What is Cultural Competence?

Cultural competence is more than just being aware of cultural differences. It is the ability to understand and effectively communicate and interact with people from different cultures. It includes:

  • Being aware of one’s own worldview (biases, assumptions)
  • Having a positive outlook and attitude towards diversity
  • Building knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews
  • Gaining cross-cultural communication tools and skills

Although most people usually relate culture to ethnicity, culture can also refer to the culture of any group of people; think workplace culture, popular culture (e.g. punk culture, hip hop culture), sports culture (e.g. rugby culture, netball culture etc). Therefore, as individuals we can belong to a number of different cultures at any one time, all which may have different values, belief systems, environments and rules.

In a world where multiculturalism is rapidly increasing, people of different cultures are becoming more and more interwoven. Living in a peaceful, cohesive and well-functioning world requires of us to think, act and live in a way that values other people, other opinions and ways of life that differ from our own. This course aims to assist you to becoming more culturally competent in your life and your dealings with others. We contend that this will lead to an enriched life, more effective workplaces and a more tolerant and unified society.

For professionals, cultural competence will assist you to deliver services that meet the social, cultural and linguistic needs of your clients.

Here’s another video that will reinforce the messages above – a great snapshot definition and some really key points towards the end of the video so watch it to completion! 

Take a look at this TEDx Talk with Raquel Martin. I think it could be used at this point and perhaps you could introduce the terms ‘cultural humility’ and ‘cultural responsiveness’.


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