Multiculturalism and communication in the HE classroom context: A Namibian case study

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International Journal of Multidisciplinary Comparative Studies


This study was conducted at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) to investigate the challenges of intercultural communication between lecturers and first year students in the Faculty of Human Sciences, Windhoek, Namibia. The study followed a mixed methods research design. A total of 40 respondents formed the study inclusive of lecturers, local and foreign students following a simple random sampling method. The researchers selected 40 respondents who could speak different languages and belong to diverse cultures. Out of the 40 respondents, 10 lecturers who dealt with first year students were selected to be part of the study. A total of 11 foreign respondents were included in the study and the other 19 were local Namibian students. Cultural and linguistic diversities were the main selection criteria. Primary data was collected through questionnaires and in-depth interviews. It was found out that the main barriers to intercultural communication amongst students and lecturers were the use of English as a medium of communication, anxiety and fear, generalizations including prejudice, poor listening skills (noise: distractions such as cell phone use and unclear messages), physical separation – the space between lecturers and students during classes, lack of knowledge of others’ cultural background, ignorance, and lack of knowledge of others linguistic background. Therefore, it was recommended that English with intercultural communication content should be offered to all firstyear students in the Faculty regardless of the programme. On the other hand, since NUST offers language classes for foreigners and beginners, students who struggle with English as a medium of instruction and communication are advised to enrol for extra language classes to help them to effectively communicate with lecturers and fellow classmates. It was further recommended that to enhance the competence of students and teachers in intercultural communication and interlanguage pragmatics, lecturers and students should expand the existing knowledge to enable them embrace cultural diversity.


Article published in an Open Access journal


multiculturalism, intercultural communication, culture, cultural identity theory, communication barriers, interlanguage pragmatics


Witbeen, P. P. & Woldemariam, H. Z. (2020). Multiculturalism and communication in the HE classroom context: A Namibian case study. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Comparative Studies, 7(1-3), pp. 20-43.