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Cultural Awareness: Intercultural Approach

What is intercultural approach?

An intercultural approach is where people of different cultures have engaging interactions with each other. They develop strong relationships through the sharing of ideas and values and show mutual respect and understanding. 

In an intercultural society, no one is left unchanged because everyone learns from one another and grows together.

It is more than just learning about another culture, it’s about identifying your own cultural values, understanding how these may be different to other people and appreciating these differences. 

International Education Services 2018, The Cultural Atlasviewed 17 March 2021,

The cultural iceberg

British Columbia GCPE BCGov 2016, Cultural IcebergYouTube, viewed 17 March 2021. Copied and communicated under YouTube Standard License.

The steps in an intercultural approach

Flow chart: (1) Admit uncertainty, (2) Challenge assumptions, (3) Practice empathy, (4) Embrace diversity.

1. Admit uncertainty. You are not going to know everything about every culture you will come across. Identify areas of uncertainty and be honest with yourself and the other person if need be.

2. Challenge assumptions. Be aware of your own culture. Everyone has a culture, everyone has values and associated behaviours that is accepted and familiar in their own lives. Challenge your own values and also the values you perceive others to hold.

3. Practice empathy. Suspend any criticism or judgment. Try to understand the other person on their terms. What are the underlying values that drive their behaviour?

4. Embrace diversity. Embrace each other’s differences. Be curious and be willing to ask and learn from a place of respect.

© Melbourne Polytechnic 2018

Barbara Reekman talks about being curious and learning about other peoples culture.


Students know that they have a culture but they may not understand precisely how this influences their behaviour and their thinking. Their culture is so much part of them that it controls them at a subconscious level. We must be careful that we don’t punish students for holding the values they have been taught to hold all their lives.

As Barbara Reekman discusses in the video to the left, it's important to create a learning environment where cultural differences can be openly discussed.