The Adaptation Strategies Amongst International Student in Malaysia”. West

The researchers are using the communication accommodation theory in
order to complete this research as it is the most suitable theory to relate
with the title of this research which is “Cross Cultural Adaptation Strategies
Amongst International Student in Malaysia”. West and Turner (2010, as cited in
Rahimian, 2013) the “core of communication accommodation theory” is that “in an
interpersonal relationship, in a small group, or across cultures, people adjust
their communication to others”. International students who came to Malaysia to
further their study definitely will suffer problem to adapt with the culture in
Malaysia and it may include communication styles, food, taboos and so forth.
Every students who come to Malaysia, or not to say every foreigners who come to
Malaysia has their own culture and practicing their culture in Malaysia seems
to be far from problems, but in order to live in Malaysia, they need to adapt
in the culture of Malaysia.

 The researcher found that
there are two processes in the communication accommodation theory that can be
related to the situation which is the adaptation strategies amongst
international students in Malaysia. The processes are divergence and
convergence. Giles, Coupland and Coupland (1991) suggested that “convergence”
has been defined as a strategy whereby individuals adapt to each other’s
communicative behaviour in terms of a wide range linguistic-prosodic-nonverbal
features including speech rate, pausal phenomena and utterance length,
phonological variants, smiling, gaze, and so on. During convergence, the
international students who come to Malaysia try to somehow ‘merge’ into the
local culture in Malaysia.

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International students who come to Malaysia will encounter
different language and even different norms in Malaysia, for example, in Muslim
community, no shake hand between opposite gender, and most of Muslim community
in Malaysia converse in Malay language. Even though some of them might also can
converse in English as their second language, but meeting a foreigner who are
willing to converse in the local language with them definitely will make them
feel more comfortable to be close to the foreigner, and in this case the
foreigner will be the international students. During the process of
convergence, the international student need to learn and adapt to the local
communicative behaviour.

Somehow, there are also international students who want to be
different from the others as Buller and Aune (1992) mentioned that they may
converge—make their style more similar to the partner’s-or diverge—make their
style more dissimilar to the partner. “Divergence” was the term used to refer
to the way in which speakers accentuate speech and nonverbal differences
between themselves and others (Giles, Coupland & Coupland, 1991). This
process take place when the foreigner or the international students who come to
Malaysia tend to feel that they need to maintain their social identity as they
proud about it. It might be not because of the hate of the local culture, but
more to embrace their own identity. During the process divergence, there is no
effort to reduce social distance or make the communication smoother as both of
the speaker tend to make a choice to dissociate themselves from the others.

Gallois (2005, as cited in Giles & Gasiorek, 2012) stated that speakers
adjust their communicative behavior based on evaluations of their fellow
interactants’ communicative characteristics in context, as well as their desire
to establish and maintain a positive personal and social identity. The need to
establish and maintain a positive personal and social identity which make the
international students to involve in the process of divergence. For example,
the international student is a Muslim and somehow the student stay in an area
which occupy most by the Christians or Buddhist or by races that might involve
Chinese or Indian, to protect his/her belief, the international student will
involve in the process of divergence, not because of the hate of the local
culture or community, but to maintain positive personal and social identity.
Same goes also for the vice-versa.

The communication accommodation process might be affected by
several factors that lead to the division of the two processes which are
convergence and divergence, as Rahimian (2013) stated Convergence and
divergence may work differently in different situations, even with similar conversational
counterparts. Living in different culture than the ‘home culture’ definitely a challenge
for a person, especially the international students that come to Malaysia as
Malaysia consist of multi-racial community with different culture. To survive
along their study, the international students need to know their strategies on
adapting the cross cultural situation while living in Malaysia.