UCLA Extension


Sheena Malhotra, Ph.D.
Phone 818-677-7217
Class Time Tuesdays 6:00-8:00 p.m. + asynchronous work


Intercultural Communication focuses on the importance of culture in our everyday lives, and the ways in which culture interrelates with and effects communication processes.  We live in an era of rapid globalization in which being able to communicate across cultures is imperative to our ability to function in a diverse workplace, city, and world.  This course will take us on a journey.  Using our stories and our online discussions, this course is designed to increase our sensitivity to other cultures.  Just as importantly, this journey increases our awareness of our own cultural backgrounds, and the contexts (social, cultural and historical) in which we live and communicate.

The specific course objectives are as follows:

  • To explore cultural self-awareness, other culture awareness, and the dynamics that arise in interactions between the two.
  • To understand how communication processes differ among cultures.
  • To identify challenges that arise from these differences in intercultural interactions and learn ways to creatively address them.
  • To discover the importance of the roles of context and power in studying intercultural communication.
  • To acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that increase intercultural competence


You will be expected to maintain an intercultural journal, explore another culture in depth, take exams and reflect on your own cultural assumptions in various forms through the course.


  • Martin, J.N. & Nakayama, T.K. (2007).  Intercultural communication in contexts.  4th Edition. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
  • Martin, J.N. & Nakayama, T.K. (2002).  Readings in Intercultural Communication. Experiences and contexts.  Mountain View, CA: Mayfield



Attendance (online) and Participation level in discussions/chats 15
Online Discussion Boards 20
Other-Culture Interaction Paper 15
Intercultural Journal 20
Midterm Exam 15
Final Exam 15



97-100 A+
87-89 B+
77-79 C+
67-69 D+
93-96 A
83-86 B
73-76 C
63-66 D
90-92 A-
80-82 B-
70-72 C-
60-62 D-



Class Participation

This intercultural course covers a large amount of material in a very short period of time.  Attending the interactive online class chats is imperative.  This is an interactive, experiential class.  Students are expected to engage actively in class discussion, discussion boards, etc. There are many ways to participate including active listening and thoughtful inquiry.  Attendance is absolutely critical to meeting the overall objectives of this course.  Since your participation grade will be evaluated based on your active participation in class discussions, discussion boards, and other in-class exercises, attending class is a pre-requisite to getting a good grade overall.


The purpose of the readings is to give us a theoretical as well as narrative basis to understand different dynamics and issues within Intercultural Communication.  Class discussion will build from the reading so it is assumed that the reading has been completed before the assigned date. You will be expected to write about your readings in your journal.

Course Assignments

Online Discussion Boards: The content of this course is not “merely” theoretical or political, but rather, it involves our personal lives—our relationships, our careers, our families as we exist in a global and increasingly intercultural context. Readings should be done well in advance to class. You should be prepared to contribute well thought-out and relevant content to the discussion questions posted online. You will be expected to demonstrate your preparation by posting to discussions and responding to classmates posts online to have a dialogue about the readings in ways that are different from in-class discussions. 

Each time you have Discussion Boards due, I will post 4-5 questions on the chapters and readings for that day. You should pick two of these questions and do two “original posts” (which should be about 2 substantial paragraphs in length) that address them. In these posts, you should offer an analysis, further the discussion around the question asked, draw on personal experience as well as on readings and text chapters. You are then required to do two “response posts” to your classmates on the two of the other questions. These response posts should go beyond short sentences where you basically say you agree or disagree. They should also be designed to further the point or debate the point your classmate is making in their original post, should draw on the readings/personal experiences and move the dialogue further. These response posts can be a small paragraph in length.

Other-Culture Interaction Essay:This assignment requires that you have an intercultural interaction with someone from a culture different than your own, read about that different culture in depth, reflect upon it and write about it. Once you have identified the “friend” you will be interacting with for this assignment, read up about their culture and history ahead of time.  Formulate some questions you want to ask them about their culture and experience. Spend 3-4 “contact hours” with the person or group from a culture different from your own. Talk to them or interview them about their culture.  Observe their interactions (if spending time with a family or group).  The purpose of this assignment is to help you learn about a cultural system that is different from yours through reading and through interactions with members of that cultural group.  Write a 3-4 page reflective paper about the intercultural experience in which you have participated.  The paper should include:

  1. a detailed description of the experience

  2. a discussion of the history of the cultural group you interacted with, as well as the values and assumptions operating in the other cultural system

  3. a discussion of how the other culture differs from your own and implications for future interactions

  4. attention to the context in which the interactions occurred and how that affected the communication, as well as the power positions of your own race/ethnicity/group compared with that of the culture you interacted with.

