Intercultural been considered as an undeniable part of curriculum

     Intercultural competence and intercultural
sensitivity are sometimes mentioned interchangeably by some scholars to refer
to the same thing. However, Hammer, Bennet, and Wiseman (2003) have asserted
that intercultural sensitivity is the prerequisite skill for intercultural
competence. In other words, intercultural competence is the behavioral
manifestation of intercultural awareness and intercultural sensitivity (Peng,
Rangsipaht, &Thaipakdee, 2005). In
the area of language teaching, intercultural communication trend started to
complete the communicative language teaching (CLT) movement in which
communicative competence (CC) is shaped beyond native speakers because of the changing
role of English as a global lingua franca (Baker, 2016; Gu, 2015). So far,
intercultural communicative competence has been considered as an undeniable
part of curriculum documents, instructional materials, and assessment (Baker,
2015). Coupled with, intercultural sensitivity is defined as an
“attitudinal forerunner to successful intercultural encounters and a predictor
of cultural competence” (Altshuler et al., 2003, p.388). In this respect, Chen
and Starosta (2004) suggested that intercultural communication sensitivity increases
an individual’s ability to respect cultural differences, foster multiple
cultural identities, and expand multicultural coexistence. Equally important,
some scholars have defined intercultural sensitivity as the affective aspect of
intercultural communication where the individuals have “active desire to
motivate themselves to understand, appreciate, and accept differences among
cultures” (Peng, 2006, p. 39). One attempt to define cultural sensitivity is
made by Bennett (1993) as the ability to overcome ethnocentric worldviews and deal
with cultural diversities. Bennett’s (1993) Developmental Model of
Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) is considered as a theory of how individuals
develop intercultural communication competence. In his theory, Bennett describes the
changes through each step of the scale:

The
first stage is change from Denial to Defense: during this stage, the individual acquires
an awareness of the differences between cultures.The
second stage is change from Defense to Minimization: at this stage, negative judgments are
depolarized, and the person is aware of the similarities between cultures.The
third stage is change from Minimization to Acceptance: the individual understands the significance
of intercultural differences.The
fourth stage is change from Acceptance to Adaptation: there is a desire to learn about other cultures.The
fifth stage is change from Adaptation to Integration: there is empathy and respect towards
other cultures.

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      During these stages of intercultural communication
competence, the individual understands cultural difference through
“accepting its importance, adapting a perspective to take it into account, or
by integrating the whole concept into a definition of identity” (Bennett,
2004, p.153).

      Intercultural sensitivity has been
considered as the main factor changing ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism in the
developmental process (Hammer & Bennett, 2004). In effect, any attempt to
raise individuals’ intercultural sensitivity level will assist them in
realizing and understanding why cultural differences are important. The
significant role of intercultural sensitivity has also been shown empirically
in a number of studies. Bhawuk and Brislin (1992), for instance, conducted a
study to test intercultural sensitivity inventory among graduate students in
Hawaii and concluded that people who enjoy higher level of intercultural
sensitivity were more successful in their intercultural communication. In 2001,
Olson and Kroeger carried out a survey of 52 New Jersey City University faculty
and staff to examine the relationships among their international experience,
levels of intercultural sensitivity, and global competencies. In their study, they
employed Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. The
results of their study revealed explicit the relationship among
ethnorelativism, experience abroad, and second language acquisition implying that
intercultural development was necessary for both faculty and staff of that
university.

     To signify the importance of intercultural
sensitivity training, some scholars such as Young, Sachdev and Seedhouse (2009)
believe that intercultural awareness has positive effects on individuals’
methods of thinking, behavior, and communication. The findings of another study
conducted by Mendenhall and Oddou (1991) revealed that intercultural training
causes individuals to act successfully due to improved perceptions, and
relational skills. Supporting the necessity of intercultural training, Byram
(2008), as one of the pioneers in this line of research, asserts “acting
interculturally pre-supposes certain attitudes, knowledge and skills that need
to be learnt” (p.69).

