Communicating in a culturally diverse country

“Recognising that our beliefs and values are not the only way of seeing or doing things opens us up to learning about other perspectives.” From


Image courtesy of

Being able to communicate across cultural and language differences, is often a challenge worldwide, and one that we meet every day in South Africa. We are proudly one of the most multicultural and linguistically diverse nations on earth, and this can be a challenge. However, if we equip and prepare them well it could also be an extremely stimulating experience for our children.


Before we can teach children about other cultures, however, we need to make them aware of their own cultures. If they enjoy and respect their own rituals and cultural habits, then they will be better prepared to recognise  those of others. We need to give them a ‘place’ to put new cultural experiences, and equip them with parallels in their own lives, so that they can safely experience other cultures. Making children aware of their own culture and heritage, also encourages a sense of pride and belonging, which boosts confidence. We have just celebrated heritage day – did you discuss the concept of  culture and heritage with your children? We’d love to hear about your insights and experiences.


Different languages can often be a barrier to communication. In South Africa, where there are 11 official languages, it is perhaps more important than anywhere else in the world, to encourage children to learn a new language. Communication is the key to understanding, which leads to embracing differences and cultivates empathy, a cornerstone to building vitally important EQ. So in the spirit of embracing differences and encouraging communication we have a few suggestions:

  • Talk about the concept of culture with your children. What makes people the same, and what sets them apart?
  • You family also has a culture within itself. What makes you special, and what do you do differently from other families?
  • Talk about communication. Is it just different languages that make understanding one another difficult at times, or are there other differences between people?


Once you have made your children aware of the variety of different cultures around us, it could be fun to explore and learn more about specific traditions and festivals. Help them to value and respect the culture of those around them, as they value and respect their own.


Here is a great site with an amazing and diverse list of cultural activities and heritage sites, that can help you and your kids explore and celebrate our culturally diverse nation. From a visit to Robben Island to exploring cave paintings, there’s something for everyone.


Why don’t you download the Xander counting apps in Xhosa or Zulu and get started on exploring our official languages with your children.
“Exploring similarities and differences in our cultural expectations improves our capacity to understand and relate to others, and helps to build a sense of belonging amongst children and their families.” From