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The Multicultural Mind by David Thomas

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CHAPTER FIVE

SINGING SEA CHANTEYS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A SAILOR

Language and Multiculturalism in an Organizational Context

Individuals who are fluent in more than one language can make a significant contribution to innovation in multicultural organizations. However, multilingual does not mean multicultural any more than singing a seafaring song makes one a sailor.1 Furthermore, having a multicultural mind does not rely on knowing another language. Language is a powerful element of cultural identity, and second-language ability often forms alongside cultural identity. However, it is important that individuals and organizations do not equate the two. Speaking a foreign language is a valuable skill that can give individuals insight into another culture. ...

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