The Intercultural Communication and Integration of Immigrants into American Society

When talking about intercultural communication, immigration come to mind. Analyze this concept and two concerns related to it. Immigration; one of the biggest and more controversial topics in the last years. In reality, this is a problem that in one way or another every country has seen and experienced. In the history of the United States is present, since the first time when Africans were imported to the U.S to perform slave labor. Since then many people state that the United States is a country of immigrants.

In current years there has been an increase, and a significant impact in the social landscape since the foreign-born population is increasing day by day. These not only affect old and young people that are struggling and seeking to live a better life but ultimately also affect society in general. Immigrant people experience many difficulties in their journey, and even more when they get to live in the United States. We need to take into account that each immigrant experience is different from each other, but two factors are always present and are an obstacle; discrimination and the U-curve theory.

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The first factor; it is a behavior, it is the action of excluding, avoidance or distance oneself from other groups which according to Judith N, Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama in our book “Experiencing intercultural communication: An introduction” this is called discrimination. This term may be based on racism or any other “isms”; like sexism; related to a cultural group. The easy way to think about discrimination is that ‘power plus prejudices equal “isms” ‘(Martin & Nakayama, 2018).

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Our book states that Discrimination can be collective, interpersonal, and/or institutional (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 63). So, you would ask, what discrimination have to do with immigration? It is simple as a minority group for example in the United States, immigrants are always facing this problem in their everyday lives; at schools, in their community, and even in their job or in the hiring process.

The second factor that immigrants faced is related to the U-curve theory of adaptation. According to our book “Experiencing intercultural communication: An introduction” the authors stated that; “in this model, migrants go through three fairly predictable phases in adapting to the new culture situation.” (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 124). In the first phase, the immigrant experiences anticipation and excitement principally if the immigrant moved to the other culture voluntarily. On the second phase, we have the well-known culture shock where migrant experience a feeling of discomfort or disorientation because of the lack of familiar cues in the environment. During this period the person can also experience an identity crisis since we are no more exposed constantly to our original culture. The final phase is adaptation where progressively learn the customs and rules of the new culture. During this phase, the person would change many behaviors and actions but learning to maintain some aspects of their original culture (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, pp. 124-125).

These phases can take months or even years, or even go back and forth or stay stuck in one phase. This is a gradual process. Immigration is a very broad topic we can relate to so many chapters in this book, but I think that the main point that we can relate to immigration is these two because it represents real problems that all immigrant experience across cultures. Communications is an important concept expose throughout our book. Explain further this concept and the different issues linked with it. What would be of life without communication? I cannot imagine. Our book defines communications as a “symbolic process whereby meaning is shared and negotiated” (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 39). Communication can be many things, and one of them is that it is symbolic meaning that all the gestures or words that we make essentially have not meaning in themselves so that they acquire the meaning and significance only when people agree with their meaning at least at some degree (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 39), an example of these is the different way of dressing or a word like car.

Communication involves a process of several components like a message, the people who communicate and a channel. Thanks to this we can say that communication is dynamic; in other words; it is an ongoing process because, for example, the persons who are communicating are at the same time the receivers and the senders. (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, pp. 40-41). Since the same message can potentially have more than one meaning, communication involves negotiation and the sharing of the meaning of the words in that message and since communication is receiver-oriented the person who assigns meaning it is the one that determines the outcome of the situation. (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, pp. 40-41). Communication do not need to be intentional. (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 41). On the other hand, communication can happen verbally or non-verbally. Both of them communicate meaning and are governed by rules. (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 174). Verbal means that you use words and the language which is very accurate most of the time.

Now nonverbal communication is another thing. Nonverbal communication is defined as “communication through means other than a language like a posture, eye movement, facial expressions, gestures or silence.” (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, pp. 39, 173). This type of communication can reflect anxiety, depression, worried or even can predict if we are laying; which in some cultures are considered a crime and this is because the meaning of this kind of communication can vary across cultures and contexts. We can also add that since nonverbal communication act in the subconscious because of this sometimes is linked to the real truth. There is no doubt that communication plays an important role in our lives but also helps us develop a sense of identity. In our book the authors exposed that “Identity arises when communication messages are exchanges between person.” (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. p.96).

Essentially, we can understand who we are because of our communications with others. Sometimes depending on whom we are talking to we can accentuate different identities. Another factor that can influence our identity is the development of new communication technology. (Martin & Nakayama. , 2018, p. 96) Paul J. Mayer said that “communication -the human connection- is the key to personal and career success.” And he was right effective communication can improve our experiences throughout life. The impact of communications is unimaginable.


Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2018). Experiencing intercultural communication: An introduction (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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The Intercultural Communication and Integration of Immigrants into American Society. (2021, Feb 04). Retrieved from

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