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The Importance of Intercultural Communications

By Kristin Micheletti, Internal Operations Coordinator, Fall 2019

Nearly 50% of residents in five of the United States’ largest cities- New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix- speak another language than English at home. Roughly 50% of the global human population is bilingual


Why are these facts significant? They prove that we live in a globalized world full of people with complex and diverse identities. 

More people travel internationally, more students study abroad, and globally more people speak more than one language. Despite the resistance from some world leaders, globalization is a force that will only increase, and the communications industry must adapt to it. The push for competency in intercultural communications must start in the classroom.

As a Communication Studies and International Studies double major, only one course was offered that counted for both degrees- Intercultural Communications. This course is a stepping stone to the path of global communications, but students in the communications field should consider taking more classes based in a global frame. 

Most of the top PR firms in Chicago consider themselves a global business, and many do have offices in multiple different countries. 


With a global network like this, both employees and clients come from varying cultures and countries. To produce better client work for a potential international client, employees should have at the very minimum some training in intercultural communications. Understanding which hand gestures are inappropriate, for example, is only the bare minimum. Awareness of personal space, the volume of one’s voice, and time management are all examples that intercultural communications can manifest. 

For students pursuing a career in any type of communications-related field, here are some helpful tips to increase your intercultural communications competency:


  • Take foreign languages beyond the required minimum so you become proficient in a second language

  • Enroll in some international-based class, such as global advertising and public relations

  • Study abroad at some point in college

  • Follow trends and studies about intercultural communications like this one

College is a time to immerse ourselves in new opportunities and meet new people. All of these examples listed above are ways to make yourself more employable when you approach the job-finding process and are increasingly accessible to you as a college student. 

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