Week 1
Aim: Define culture
Culture questions for thought
1. What is culture? Why is it important to understand it?
2. How does culture influence behavior? How does it shape the way we see
the world, ourselves, and others?
3. What are some of the central beliefs and values of Korean culture?
4. Compare and contrast the central beliefs and values of Korean culture to
that of a different culture that you know (well).
Defining culture
 Culture has to do with values, beliefs, ideas, practices, norms, attitudes, and
 Culture involves customs, traditions, patterns of behavior, worldviews,
systems of social organization, language, and material artifacts
 Culture is collective
 Culture is learned
 Culture guides, influences and shapes behavior
 Culture is transmitted from generation to generation
 Culture is dynamic and cultural change is an ongoing and continuous process
 Culture is often unconscious (i.e. people are sometimes not aware of how
their behaviors and attitudes have been shaped by their culture)
 People in all cultures have common needs
Week 2
Aim: Explore the features of your culture
(to understand it better for cross-cultural
Culture as an iceberg
Culture has been aptly compared to an iceberg. Just as an
iceberg has a visible section above the waterline and a larger,
invisible section below the water line, so culture has some
aspects that are observable and others that can only be
suspected, imagined, or intuited. Also like an iceberg, the part
of culture that is visible (observable behavior) is only a small
part of a much bigger whole.
Features of culture
Style of dress
Rules of polite behavior
Ways of greeting people
Attitude towards age
Beliefs about hospitality
Concepts of fairness
The role of the family
Importance of time
Nature of friendship
General worldview
Ideas about clothing
Beliefs about child raising
Body language
Personal space/privacy
Concept of self
Responsibilities of children
Work ethic
Gestures of understanding
Religious beliefs
Holiday customs
Religious rituals
Concept of beauty
Week 3
Aim 1: Explore yourself within and outside of your
Aim 2: Explore what research tells us about culture
(Chapter 1: Introduction to Culture)
Everyone has a culture/ is different
1. Languages you speak
2. Music you listen to and dances you know
3. Food you eat at home
4. Politeness, rudeness, and manners
5. What you wear on special occasions
6. Extended family and the role they play in your life
7. Important holidays and ceremonies for your family
8. Something important to you (e.g. value, person, goal, or hobby)
9. Describe the characteristics of the culture you’re a part of
A tough moment abroad
What was an unpleasant experience you have had abroad – one that
caused frustration, embarrassment, confusion, or annoyance?
Enculturation: The process of learning about the customs, conventions, and
practices of one’s society through family members, interactions in social
environments, and mass media, which shape the attitudes, beliefs, and values
people assign to the world around them
Big ‘C’: Objective culture (e.g. art literature, drama, music, dance, food, etc.)
Small ‘c’: Subjective culture (e.g. attitudes, beliefs, values, choice of discourse,
style of dress, norms of interaction, etc.)
Emics: Ideas, behaviors, items, and concepts that are culture specific (i.e. within
a culture)
Etics: Ideas, behaviors, items, and concepts that are culture universal (i.e. across
all cultures)
Beliefs: An individual’s convictions about the world (i.e. what someone
consider to be true about the world)
Values: Ideals or standards that are shaped by assumptions or judgments
about what is good, right, or important
Norms: Shared notions about what is appropriate behavior
Attitudes: Emotional reactions to objects, ideas, and people
Language and linguistic relativity
Language and culture are strongly interconnected. Culture influences the way
speakers perceive the world and how they use language to communicate.
Similarly, language influences how speakers view the world and the way in which
they communicate.
Linguistic relativity is simply the degree to which language influences human
thought (i.e. how it shapes our perception of the world)
Language and culture
Language is a symbolic representation of a group of people.
Language encompasses the historical and cultural background of a people.
Language is a means of identification within a culture.
Language is a lens through which reality is filtered (reflecting the world views,
thought processes, and lifestyles of its people).
Language is a medium that allows us to gain insights into another culture (acting
as both a mirror, reflecting that which a culture deems important, and a window,
revealing what values, beliefs, and attitudes a culture considers important and
how a culture has chosen to realize these truths through language).