      Parallel with all of the statements
elaborated above, improving intercultural sensitivity may have benefits beyond
the intercultural communication, at the individual, interpersonal, and
intergroup level. For the individual, the ability to consider external factors
when explaining (negative or ambiguous) behavior of others is beneficial in that
the accuracy of judgments may be increased when factors that are otherwise
overlooked or underestimated are taken into account (Sullivan, 2003). At the
interpersonal level, positive effects include reduced tendencies towards
retaliation and conflict (Weiner, 2006), increased cooperation and negotiation
outcomes (Allred, Malozzi, Matsui, , 1997), and more satisfying
interactions in relationships (Bradbury & Fincham, 1990). At the intergroup
level, external attributions have been shown to promote improved intergroup
attitudes (Vescio, Sechrist, & Paolucci, 2003) and decreased intergroup
conflict (Betancourt, 1990).

 

3.2. Roles of
TV Advertisement as a source of cultural Knowledge

      The role that culture plays in international
commercial communications cannot be denied. Advertisements reflect the culture
in which they appear (Kalliny et al., 2011). The most referred
framework in cross-cultural advertising research is Hall’s cultural context
theory (Hall, 1976). According to this theory, culture plays a significant role
in advertising effectiveness (Hall, Emery &Tian, 2010). As Hall has noted,
“meaning and context are inextricably bound up with each other” (2000, p. 36). It
implies that in order to understand the intended message, one should pay
attention to both verbal and non-verbal aspects of the desired context (Würtz,
2005).  Equally important, Cosgrave
(1999) linked culture and television as a symbiotic relationship. He stated
that television is a technological means for representing and transmitting conceptions
of cultural identity.

      In the digital age, TV commercials give
students the opportunity to experience distinct viewpoints of various cultures.
Commercials make connections between language and other symbolic ways of making
meaning, connections between languages and other disciplines, and connections
between language and culture” (Kern, 2008, p. 367).Video materials, and
especially TV commercials, have proved to be useful for a number of reasons.
First thing to consider is the authenticity and depth of TV advertisements,
Davis (1997) and Erkaya (2005) clarified TV advertisements as short and
authentic texts that prompt cultural understanding. It is believed that
authentic materials have a positive effect on learner motivation since they present
target cultural information, and provide exposure to real world language
(Philips & Shettlesworth 1978; Clarke 1989; Peacock 1997). Moreover, Wood (2001) stated that using TV advertisements at class can prompt
students to experience differing viewpoints, thoughts and feelings in a healthy
comfortable classroom climate.

     In addition, Eun (2003) mentioned
television programs provide a variety of authentic resources for the teaching
of English, using vivid images, sounds, and cultural events (p. 41). In the
same fashion, by exposing learners to commercials in the classroom teacher can practice
language skills in a motivating live climate since the spoken words are backed
up by actions (Davis, 1997).One positive finding is that the cultural values
can be used as a springboard to language practice. It is important to remember
that TV commercials are designed to be attractive and fun to stimulate viewers
to purchase goods or services. As Tuzi, Mori and Young (2010) assert, teachers
can use different commercials for different levels of groups in the same class,
or they can use the same commercial, but then focus on different linguistic or
cultural elements for the different levels In addition to providing rich
content, TV commercials practice critical analysis skills. McGee and Fujita
(2000) focused on the ability of commercials to expand critical thinking
skills.  Commercials are a useful tool
for developing awareness and analysis of cultural differences as well as
building critical thinking skills. Moreover, commercials are beneficial to
students in settings where access to native speakers and authentic language is
limited. Commercials can make even deeper impacts on students (Tuzi, Mori &
Young, 2008). Therefore, Authentic content, short duration, and the combination
of words and visual images make commercials the ideal source for innovative,
fun, and most importantly, meaningful classroom activities. Equally important, Philp and Duchesne (2016, p. 57)
term this outcome “mutuality” or the effort, active participation, and
responsiveness that occurs when learners partake in reciprocal social
interactions in L2 classroom
settings.