Since social interaction seems to be essential for group maintenance and instrumental for online learning by students, many instructors employ a number of strategies to establish this type of communication in their online modules. According to Wang (83), communication in an online set up can lead to the realization of some hidden attributes that are not revealed in face-to-face communication. In contrast, international students whose social support comprises largely of contact with friends and colleagues from other countries (including internet-mediated contact with friends and family at home) tend to portray poorer language skills and adjustment levels (Gareis, Merkin and Goldman, 183). Social interaction with people from different cultural backgrounds actually increases individuals’ view of the world. It challenges some formerly held discrimination about people from other cultures.
Cultural diversity is a critical factor affecting the type of social relationships that people establish and maintain. It is the component that shapes the values, attitudes and actions of an individual when interacting with other individuals in a personal and contextual manner (Gareis et al., 158). According to Gay (2002), culture entails several things, some of which are more essential for teachers to know as compared to others since they culminate into direct consequences on the process of teaching and learning. Among these are cultural values, learning styles, traditions, contributions, communication, and relational patterns of the ethnic communities. However, while cultural diversity is a crucial aspect affecting student learning, the personal and contextual set up vary for each individual student (Sias et. al., 3).
Cross-cultural communication is portrayed in the social interactions between peoples’ cultures that present exceptional challenges together with associated benefits. Individuals must embrace differences in cultural principles, ethics and values and/or languages, and rise above existing prejudices (Wang, 83 and Gay, 110). Most notably, establishing cross-cultural relations acts as an enlightening experience for people from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, cross-cultural communication is a function of cultural norms only. According to Sawir et al. (14), most international students revealed that a lack of cultural fit and lack of intimate persons as the main causes of loneliness.
In conclusion, in general, the five articles explore the socio-cultural aspects of interaction and how they affect the quality of learning for students. It is evident that the extent of social interaction is greatly determined by cultural diversity, which in turn influences the establishment and development of cross-cultural communication. The ability to create cross-cultural communication relationships has a direct impact on how students perform. Therefore, while cultural diversity is a crucial aspect affecting student learning, the personal and contextual set up vary for each individual student.
Gareis, Elisabeth, Rebecca Merkin, and Jeffrey Goldman. "Intercultural Friendship: Linking Communication Variables and Friendship Success." Journal of Intercultural Communication Research Vol. 40, No. 2, July 2011, pp. 153–171 40.2 (2011): 153-171. Web.
Gay, Geneva. "Preparing for Culturally Responsive Teaching." Journal of Teacher Education 53.2 (2002): 106-116. Web.
Sawir, Erlenawati, Simon Marginson, Ana Deumert, Chris Nyland, and Gaby Ramia. "Loneliness and International Students: An Australian Study." Journal of Studies in International Education 20.10 (2007): 1-33. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.
Sias, Patricia M., Jolanta A. Drzewiecka, Mary Meares, Rhiannon Bent, Yoko Konomi, Maria Ortega, and Colene White. "Intercultural Friendship Development." Communication Reports 21.1 (2008): 1-13. Web.
Wang, Haidong. "A Qualitative Exploration of the Social Interaction in an Online Learning Community." International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning 1.2 (2005): 79-88. Web.