  5. an application of concepts, skills and attitudes learned thus far in the course to your understanding of the experience.

Mid-Term and Final Exams: The mid-term and final exams will consist primarily of objective, multiple-choice and/or “short essay” type of questions – constructed mostly to ensure that you have understood the terms and concepts used in intercultural communication.  Essay questions on these exams are designed for students to synthesize and apply material covered throughout the class.

Intercultural Journal: You will be required to write an intercultural journal through the duration of this course.  You should try to make about two entries per week and turn them in on the dates designated in this syllabus.  The purpose of this assignment is to:

  1. Critically analyze your feelings and reactions to the theoretical material from class discussions or assigned readings.

  2. Apply concepts you have learned in class

  3. Give you a space to discuss and examine your own evolution over this course

Use the following questions or thought guidelines in your writing (you are not limited to these, and you do not have to answer each of these questions each entry... these are just questions to get you started):

  1. How did you feel during the discussion?  Why did you feel this way?

  2. Is there something else you wanted to say in class?  Are there questions you wanted to ask?   Did any issue in class confuse or surprise you?

  3. Was something said that was important to your understanding of cultural dynamics?

  4. Do you agree or disagree with something that was said in class/readings/text?

  5. When writing about any emotions that you might experience during the class or in doing the readings, it is especially useful if you can apply some of the theoretical concepts/materials to help you make sense of them.

  6. Apply something that you learned in class to an intercultural experience outside class.  Did the concept/idea/theory help you better understand your experience?  Describe how?  If it did not, explain why not?  How would you modify it?

  7. Are there any ideas you wish we could explore further in a future class section?

I will be expecting ½ to 1 page per entry.  Do make sure to react to the readings in some way in order to demonstrate that you have done them.  If you are a visually-oriented person and wish to use pictures, etc., please feel free to do so.  While this can be a demanding assignment for some, it can be an invaluable tool as we grapple with different issues and concepts.


My role in this class will be primarily that of a facilitator of discussions… someone who brings to you certain texts and readings that are relevant to the theme of the class. I hope this will be a class where we can all teach each other, through our own experiences and reflections about culture in various communication contexts. Therefore, the discussions can be a lot of fun if everyone in the class gets into them. Respect for every student’s experience and opinion will be expected.

Also, because some of the theoretical and critical issues we will deal with in this course are complex, it is important that students stay current on the reading. Reading should be done well in advance to class and students should be prepared to contribute well thought-out and relevant questions and content to the discussion. Please do the readings before logging into class chats as they are essential for meaningful discussions to occur. This is part of your participation grade. Unannounced mini-quizzes will be administered if many of you consistently do not keep up with the readings and/or are missing class regularly.

Attendance and Participation: A significant portion of your grade depends on your attendance and active participation in the class. This requirement consists of the following components: (a) attendance, (b) punctuality, (c) keeping up with the readings, (d) active participation in online class discussions (e) participation in group work.

Late Work: Turn in papers and projects on the date they are due, unless you have a legitimate university-approved reason (such as a medical emergency). Late work will loose points and may not be accepted if it is submitted more than one week after the due date (based on context at discretion of the instructor).

Academic honesty and plagiarism: All assignments must be the student’s own original work. Please cite sources in your papers and familiarize yourself with UCLA guidelines on academic honesty.

All papers for this class will be submitted to the "Turn it in" website. is an anti-plagiarism site. When you submit a paper here, it compares it to millions of library databases, internet sites and other student papers to check for originality and gives it an originality score. This helps ensure that the work being turned is your own. So please make sure you are doing original work. If you are quoting from someone, please make sure you attribute the source properly. Plagiarism and cheating are grounds for university action and will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of the instructor to report any cases of plagiarism to the administration and can result in an “F” on the assignment, in the class. In order to submit your papers (other culture interaction paper & journals), please follow the instructions for “” provided on the class schedule page.