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SPH 123 - Intercultural Communication

Professor Marlene Cohen 



Dear Student:

Welcome to the Weekend College of Prince George's Community College and to our unique Distance Learning section course in Intercultural Communication.  I am looking forward to working with you in this course, one that applies interpersonal communication issues to the cultural differences we face in interacting every day.  My hope is that your learning experience in this class will contribute in significant ways in your greater satisfaction with yourself and your relationships with others in your life.  I believe that you will find that the more you put into the class, the more you will gain personally from it.  Our cross-state connections will provide a fantastic learning experience for us all!  Even within our state of Maryland, we have many different cultural influences to explore.

Our class will meet on Fridays from 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm and Saturdays from 8:15 am - 5:30 pm on the weekends of October 15 - 16, 29 - 30 , November 12 - 13.   YES, that is the equivalent hours of a full semester course.  You MUST be available all three weekends to obtain credit for this class.  DO NOT remain in the class if you cannot attend all six days we will meet.

We will meet in Accokeek 302 at P.G.C.C., the Bell Atlantic Teleclassroom, as well as in the Bell Atlantic classrooms at your home community college in Maryland!  Students won’t need to switch locations; we will all work together live on video.

Weekend courses are great for getting immersed in the subject, but they require good time-planning on your part.  Because our time together is short, I am asking that you do some reading and writing BEFORE the first day of class, BEFORE each weekend session.  See below for specific assignments. 

Before the first class you will need to purchase and read from three required textbooks articles related to our first week’s topic, male-female communication.  All required books for this course are now on the shelves at your college bookstore, as is the recommended one.  IF YOU WISH TO ORDER BOOKS via phone or fax, you may do so.  Call the Prince George’s Community College Bookstore at (301) 322-0912 for more details.  Their fax number is (301) 499-1226.

There are some great books and articles written on our subjects.  Reading the pages indicated for each upcoming weekend will be essential to prepare you for the discussion and activities we will be doing in class.  Specific reading assignments are indicated on the attached class schedule.

The texts for the upcoming weekends are as follows:
  Intercultural Communication: A Reader, Samovar and Porter
    8th Edition, 1997, Wadsworth
  Communication between Cultures, Samovar, Porter and Stefani
   3rd Edition, 1998, Wadsworth 
  You Just Don't Understand, Deborah Tannen, 1990, Ballantine 
Additional recommended resource for interracial: 
 African-American Communication, Hecht, Collier and Ribeau, 1993, Sage 

I also am requesting that you bring two things to class on our first night, October 15.
The first is a list of 5-6 family messages you can recall from childhood.  These would be bits of advice or proverbs or comments on the way of the world which you recall hearing repeated to you.  Consider if there are gender implications to these statements.  Were your brothers and sisters given the same or difference bits of advice or knowledge? 
Second, please bring one artifact or item from your childhood that you have kept.  Be prepared to share why it is important to you.  Consider whether it also has some cultural messages for you. 

Major requirements for credit students:
 - one key-concept paper each weekend (3 total)
 - one final research project on a cultural communication issue of particular interest to you
 - a final day report on that project

There will be no tests in this class.  So, instead of tests, understand that each week’s paper must reflect what you have learned from the assigned readings; tying in other things you have read is much less important.  And your participation in class is your test as to your knowledge and understanding of the materials.  Please discuss the focus of your final project with me before you begin work on it. The grade calculations are indicated below.

Because the weekend class moves at an accelerated pace, there will be very limited time to develop and strengthen writing skills.  This course is based on the assumption that you are able to write efficiently and effectively.  If your writing skills are weak, or if you have limited experience with college level writing, consider choosing the 15-week option for the course.

A word about classroom climate...we will NOT engage in anyone-bashing in this course.  I will ask your assistance in voicing and listening to issues and concerns in a supportive way.  A class objective is to improve understanding and further open channels of communication, not close them off.

I look forward to meeting you and sharing our perspectives on these important topics.  If I may be of assistance before our first session, please call me on campus at (301) 322-0177 or email me at mc2@pgstumail.pgcc.edu.  There is a 24-hour voice mail, so please leave a message any time and I will return your call.  I check messages every day or two.


** Note:  I suspect the number of readings may seem intimidating.  Keep in mind you are reading to gather information, to identify key issues for yourself.  Underline or take notes on those key points.  You will not be tested over the materials; there is nothing to memorize.  Instead you will write based on the readings.

You will be asked to discuss readings in class.


