12 Films for Teaching Intercultural Communication

If you are an instructor looking to teach intercultural communication, consider using film to enhance your teaching methods. Films give substance and meaning to intercultural communication discussions in the classroom. Rather than simply talking about and discussing cultural differences or culture clash, why not integrate film clips that can provide pragmatic illustrations of various communicative acts.

Films serve as a veritable stimulus and starting point for a range of communicative language activities and strategies that can be practised in pre-viewing and post-viewing phase activities. Based on your target audience and student needs, you may choose to use several clips from one or different films, or you may decide to work on the didactization of an entire film for several lessons or a course. Many different teaching strategies exist and you can adapt them to your students, as well as your teaching and learning environment.

Below you will find a list of films that are based on intercultural communication and culture in general. These films illustrate interactions between people of different cultures and are grouped by genre:

Comedy, Drama, Romance

1. Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

  • Cultural Topic: Culture Clash
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Cultures: British Indian Sikhs in London

2. French Kiss (1995)

  • Cultural Topic: Culture Clash romantic comedy
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Cultures: French/American culture

3. Green Card (1990)

  • Cultural Topic: Culture Clash romantic comedy
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Cultures: French/American culture

4. Lost in Translation (2003)

  • Cultural Topic: Culture Shock
  • Cultures: American /Japanese culture

5. Moonstruck (1987)

  • Cultural Topic: New York City subculture
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Cultures: Italian/American culture

6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (1: 2002 and the sequel 2: 2016)

  • Cultural Topic: Assimilation
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Cultures: Greek/American culture

7. The Gods must be Crazy (1980)

  • Cultural Topic: Culture Clash
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cultures: South African/Western culture

Animated Adventure

8. Brave (2012)

  • Cultural Topic: Medieval Scotland
  • Genre: Animated Adventure
  • Cultures: Scottish culture

9. Coco (2017)

  • Cultural Topic: Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
  • Genre: Animated Adventure
  • Cultures: Latin culture


10. My Family (1995)

  • Cultural Topic: Assimilation
  • Genre: Drama
  • Cultures: Latin/American Culture

11. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

  • Cultural Topic: An Indian Muslim boy breaking free from poverty
  • Genre: Drama
  • Cultures: Indian Muslim Culture

12. The Joy Luck Club (1993)

  • Cultural Topic: Assimilation, Immigration and Cultural Relationships
  • Genre: Drama
  • Cultures: Chinese/Chinese American culture

Appealing to different age groups, the above films are just a few of my favourites based on a variety of cultures. The films can be used in many different ways to encourage discussion and debate on how we deal with the intercultural dimensions of communication. Online, you will certainly find more films on intercultural communication.

And finally, with additional online research, you may find that some of the above films have already been through the didactization process. For instance, pedagogic resources already exist for the film Bend it Like Beckham (source: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/bend-it-beckham ). Either simply use the resources you find online, or be daring, creative, and inspired: make your own resources.

Related Questions

What are good movies about interculturality? Some movies that can be used to teach intercultural communication include French Kiss (1995), Green Card (1990), Lost in Translation (2003), Moonstruck (1987), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (1: 2002 and the sequel 2: 2016), The Gods must be Crazy (1980), Brave (2012), Coco (2017), My Family (1995), and The Joy Luck Club (1993).

Why do we study intercultural communication? We study intercultural communication to develop our cognitive, affective, and behavioural skills to facilitate communication with people from different cultural origins. This type of knowledge assists us in achieving high levels of personal and cultural self-awareness and a deep understanding of and respect for the influence of culture on behaviour, values, and beliefs.

In a mobile and globalized world, the knowledge and understanding of intercultural communication are of great significance and value, since it supports the development of lifelong learning and soft skills, which are required to help people navigate through their careers and future relationships towards both personal and professional fulfilment (source: me – Going Beyond Words and Actions: Teaching Metacognitive and Soft Skills to ESP Communication Students at the Dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution).

For example, imagine that you meet your soulmate, who is from a foreign culture. This person announces that you will be eating “frog legs, à la provençale” or “delicious snails” for dinner. How would you react?

Dana Di Pardo Leon-Henri

Dana Di Pardo Léon-Henri is a senior researching lecturer with ELLIADD (EA 4661), currently teaching English for Special or Specific Purposes (ESP) at the University of Bourgogne Franche Comté at the UFR SLHS in Besançon, France. Her research is focused on ESP and LSP Language Teaching, foreign language learning and teaching, pedagogy, didactics, evaluation, artificial intelligence and language teaching, language policy and professional skills development at the higher education level.

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