The acculturation experiences of non-local university students through their intercultural communication intelligence in Hong Kong

Min YANG, Chung Hong TAM, Kwok Tung TSUI, Baoru SONG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Informed by research literature about intercultural competence development, this paper aims to explore non-local students’ skills and strategies in communication when they study at a university in Hong Kong. The previous research indicated that they usually experience many problems to adapt into host culture and country because they are lacking in language proficiency and social-cultural knowledge. Students’ prior learning experience, attitude, psychological or behavioural factors can affect their communication skills. In addition, different languages, dialects, accents, characters or cultural difference between their home and host cultures can also cause communication barriers to the students. This study shows that most of the non-local students, mainly the Chinese, still encounter language difficulties in communication in a Chinese society. Such difficulties are reported in studies on Gangpiaos (literally meaning Mainland Chinese drifters in Hong Kong) as well; the word “drifter” implies adaptation difficulties for Mainland Chinese immigrates. Nonetheless, existing empirical studies have been seldom tapped into non-local university students’ intercultural communication capability and how they cope with their communication difficulties in a Chinese society. The present study seeks to fill this research gap in the literature. Based on in-depth interviews with 30 non-local students who were studying in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programmes, this paper adopted thematic analysis to examine the students’ language obstacles and identify the pattern of their communication practices in the process of intercultural adaptation in Hong Kong. Coping strategies in communication and implications for policies, which assist in young Gangpiaos in developing their intercultural communication knowledge and skills, are drawn based on the findings. Copyright © 2018 HKERA International Conference.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


intercultural communication
Hong Kong
communication barrier
communication skills
cultural difference


Yang, M., Tam, C. H., Tsui, K. T., & Song, B. (2018, December). The acculturation experiences of non-local university students through their intercultural communication intelligence in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) International Conference 2018: Equity, Access, and Diversity in Education: Theory, Practice, and Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


  • Alt. title: The acculturation experiences and intercultural communication competence among non-local university students in Hong Kong