Cross-cultural awareness
 Being aware of both one’s own cultural and other cultures
 Becoming cognizant of cultural patterns and practices
 Learning to recognize the impact that subconscious cultural
factors have on our interpretation of the world and the action of
people around us
 Discerning the relationship between language and culture
Teaching and learning connections
Culture is an integral part of language teaching and learning. The
goal in education is to translate culture teaching into a culture
learning experience for our students. The role of teachers is to help
learners become aware of the role of culture in forming people’s
interpretation of self in relation to others and the world around
them, as well as make learners become more tolerant of different
“ways of seeing.”
Weeks 4/5
Aim: Explore in more depth what research tells
us about culture (Chapter 2: More on Culture)
 Social experiences are structured around autonomous individuals
 Personal goals take priority over group goals
 Self-reliance, individual growth, personal achievement, and
satisfaction are all emphasized
 Independence is encouraged at a young age
 Education and career choices are based on personal needs/desires
 Roles and social relationships are less hierarchical and more fluid
 Rules governing social interactions are less dictated by age and
 Social experiences are structured around collectives (e.g. family)
 Group goals take priority over personal goals
 Social and familial relationships and networks are primary,
extensive, and interlocking
 Reciprocal obligation and responsibility are strong
 Interdependence, respect for authority, hierarchical roles and
relationships, and group consensus are all promoted
 Family is central
 Personal goals are aligned with responsibilities to the group
Preference of any sort given to relatives
Polychronic vs. Monochronic
Polychronic time cultures
Scheduling of time is of little importance, and many events occur
simultaneously. Emphasis is placed on personal involvement.
Spending time with others is valued more than adherence to strict
schedules or punctuality. There is a high tolerance of ambiguity.
Monochronic time cultures
Carefully scheduled (structured) time and the compartmentalizing
(organization) of one’s day is highly valued. Time determines and
coordinates everything. There is little tolerance of ambiguity.
Embodiment of two key Confucian tenets: The essential integration
of individuals into groups and the importance of maintaining social
harmony. Confucianism emphasizes that individuals exist in interactive
relationships with others. Face is related to the social status, influence,
and prestige an individual has, and it is realized and sustained through
each person’s interaction with other members of that culture. Face is a
person’s sense of positive social self-image in a relational and network
context. It is closely identified with beliefs regarding group
membership and social harmony. Loss of face not only entails personal
embarrassment or humiliation, but also threatens disruption of the
larger social harmony.
The belief in the intrinsic (inborn/natural) superiority of one’s own
culture, nationality, language, and/or ethnic group. It is a highly
subjective, personal, emotional, and subconscious way of valuing
one’s own culture above other cultures.
These are overgeneralized, exaggerated, and oversimplified beliefs
that people use to categorize a group of people. It is a psychological
process whereby members of one group ascribe characteristics to
another group, creating beliefs and expectations about people’s
behavior, attitudes, views, and demeanors.
Common national stereotypes
 Asians are all experts in martial arts and are good at math.
 English tolerate eccentric people, drink tea, and are football
enthusiasts. They have bad teeth and think they are better than you.
 French people never bathe, smoke heavily, always wear a beret, eat
frog legs, are rude, and are rather weak and cowardly.
 Germans are Nazis who consume huge amounts of beer, sausages,
cabbage and behave like machines. They have no sense of humor.
 Japanese are workaholics and are of short stature; Japanese tourists
spend their entire trip taking pictures of things. They copy and try to fit
the western cultures.
 Spaniards are people who always have bull races.
Common national stereotypes
 Russians drink vodka and are communists.
 Americans are fat, ignorant, war-mongering, don't know about other
countries, and talk with stupid accents.
 Chinese do not respect laws and talk very loudly.
 Jews are careful and obsessed with money, usually do commerce or
finance related jobs, and many of them are obsessed with religion.
 Indians smell like curry, are thrifty, like to show off, and are good
 Italian men are chauvinists, mobsters, hot-blooded and/or overemotional, and live an indulgent lifestyle. Often they are fashionable
and elegant looking.
 Mexicans are dirty, drink too much tequila, work for little money, are
illegal immigrants, and take naps often.
