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Communicating Across Cultures: Why does it matter?

Venue: Birkbeck 30 Russell Square

This event aims to provide an introduction to and to make a case for intercultural awareness and communication skills in our everyday lives through multiple perspectives. It addresses the questions of what intercultural communication is about, why it is relevant and who needs it. It features the following talks and speakers. The talk will conclude with a Q & A session, followed by a wine reception.  

Intercultural Communication as a field of enquiry: 60 years on

Zhu Hua (Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Director and founder of MA in Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions, Birkbeck, University of London) will give an introduction to intercultural communication as a field of enquiry.

Intercultural misunderstandings: A demonstration

John Twitchin (Director of the Centre for Intercultural Development) will illustrate through a demonstration how misunderstandings of intercultural communication occur.

Working interculturally: career links

Agnes Bamford and Andrea Picazo, will talk about how studying / researching Intercultural Communication helped with their careers.


Featured speakers:

John Twitchin is the Director of the Centre for Intercultural Development (CICD), specialising in teaching/training of intercultural competence. Over the course of 25 years as a senior producer of BBC TV in charge of management training output, and editor of BBC multicultural programming, John made many documentary training films on intercultural communication, both for BBC TV and for SBS Channel in Australia (Film titles are listed on In academic terms, John studied PPE and later worked on research projects in applied socio-linguistics with the co-founder of that subject, Professor John J. Gumperz at Berkeley. He has lectured at 104 universities and colleges.   John is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD). He has coached over 600 corporate executives for expatriate working in 41 countries, and run workshops for public service professionals serving minority communities and /or managing culturally diverse teams. The e-handbook ‘Communicating Interculturally’ is among 50 publications which include books ‘Doing Business in….’ written for United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI) specifically for work in China; Germany; Poland; France; India.  For information/contact: email 

Agnes Bamford was born and grew up in Bergen, Norway. She is an experienced intercultural business coach, trainer and facilitator and has run her own intercultural consultancy since 2008. Previously Agnes worked as a translator, a training executive for fintech company Bloomberg LP and a marketing consultant. Agnes works across Europe and delivers intercultural training, coaching and team facilitation. The main focus is on international problem-solving skills and executive development. Agnes also delivers intercultural youth and family programmes. She works with a diverse client base across the following sectors: FMCG, pharmaceuticals, energy, financial services, automative and manufacturing. Agnes is also an associate with global leadership, intercultural training providers and relocation companies, as well as generating direct client work.

Agnes regularly leads workshops at the Norwegian School of Economics and is a guest lecturer to MA students in intercultural communication at University of Manchester.  Agnes has been a board member of SIETAR UK since 2015 and is the Vice President of the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce.  Agnes holds an MA in Intercultural Communication from Birkbeck, an MSc in business administration from the Norwegian School of Economics and has qualifications in comparative politics, psychology and teaching.

Andrea Picazo grew up in Madrid and was raised in a multilingual environment, moving to the UK with her family at the age of 16. She later studied English Language and French at the University of Sussex and Université Michel de Montaigne (in Bordeaux), before starting her career at a media monitoring company in Reading, where she covered news and events from Latin America. She worked in marketing and student recruitment at St George’s, University of London and Birkbeck, University of London, before joining the International Office at Birkbeck. She is now the regional manager for Latin America, representing Birkbeck in Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Colombia, and supporting applicants from the region. She is in her second year of the MA Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions.

Zhu Hua is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. She was born and grew up in Northeastern China in an eventful era which saw the end of the Cultural revolution. She has travelled and lectured in different parts of the world. Her main research interests are language development and intercultural communication. In addition to a number of journal articles, she has published five books and one speech and language assessment on a number of topics including phonological development, language learning and teaching, and language and intercultural communication. Her recent book-length publications are:  Zhu Hua (2019). Exploring Intercultural Communication: Language in Action (2nd edition, Routledge); Zhu Hua (ed.). (2016) Research Methods in Intercultural Communication: A Practical Guide (Wiley Blackwell); and Zhu Hua (eds.). (2016) Crossing Boundaries and Weaving Intercultural Work, Life, and Scholarship in Globalizing Universities (co-edited with Adam Komisarof, Routledge).  She has led a number of research projects funded by research councils, two of which involved working with intercultural education charities such as the CISV and Raleigh International. 


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