This video, with Professor Adrian Holliday, is an excerpt from a two-hour workshop filmed at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. One of the themes is about two language students, Beata and Kira who are faced with foreign cultural content in a textbook. In the workshop Adrian uses his grammar of culture to discuss and make sense of the different issues.

Below is the third video in the series together with Professor Holliday's accompanying text.

Video 3: Finding positive connections

Underlying universal cultural processes

We all share the ability to read and work with culture wherever we find it. We do this when we travel and make sense of things, and when we read novels and watch movies about other places and other times. Sometimes we can see things in other people’s cultural environments which they cannot. Culture also forms between small groups of people on a daily basis as we make sense of how to behave. This is small culture formation on the go.

Beata is building a small culture with the textbook as she works out how to interact with it. But she could do this in a more positive way if she didn’t build such extreme or essentialist images. She is not helping herself by pushing more creative possibilities to the margins.

Kira finds a different way to make sense of the friends in the textbook splitting the bill. She also uses her own cultural background to help her. But, unlike Beata, she looks for positive clues. She remembers that she and her brothers and sisters share the household chores that their mother gives them. This helps her find something of herself in the seemingly foreign cultural practice of splitting the bill.

Kira also recalls how she puts up with cultural practices she doesn’t like in her own society. She doesn’t like it when her friends next door call their parents by their given names. Kira is able to disapprove while still being on good terms with them. This helps her to understand that she doesn’t have to be like the people in the textbook but can still learn English. We don’t need to go further than the family next door to encounter cultural difference, even in our own society. We learn to deal with this while still being ourselves.

Where Beata forms exaggerated images of ‘her culture’ and ‘their culture', Kira relates the textbook to the complexity of her own society.

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