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International Journal of Intercultural Relations 31 (2007) 629632

Book review
Understanding Intercultural Communication, Stella Ting-Toomey. Roxbury Publishing Company, Los Angeles (2005). 420pp., Price: $65.95, Paperback, ISBN13: 9780195330564, ISBN10: 0195330560 In order to teach an introductory undergraduate course in intercultural communication, instructors need more than enthusiasm, personal experiences, and grounding in theory and concepts. To teach such a course effectively, they also need a textbook that mirrors these attributes. For many instructors, Understanding Intercultural Communication is just such a text, providing a well-rounded, solid approach to the topic that speaks to students on multiple levels. This review will rst provide an overall assessment of the text, including its major features. Next, the review will highlight the content of the text, chapter by chapter. Finally, it will share feedback from students using the text and minor areas that could be improved. An introductory textbook in intercultural communication should present the most relevant and well-established aspects of the eld, be organized and paced in a pedagogically effective way, and be written clearly, at an appropriate level for students. It should also include innovative ways to help students connect with the material in an intellectual and personal way. This text effectively accomplishes each of these requirements brilliantly. It follows the communication maxim of know your audience by writing not for other intercultural communication scholars, but rather for students. It can be characterized as a learner-centered, personal text that engages the reader. The pacing and order of topics is appropriate in that the text starts simply and builds gradually in complexity. Chapter outlines at the beginning of each chapter provide both (1) a preview that gives students an overall view of the points of the chapter and a mental picture of how the chapter is organized and (2) a tool for later review and exam preparation. Each chapter ends with Recaps and Checkpoints, that summarize key content and sometimes introduce additional ideas and suggestions related to the content of the chapter. Given that the authors are masterful teachers of intercultural communication, it is not surprising to see the extent to which they demonstrate being in touch with their students in this text. They engage students on the students terms, with numerous examples and references to popular culture, such as lms, television shows, music artists, and recent events of interest. Many of the features of the text accomplish the objective of involving students emotionally, such as Double Take boxes, which include relevant stories or Jeopardy Boxes, which present interesting facts and gures. Know Thyself mini-assessments help students develop awareness of their own culture, while Active Dialogues present realistic interactions that help to make the abstract concepts more concrete.

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Included with the book is an online study guide that is well organized, visually appealing, and useful for students, who can print the chapter outlines and quizzes from the online study guide to aid in their exam preparation. An instructors manual is available in electronic format, and provides detailed outlines, questions for discussion, answers to instructors frequently asked questions on each chapter, and suggested resources. The discussion questions will be particularly helpful for beginning instructors. In my opinion, the most valuable aspect of the instructors manual is the excellent collection of activities to choose from, specic to each chapter. Since most of the activities are interactive and experiential, using or adapting them can add a much-needed dimension to the class. The topics selected for inclusion in this text represent some of the most important concepts, models, and theories in the eld. Each chapter title takes the form of a questiona very effective way to introduce a topic and prepare the mind for learning by encouraging an inquisitive attitude. Chapter 1 begins with the all-important question of why we should study the topic of intercultural communication, including discussion of practical reasons for doing so. The chapter introduces the lens of exible intercultural communication and presents the staircase model (going from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence). Appropriately straighforward, the chapter does not overload students with new ideas or terms at this early stage. The next chapter introduces some of the core concepts of the eld. It denes culture and the iceberg model before presenting a useful denition of intercultural communication, in conjunction with a process model. The description of the model elaborates on each part of the denition of intercultural communication. One of the most interesting, unique, and useful features of Chapter 2 is process consciousness. While most academic study is more concerned with the what than the how, these authors encourage readers to become aware of the many hows relevant to intercultural communication, a focus that is more in line with holistic, associative Eastern thinking than analytical, abstractive Western thinking. Therefore, I believe this framework encourages students to use a different perspective than they may be accustomed to. Such facilitation of cognitive exibility is in itself one of the objectives of the eld, and in terms of pedagogy, it provides balance and comprehensiveness. Chapter 3 introduces cultural value patterns, initially emphasizing individualism/ collectivism and power distance before covering many additional patterns more briey. Since the chapter includes many cultural value patterns, plus the topic of individual socialization, instructors may wish to choose certain additional patterns on which to focus. The Know Thyself boxes are particularly important in this chapter for helping students to become aware of their own cultural value orientations. Chapter 4 discusses cultural and ethnic identities, beginning with socialization and identity formation and continuing through various identity development models. The discussion of intercultural boundary crossing on a permanent basis serves as a good transition from the topic of identity to the topic of culture shock, which appears in the next chapter. In locations where many students are bicultural- or multicultural, instructors may wish to spend more time having students explore their own identities in terms of the models as well as the Know Thyself boxes. Since personal stories are necessary to effectively communicate the experience of culture shock, it is appropriate that Chapter 5 has several such narratives. This chapter examines culture shock in both its affective and cognitive aspects. It also provides details regarding intercultural adjustment models and re-entry shock. The topic of intercultural adjustment