Communication Between Cultures, Samovar and Porter
Chapters 1 and 2 and pp. 142-144

Intercultural Communication, Samovar and Porter
Collier, pp. 36-44
Wood, pp. 164-174
Andersen, pp. 250-251 only
Stefani et.al.., pp.310-311 only

You Just Don't Understand, Tannen
Chapters 1, 2, and 3, 8, 10


Intercultural Communication, Samovar and Porter
Martin, pp. 54-63
Janzen, pp. 63-70
Ribeau, Baldwin & Hecht, pp. 147-154
Orbe, pp.227-234

Communication Between Cultures, Samovar and Porter
Chapters 4, 5, 6

 African American Communication: Ethnic Identity and Cultural Interpretation, Hecht, Collier & Ribeau
Introduction, pp. 1-7, section of Chapter 3

I will provide copies of the following:

"White Privilege:  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," McIntosh

"When Black Women Talk with White Women: Why Dialogues are Difficult," Houston

Excerpts from South of Haunted Dreams: A Ride Through Slavery's Old Backyard, Harris

“The Need To Be: The Socio-Cultural Significance of Black Language,” Weber

Others are possible


Intercultural Communication, Samovar and Porter
Yum, pp. 78-88
Anderson, J., pp. 98-107
Hall, pp. 45-54
Hall, pp. 277-283
Andersen, P., pp. 244-256
Barna, pp.  370-379
Spitzberg et.al., p. 388 chart ONLY
Ting-Toomey, pp. 392-404
Stefani, Samovar and Hellweg, pp. 307-317
Kim, pp. 434-447

Communication Between Cultures, Samovar and Porter
Chapters 3, 10

You Just Don't Understand, Tannen, pp. 201-210


Key-concept paper #1  15%
Key-concept paper #2  15%
Key-concept paper #3  15%
Final Project    20%
Report of Final Project  10%
Class participation   15%
 Attendance              10% 
TOTAL                       100%


One paper for each unit - I. Male-female, II. Interracial/interethnic, and III. International.
All credit students are asked to write a 750-1250 word paper (that's about 3-5 typewritten pages) on two (2) concepts that seemed important to you as you read each weekend’s materials.  Thus, you have three key-concepts papers.   Each paper discusses two separate concepts. 

For each of the two concepts you choose, please write providing the following steps:

1.  What is the concept, the issue?  Select something specific, not as broad as language, for example, but something about language.  Explain the point briefly in your own words.

2.  Quote word for word 2-3 points from the assigned readings that tell about that same concept.  Tell which book, the author (of the article or book, not the editor)  and the page where the quote is found.  NOTE: You need to use at least two different readings for the week.

3.  Summarize what new perceptions or ideas these quotes tell you.

4.  Make some application to your own life.  In what way could this be useful to you, at home, at work, or in a particular relationship?

Answer 1 - 4 for concept A, then 1 - 4 for concept B.  Papers are due on the Wednesday following each weekend class.  I would prefer you turn them in at the Saturday class; that way, you can be working toward the next weekend instead of working on past topics.  Feel free to complete the first paper before our first class. 

So, the key-concept paper on male-female communication is due to my mailbox, Queen Anne Fine Arts Building, no later than Wednesday, October 20 at 8:00 pm.  My mailbox is in the hall opposite the Speech Communication and Theatre main office, Queen Anne 113.  The building is open 8:00 am to 9:00 pm during the week and 9-5 on Saturdays too.  Or papers can be faxed to Queen Anne Room 113 at (301) 386-7511.  The phone number in that office, if you have faxing problems, is (301) 322-0926.  The secretary is Lorna Redding.  BE SURE TO WRITE “MARLENE COHEN” and have your name and telephone number on any fax or materials you leave for me.  If you have any questions about your writing, feel free to call me before class.

If you turn papers in in advance, you may also attach an 8 ½ x 11 envelope addressed to you, with 3 stamps on it, if you wish to receive the paper and comments back by mail instead of waiting until the next class.


As you read your materials for class, be thinking of a topic related to intercultural communication which you would like to be your specialty.  Talk with me about your particular interest; let me assist you in broadening, or narrowing, or finding resources.

On this topic, you will be asked to provide a two-part paper, 1500-2000 words (approximately 6-8 typewritten pages).
Part I will be your research on the topic, using both assigned class readings and additional research from journals, magazines, books and interviews with experts.  A minimum of four sources should be used, with at least two being outside assigned readings.  Part II will be your own experiment on this topic.  You will set up an experiment, using either a survey of individuals, or a mini-experiment to test people's reactions.

Steps for setting up the final project will be provided.  The last day of class, you will be asked to share highlights of your research informally with the class.  Turn in final paper with an 8 ½ x 11 envelope with 4 stamps so your paper #3 and research paper can be mailed back to you.
Final paper is due by Wednesday, December 1; please turn it in before if you can.


These are the communication topics we will cover each weekend; thus, this is our discussion outline, in order:

I. Values
II. Perception
III. Purpose/s for communicating
IV. Language
V. Nonverbal communication
VI. Listening 
VII. Power/conflict
VIII. Ways to improve communication


Marlene C. Cohen, Associate Professor
Department of Speech Communication and Theatre
Prince George's Community College
301 Largo Road
Queen Anne Fine Arts Building, Room 114
Largo MD 20774-2199
(301) 322-0177



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