any field, be it in a business, non-profit organization, government, or education setting.
Lastly, cross cultural connections matter in order to find out what you are interested in and are important when finding out more about yourself. In making these connections, you are also discovering new activities, art, languages, dances, sports, cooking, and much more. You also may start to explore what aspects of your behavior and personality you thought were naturally part of you but may in fact be mostly from cultural influence - it can be very interesting! As a result of all of these interactions, you are able to find new things that you are passionate about and can bring back to your culture as well.
Blogger Charlotte Leonetti has traveled abroad on service trips numerous times and has completed her TEFL certification so that she can better tutor English to students from around the world. Charlotte grew up speaking French & English and knows the importance of learning more than one language. She has spent the last four years learning Mandarin, so she is particularly attuned to the struggles of studying a new language and the value that a great language teacher can offer. Charlotte's website can be found here: www.charlotteleonettiwrites.com/