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is accompanied by the vivid personal experiences of a student that really bring the topic to life for readers. Chapter 6 addresses the relationship between language and culture by rst dening both the distinctive features of language and the rules that govern language use. It then discusses several functions of language that illustrate ways in which our language denes and perpetuates our worldviews, thought patterns, and other aspects of our culture. Chapter 7 covers intercultural verbal styles, most prominently differences between highand low-context communication and direct and indirect communication. It presents several dialogues that illustrate the differences quite effectively. The chapter also introduces students to intercultural considerations regarding self-disclosure and persuasion styles. Nonverbal communication is the province of Chapter 8, with sections on the importance and forms of nonverbal communication, followed by boundary regulations. It is replete with examples and pictures that help give the chapter an attitude of playfulness and curiosity appropriate for the topic. Chapter 9 considers bias against outgroups, including stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and racism. It includes an explanation of the role of perception in communication, plus in-depth exploration of ethnocentrism and ingroup/outgroup membership boundaries. The discussion of intercultural conict (Chapter 10) is framed in terms of conict management, highlighting the all-important, but sometimes overlooked, background factors for conict. The chapter then describes a conict style model and asks students to identify their own approach to resolving conict. Finally, it presents some skills and tools for managing conict effectively. The increasingly important topic of intercultural intimate relationships is addressed in Chapter 11, rst through the lens of individualism/collectivism. The chapter then examines those factors that bring people together and those that tear them apart before concluding with a discussion of the best ways of raising bicultural children. Chapter 12 tackles the timely topic of global identity in a rapidly changing world. The authors introduce the term e.neter identity to refer to a new generation of people who, through technology and the Internet, connect with others and experience life in a different way than previous generations. The chapter also explores the intermixing, intermingling inuence of popular culture as transmitted by various communication media, along with the implications for a new global identity. The topic of ethics rounds out the text in Chapter 13, with coverage of ethical positions, including procedures and guidelines for using meta-ethics. The chapter ends with an intercultural discovery path model and ideas for becoming a dynamic global leader, the latter bringing readers back to the starting point of the textexible intercultural communication. The reaction of students in my intercultural communication classes to this text has generally been very positive. Students particularly like the real-life examples, including the Double Take stories that help bring the material to life, in their words. They also appreciate the chapter outlines that preface each chapter. Students describe the text as being both easy to read and challenging, which is, of course, a delicate balance to achieve. In the words of three students:

I like the honesty and real life stories which can be found in each chapter. As college students, we are often inundated with information from textbooks about boring and meticulous topics. This book has the ability to take stories from real people and it is great to hear from people who might be just like me, instead of theorists.

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I like the way the book communicates to the audience, as if in a conversation and less text structured. The information makes sense and makes the reader want to actively engage.

Todays students often exhibit relatively limited attention spans and require much visual stimulation. Students have commented that more visuals, pictures, and color in this text would be helpful. While many visual aids can be incorporated in class, I would agree that more visuals within the text would be useful. Besides assisting students who are primarily visual learners, multiple modes of input can also benet other students. For future editions of Understanding Intercultural Communication, a few additions might be useful. For instance, a discussion of intercultural training would demonstrate some of the effective and vital real-world applications of the eld. Questions for reection or discussion could be helpful, either at the end of each chapter or at the end of particular sections. Such questions might ask students to consider the implications of the information presented and to develop their own understanding of the concepts in the book. Briey describing the history of the eld of intercultural communication could provide helpful background for students in understanding both the larger context of this interdisciplinary perspective and the underlying reasons for many aspects of the eld. Rogers (1994) and Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) demonstrated ways in which analysis of the history of the eld can provide deep insights into its past, present, and future. Such an acknowledgement of the importance of history could also introduce to students the idea that, in order to understand a particular cultural group thoroughly, an understanding of that groups history is essential. In summary, if our goal as instructors of intercultural communication is not to simply present material, but to inspire students to learn, Understanding Intercultural Communication helps us accomplish our goal in a number of ways. The text (1) connects with students on their terms, (2) invites them to engage the material on cognitive and affective levels, (3) encourages them to seek out new learning and new experiences, (4) emphasizes not only concepts, but also their application, and (5) provides guidance and encouragement in developing and using open-mindedness, mindfulness, and exibility. For these reasons, I strongly recommend this textbook for teaching undergraduate intercultural communication courses. References
Rogers, E. M. (1994). A history of communication study: A biographical approach. New York: Free Press. Rogers, E. M., & Steinfatt, T. M. (1999). Intercultural communication. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Christopher Deal Deal Intercultural, Burbank, CA 91506, USA E-mail address: