How do you guard against stereotyping other cultures? Stereotyping fixes a person according to a particular cultural type. We all know the common statements and they are usually not very complimentary, such as:
The British are cold.
The Americans are loud.
The Germans are rigid and time obsessed.
The Italians are emotional, and so on.
These kinds of statements are damaging and take no account of regional differences and personal experience.
This is an activity designed by Ben Hammond at International House, London, who teaches Contemporary British Culture. It's part of a project called 'Great Britons' and uses articles and visual material to explore the lives of people who were nominated by a 2003 media survey of the most important people in British history. The project uses a task-based learning approach (See Jane Willis's blogs as the last Guest Contributor)and in the activity below Ben uses the lexical approach to teach expressions centred on explaining why people are considered important.
Do you teach cross-cultural awareness or inter-cultural communication? Is there a difference? In my view there is. In cross-cultural communication you don't change yourself but you learn about the other guy's values and behaviour and adapt to their style. In inter-cultural communication it's a two way process. My interaction with you changes me and your interaction with me changes you. In the process we both become more interational, as we experience a change of mindset. What cultural study is all about is changing from a monocultural to a multicultural mindset.
Day 3 of the intensive Business Cultural Trainers Certificate and we all agree that creating critical incident scenarios is an excellent way of increasing cultural awareness and because critical incidents are short and sweet they are often better than full scale case studies. But where to find them? Kashika Mueller is a British Asian, living in Germany and working with Russians. She suggests the following. Collect as many examples as you can of 'flashpoints', incidents of misunderstanding, and then turn them into 'What if...? scenarios. I.E. This problem occurred between X and Y.
Day 3 of our culture blog and Day 1 of the
three day intensive Business Cultural Trainers Certificate at IH London. This
trains business English teachers in how to research, design, market and deliver
cross-cultural training. Immediately we get a great ‘warm-up’ idea from Eleanor
Ormiston, an artist, living in Geneva,
teaching Swiss bankers. Eleanor takes in a small basket of slips of paper containing messages such as, ‘the most
exciting business book I’ve read this year’, ‘the best deal I’ve done this
John Mole, author of a very good cross-cultural book on the EU called 'Mind your Manners', said 'Any time something amuses you, annoys you or surprises you, you may be in the presence of a cultural phenomenon.' Dominique Vouillemin at IH LONDON has turned this into a great interactive cultural activity:
I am also really excited about learning from you and your experience and adding, I hope, a few useful ideas of my own.
I’ve been working in the cross-cultural area for most of my career in secondary, tertiary and professional education and have specialised in it for the last twenty years. Through my experience in the BBC English Department of the BBC World Service and through the British Council, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with teachers in their own environment.