I'm based at International House, London where I am Director of Cultural Training and Director of the Business Cultural Trainer’s Certificate.

I’m also Visiting Lecturer in Intercultural Communication at the University of Westminster. I’ve worked for the ODA (Overseas Development Administration) in West Africa, for International House in Algeria and Paris, and for the BBC World Service in London, where I was Editor of BBC English by Radio and Television. I’ve trained in 61 countries so far.

The most interesting project I’ve worked on is the European Intercultural Workplace EU Leonardo project, where I acted as part of the University of Westminster team. This project examined the issues faced by migrant workers integrating in host companies in ten European countries and six core industries. You can read about it at www.eiworkplace.net.

I’m also acting as consultant on the ‘INTERACT’ project, exploring the needs for cross-cultural training for European managers. 

My interests
My key interests are in international management training and in learning about world cultures. I am the co-author of Cultural Awareness (OUP) and of ‘The World’s Business Cultures and How to Unlock Them’ (Thorogood 2007). You can find more information here: www.worldbusinesscultures.com. I’ve also written monographs on France, Germany and Spain.

Spare time? What spare time? I’m lucky I’ve got a fantastic job I’m really passionate about. But I do like watching movies – a carry-over from my BBC days, especially, looking out for cultural insights they contain.

Your comments and questions

During the month of October 2008 I will be the Guest Contributor. You can add comments or questions about this biography by clicking on Add new comment below. I will be regularly visiting the site, reading your comments and answering questions on my blog about my articles, and getting involved in discussions on the polls and forums.


Dear Barry Tomalin,

Welcome to TE as the Guest Contributor! Your name has been a reference to me from the APPI (Portuguese Association of Teachers of English) Newsletter and Journal.

Thank you for letting us know about your large experience related to Cultural Training.We were impressed with that detail: "I've trained in 61 countries so far." Definitely, you are a true citizen of the world!

Learning about other cultures brings an added value to our personal and professional development. We also think it is an amazing process of contributing to a better understanding between peoples/ countries as welll as helping to promote peace.

Best regards

Maria do Céu


Hi Maria,

Lovely to hear from you. I agree. I am always very impressed when I hear of schools in conflict zones where teachers work with groups from both sides to help people understand each other's culture. The key skill they build is empathy, the ability to put yourself the the other person's position. If you have empathy it is difficult to hate and that is what we as teachers of English can contribute towards building.

I think it is interesting that the ability to create empathy was one of the six qualities of an international manager identified by Michael Byram of Durham University, For the other five, visit www.cilt.org.uk and get details of the INCA project.

Also, Maria, see my blog 5 on cross-cultural vs intercultural.





Hello Barry,

It's good to have you as the Guest Contributor.

I teach English to business people here in Uruguay and I think it is very important to include in the lessons topics related to cultural awareness.

Most of my students have to deal with people from many different parts of the world so not only they need to find out about their cultures, but also they need to be aware of how they use English.

Not an easy task.




     Dear   Barry ,

For me ,as for the person from one of the conflict zones ( Abkhazia , Georgia) is important to know  that there are people who investigate the problems of intercultural relations concerning conflict zones and  think of how to reconcile people through teaching English. I think special courses should be designed to help people to get used to each other and each other's culture. It's extremely hard  when you have  students from the same conflicts zones but belonging to different ethnic groups and  each of them claiming  this is their history , their culture or their territory.

                               Neli Kukhaleishvili

Hi Mercedes,

Great to hear from you. I have wonderful memories of Montevideo. Your students need first of all to understand their own cultural language style and then compare it with the communication style of the nationalities and people they deal with.

If you read E T Hall's Silent Language or Richard D Lewis's When Cultures Collide you will see that different nationalities have different attitudes to formality of language, directness and indirectness, neutrality and emotion (That's Trompenaars), speed of speech etc.

These can be understood at national, but also at personal levels. I think the important thing is to make students aware of the differences so that they can adapt their expectations and eventually their speech style to the style of the foreign business people they are dealing with.

I'm sure you agree that the first thing to do is help Uruguayan business students become aware of their OWN communication style and then compare it to the average communication style of those they deal with. Japanese and German styles will both be very different from Uruguayan style.


Hi Neli,

Thank you for sharing this great and very important work. I have heard of a few teachers who work to bring students from different communities together through the teaching of English. One was in Belgrade teaching Serbians and Kosovans and another was in Israel, working with Jewish and Muslim students.

Are you familiar with the work of the American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, creator of non-violent communication or NVC? I did a course on this once and I thought the basic idea of taking the anger out of negotiation by using personal but neutral language could also be useful in English classes.

Briefly, he taught/teaches three formulae for identifying and leading a conflict to resolution.

OBSERVATION:  I observe that ........

FEELINGS:         I feel that ........

NEEDS:             I need to/ I need you to....

His belief is that such language promotes reasoned discussion and removes the judgemental language and attitudes that causes students to get angry and lose their ability to discuss. Look up non-violent communication on the Web. 

It would be good if other teachers had a contribution to make in this important area.





      Dear    Barry !

Thank you for the resources mentioned .  I think the whole community should be taught to use non- violent language . I observed many times   students '  motivation   going down  just because of the language teachers  and their peers use.

But it gets more serious when we have students from different cultural backgrounds or from the opposing conflict zones . Students   become more vulnerable  and   achieving progress becomes extremely difficult .

          With best wishes ,Neli

Hi Neli,

I agree it's difficult and slow but providing the avenue of communication and keeping it open is all important.

 I's like to know more about the kind of langugae that lowers motivation. Can you give me a couple of examples of what you mean?




Students work in pairs ,one of them is a bit slow  or not as strong as the other :

The one  who is sronger  and quicker tells the other: hey, you ,are you going to start or  say something ? I notice the slower student getting unhappy     , but when students belong to different cultures  , it gets worse.

Neli Kukhaleuishvili 

Well my dear fellow!

it is true that a little lazy student gets so unhappy after having been bruised up by another student who is a little more active in mentality.But that is not something to put someone under pressure. Try developing such an atmosphere which is conducive for studying with a sense of co-ordination ,rather than thinking about racialism.

Second way is to get the weak student motivated and give him a little extra time, before the class starts.Let him practice the today's reading in advance before the class starts, so that he may not get depressed in front of others.


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