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The Role of Intercultural Awareness in Intercultural Communication: A Case Study of English Student Trainees at a Thai Airport

Phithakphongphan, Theethat (2020) The Role of Intercultural Awareness in Intercultural Communication: A Case Study of English Student Trainees at a Thai Airport. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

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Abstract

In English as a lingua franca (ELF) contexts, such as Thailand, many previous studies have focused on the importance of English in intercultural communication of students in higher education, while the role of intercultural awareness (ICA) has not been paid enough attention. In fact, when intercultural communication takes place, language and culture interact. To shed light on ICA and the complexity of culture, this study sought to investigate the role of ICA in intercultural communication through English.

Adopting interpretivism, this phenomenological study relied on a qualitative approach to understand the role of ICA through participants’ experiences in intercultural communication. This resulted in the formulation of research questions aiming to explore the extent of participants’ ICA and identify their communication challenges and associated strategies in intercultural communication. To collect in-depth data, the semi-structured individual interview was employed as a main research instrument. Twelve Thai university students majoring in English who worked as student trainees for the airlines at a Thai airport were selected as participants. Thematic analysis was utilised to organise data while interpretive analysis was employed to interpret data.

The findings revealed that ICA not only played a role in participants’ perceptions towards cultural challenges but also had impacts on their employment of associated strategies in dealing with those challenges. They illustrated the complex relationship between ICA, communication challenges, and associated strategies since participants brought different cultural realities into their intercultural encounters. This confirms the fluid and emergent nature of culture. The findings also suggest useful abilities, namely the ability to control emotions and the ability to forgive, needed by participants in dealing with cultural challenges for successful intercultural communication through English in ELF contexts. This study, therefore, contributes to the understanding of culture and the significance of ICA in intercultural communication in both educational and occupational contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Published
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4878

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