It is the process by which people explain another person’s behavior
by referring to their own experiences, values, and beliefs. To give
meaning to observed behavior, people draw on the personal
experiences they have developed throughout a lifetime of living and
interacting as a member of their culture. When the experiential
backgrounds of people are different, misunderstandings often occur
because of differences in perceptions of and interpretations of the
actions of the speakers, the social context, and even the physical
Culture shock
This occurs when people interact with members of a different
culture and experience the feeling of a loss of control; when a
person’s expectations do not coincide with – and indeed conflict
with – a different cultural reality. Factors that foster culture shock
include the degree of an individual’s sense of ethnocentrism;
tendency to stereotype; low levels of similarity in beliefs, values,
norms, and attitudes; and misinterpretations of the behaviors and
intentions of members from the other cultural group.
High-context communication
Occurs in cultures that emphasize communication through the
context of the social interaction (e.g. speaker’s social roles, gender,
age, status, etc.). High-context communication makes extensive use
of subtle non-verbal behaviors to convey a message. Much of the
actual message is left unsaid or implied, and it is up to the speakers
to understand the implicit information being imparted. The message
itself is dependent on the context within which it is being delivered,
and it can only be understood or interpreted within that context.
Examples include China and Japan – countries with a long shared
history, knowledge, values, and background.
Low-context communication
Takes place in cultures that stress communication via explicit
verbal messages. Communication is regarded as an independent
act performed between speakers and their listeners. The primary
responsibility for ensuring that listeners correctly receive and
interpret verbal messages rests on speakers – who try to convey
messages as clearly, thoroughly, and logically as possible. Direct
verbal modes of communication are preferred.
Cross-cultural communication difficulties
Effective cross-cultural communication depends on speakers’
awareness of the language and culture of each other. For crosscultural communication to occur with a minimum of
misunderstanding and a maximum of information exchange,
understanding one’s own culturally influenced behavior and thought
processes and those of the speakers of the other culture is essential.
This entails both perceiving the similarities and differences in other
cultures and also recognizing the constructs of one’s own culture
(our “hidden culture”).
Week 8
Aim 1: Expand awareness of differences in underlying cultural
values and beliefs via critical incidents
Aim2: Analyze human behavior by linking values to it,
exploring three dimensions of it (universal, cultural, and
personal), and observing it across the cultural divide
The visible and the hidden aspects of
Visible: Show up in people’s behavior
Hidden: Exist only in the realms of thought, feeling, and belief
The visible and the hidden are related; values and beliefs you
cannot see affect behavior. In other words, to understand where
behavior comes from – to understand why people behave the way
they do – means learning about values and beliefs.
Universal, cultural or personal
Universal: Refers to the ways in which all people in all groups are the
Cultural: Refers to what a particular group of people have in
common with each other and how they are different from every
other group
Personal: Describes the ways in which each one of us is different
from everyone else, including those in our group
In the mind of the beholder
We all believe that we observe reality, things as they are, but what actually happens is
that the mind interprets what the eyes see and gives it meaning; it is only at this point,
when meaning is assigned, that we can truly say we have seen something. In other
words, what we see is as much in the mind as it is in reality. If you consider that the mind
of a person from one culture is going to be different in many ways from the mind of a
person from another culture, then you have the explanation for that most fundamental
of all cross-cultural problems: the fact that two people look upon the same reality, the
same example of behavior, and see two entirely different things. Any behavior observed
across the cultural divide, therefore, has to be interpreted in two ways:
1. the meaning given to it by the person who does the action, and
2. the meaning given to it by the person who observes the action
Only when these two meanings are the same do we have successful communication,
successful in the sense that the meaning that was intended by the doer is the one that
was understood by the observer.
