This paper explores the issue of cross-cultural communication through examining data of a variety of non-native English speakers’ experiences using English in Australia. The data are rich in explanatory power not only because they represent authentic encounters of non-native English speakers in an English-speaking environment, but also because the encounters are decipherable through the application of pragmatic theories of language use. Various examples are provided to illustrate the range of cross-cultural misunderstandings and to explore how such issues might be addressed in a language classroom. Taiwanese teachers and students of English will find in these accounts similarities with their own English language learning experiences. The paper attempts to enhance their understanding of key issues in pragmatic competence such as Grice’s maxims, politeness theory and cross-cultural pragmatic failure.