Why is it important?Culture influences many parts of peoples lives including: Food, dress, opinions, identity, music, buildings, mann ers, social interaction, language. We need to understand each others cultural backgrounds to make sense of different view points and opinions.Cultural Awareness is important in creating cross culturalunderstanding and acceptance. Cultural awareness can give us a better understanding of our own culture and how it is perceived by outsiders.
Cultural DifferencesLanguage Barriers Culture Shock
What is Culture?Culture: the customary beliefs, socialforms, and material traits of aracial, religious, or social group; also : thecharacteristic features of everyday existence(as diversions or a way of life) shared bypeople in a place or time.
Culture makes up a largepart of our day to day life.Cultural differences includedifferences infood, clothes, religion andlanguage. American Iced Tea For example, think aboutthe different ways differentcultures take tea. English Tea Chinese Tea Small differences, like the way each culture drinks tea can be difficult to get used to at first because these things are so important to day to day living.
However, the small things things arejust the tip of the iceberg-they areonly the things we can see on thesurface. Parts of culture we can seeThere are many parts of culture thataren’t visible; like most of an iceberg.These include:•Work Ethic•Importance of Time•Religious Beliefs•Values•Nature of FriendshipsBecause these differences aren’tvisible they are very difficult tocommunicate and understand. Parts of culture we cannot see Despite this, the parts of culture wecannot see are very importantbecause they underpin the parts ofculture we can see.
Examples of Cultural DifferencesIn Mediterranean Europeancountries, Latin Americaand Sub Saharan Africa, it is In England the thumbnormal, or at least widely and forefingertolerated, to arrive half an together to form an ‘O’hour late for a dinner means Ok, whereas ininvitation, whereas in most France it meansnorthern European ‘nothing’ or ‘withoutcountries this would be any value’.considered extremely rude. In most countries Laughing is considered shaking the head from a sign of happiness in side to side means ‘No’ most countries, but in whereas in Japan it is considered a India, shaking the head sign of from side to side confusion, embarrassm means ‘Yes’. ent or insecurity.
How can you be culturally aware? 1. Engage with other students’ cultures by asking questions. 2. Be Open! Don’t get into the habit of thinking your way is the only way of doing something-how is it done in another country? 3. Think about what you can learn from other students, and what you can teach them. 4. Invite students to share their culture with you.
Attitudes and Expectations Students will have a lot of questions before and after they arrive. Start to think about some of the answers to these questions and how you could answer them.What will my lectures and Will my English be good enough?seminars be like? What will people look like? What will the weatherHow do I open like? be a bank How much will it all cost?account? What will my accommodation be like?What will I do if I get ill? Will the How will I get to the University from people be the airport? friendly?
Language BarriersIt is most likely that English will be a second languagefor the majority of international students. Some willhave excellent English, while others will still belearning. Therefore it is important to be aware ofhow to communicate effectively. An example of language barriers: Students in an English lesson were discussing a picture that had the ‘London Eye’ in it. One student proceded to write down the name of the London Eye in their book. However instead of writing ‘eye’ the student wrote ‘air’. How might this misunderstanding lead to future miscommunication?
You would use simple words Thinkknew. You mostyou could they about the way probably explainneed a computerto this won’t how to simplify works to a two year old. How but this level with your buddy, would you simplify way of illustrating is a helpful your language to help them understand? the language barrier.Simplifying your language is not easy. It takes time and practice. Youmay even feel a little silly.However, simplifying your language when appropriate will help yourbuddy understand, which will in turn increase their confidence speakingEnglish.
How can you simplify language? Refrain from using long words Speak slowly and as clearly as possible Stress important words Don’t be afraid to repeat yourselfIf a student keeps making the same mistake correctthem. They want to improve their English and theywon’t mind being corrected now and again.
Other ways of communicatingNon verbal communication is just as, if notmore important than verbal communication.Think about your bodylanguage, posture, eye contact, facialexpressions, gestures and tone of voice whentalking.If you are really struggling to communicatewith your students try some of the following:•Write it down•Use your hands to reinforce what you aresaying•Use your facial expressions to reinforce whatyou are saying•Try using different words or rephrase yoursentences
What is Culture Shock?Culture shock is a condition of disorientationaffecting someone who is suddenly exposed to anunfamiliar culture or way of life or set of attitudes.International students are particularlyvulnerable, compared to home students becausethey are more isolated and lack their immediatesupport system.
What Causes Culture Shock?Cultural Differences! Climate Rules of Behaviour Values Dress Language Food Social Roles
The Honeymoon Stage: The individual is very positive about the culture, is overwhelmed with impressions, finds the culture exotic and is fascinated by it. The individual The Independence Stage: is largely passive and doesnt confrontThe individual enjoys being in the culture.the culture functions easily in The Disintegration Stage:the culture prefers certain The individual begins toculture behaviour to that of interact with the culture, findshis/her own culture, adopts the behaviour of the peoplecertain behaviours as their unusual andown. unpredictable, begins to dislike Stages of Culture the culture/reacts to the behaviour, feels anxiety begins Shock to withdraw begins to criticize the culture/people. TheThe Autonomy Stage: individual begins to feel lonelyThe individual begins to without the support of friendsunderstand more of the and family.behaviours of the people, feelsmore comfortable living The Re-integration Stage:in/encountering the culture The individual begins to reject thefeels less isolated regains his/her differences they are encountering.sense of humour. They are angry/might not like the new environment they are in but are getting more used to the change.
What are the Symptoms of Culture Shock? Lethargy Boredom Withdrawal Hostility Homesicknesstoward local people Excessive Irritability Sleeping Irrational Anger
What should you do if someone is suffering from culture shock? Encouragethem to get Be there to more support and involved in reassure University them. If they are suffering life. very badly and you do not feel in a Invite them to position to activities with help, direct them to you and get the Student Welfare them to speak Service or tell the about how they Coordinator. feel.