Week 9
Aim: To explore the concept of culture shock via exercises
from Chapter 3 of “Crossing Cultures in the Language
Culture shock exercises
1. Defining culture shock (p.127)
2. Wearing someone else’s shoes (p.130) *Chorus from Elvis
Presley’s “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”: Walk a mile in my shoes,
just walk a mile in my shoes, before you abuse, criticize and
accuse, then walk a mile in my shoes)
3. Semantic associations (p.132)
Week 10
Aim: To further explore the concept of culture shock via
Chapter 3 of “Crossing Cultures in the Language Classroom”
and a U.S. Peace Corps exercise
Culture shock
A four-stage model of culture shock –
Kalervo Oberg (1960)
1. Honeymoon or tourist phase
2. Culture shock
3. Adjustment or acculturation stage
4. Recovery or adaptation phase
Culture shock U-curve
The 5 stages of culture shock –
Peace Corps
1. Initial enthusiasm
2. Initial country and culture shock
3. Initial adjustment
4. Further culture shock
5. Further adjustment
Causes of culture shock: Cultural distance
Causes of culture shock: Cognitive fatigue
Aspects of culture shock 1
Culture shock has emotional, psychological, physiological,
psychosomatic, and cognitive (intellectual) impacts on an
individual’s psyche
North Americans in Korea - 1979 (p.117)
1. “Person” status of foreigners
2. General staring and rudeness in public
3. Passive resistance as a communication strategy
4. Extreme poverty and beggars
5. Koreans’ reactions to the influence of the U.S> in their country
6. Theft, bribery, and dishonesty
7. Cleanliness and sanitation
8. Health problems
9. Strange smells
10. Adjusting to the food
11. Learning to share
12. Lack of privacy
Aspects of culture shock 2
Emotional level (range of negative feelings – e.g. anger, anxiety,
depression, loneliness, homesickness, frustration, worry, irritation,
helplessness, hostility)
Rational level (when faced with culture shock you come, at some
point, to recognize that familiar cues and signals no longer govern
your interactions and social behavior – everything becomes
Identity level (human – things we share in common with others;
social – an individual’s societal roles; personal – characteristics that
individuals believe they possess that differentiate them from others)
1. Colliding cultures (p.131)
2. Evaluating anxiety (p.139)
3. Who am I? (p.143)
Week 11
Aim: To demonstrate cultural awareness activities
you can do in your classrooms
“Cultural Awareness”
Barry Tomalin and Susan Stempleski
(Oxford – Resource Books for Teachers)
1. Holiday photographs (3.6, p.69)
2. In my country (2.7, p.47)
3. Cartoon Categories (2.2, p.41)
4. Exploring song lyrics (1.6, p.23)
5. (If time) Dating customs (3.2, p.59)
Week 12
Aim: To analyze cross-cultural relations in“30 Days:
Straight Man in a Gay World”
Week 13
Aim: To explore nonverbal communication in crosscultural exchanges via Chapter 4 of “Crossing
Cultures in the Language Classroom”
Questions for thought
1. How would you describe nonverbal communication?
2. How does it manifest itself in our daily interactions?
3. What are some nonverbal behaviors typical of or
unique to Koreans?
3 interacting systems of nonverbal
1. Visual
2. Auditory
3. Invisible
Nonverbal behavior common across
1. Expressing emotions
2. Reinforcing, complimenting, or accenting messages
3. Acting as a substitute for verbal communication
4. Contradicting verbal messages
5. Regulating and managing communicative situations
6. Conveying messages in ritualized form
Non-verbal cues
 65% > (Hall) “what people do is frequently more
important than what they say.”
 Problems emerge when one interprets others’
behavior based on one’s own frame of reference
Miscommunication and confusion
1. The same nonverbal cue can signify different meanings in
different cultures
2. In most communicative interactions, more than one nonverbal cue is sent
3. There are significant variations in nonverbal behaviors
among members of any given culture, based on factors as
age, gender, personality, intimacy, socioeconomic
situation, and context
Miscommunication and confusion
Cite at least three examples in your life where nonverbal behavior has resulted in miscommunication
or confusion – if possible, in cross-cultural contexts.
Realm of non-verbal communication
 Gestures
 Facial expressions
 Eye contact and gaze
 Posture and movement patterns of touch (haptics)
 Dress
 Silence
 Space (proxemics)
 Time (Chronemics)
Talk! Talk! Talk!
1. What are your most valuable possessions?
2. When was the last time you were really disappointed?
3. What are the things you want most in life?
*Stand in a circle with your arms hanging straight at your
sides. Do not move your arms or hands at any time during
the discussion!
Getting Together
1. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
2. What are you most afraid of?
3. If you could star in a love scene with any living actor or
actress, who would you want to act with and where
would you want it filmed?
*Stay in your role!
Week 14
Aim: To ask questions about how rap music may be
shaping cultures, reinforcing racist stereotypes, and
promoting harmful ideas about gender and sexuality
via “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”
Week 15
Aim: To consider societal roles and expectations
cross- culturally via Chapter 4 of “Crossing Cultures in
the Language Classroom”
Gender Roles
 What are some gender stereotypes of (Korean) men?
 What are some gender stereotypes of (Korean) women?

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