Cultural Gaps

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Answer the following questions.

Speaking English : Culture

  1. What’s your favorite thing about your culture?
  2. What don’t you like about your culture?
  3. Do you think culture is important?
  4. How are elders treated in your culture?
  5. What kind of things are considered rude in your culture?
  6. Is there any music that defines your culture?
Listen to the short passage about cultural gaps.

Useful Expressions

Match the related choices.

My wife divorced me. Life is terrible.

2. I’m out of my element.

3. How are you doing?

4. My heart is heavy.

5. Sometimes I just need to talk with someone.

Listening & Speaking

Model Dialog 
Listen as the teacher reads the model dialog.
(Scenario – Jose, from the Mexican countryside, is at a bar in NYC, talking with his friend Mike.)

Mike: How are you adapting to the Big Apple?
Jose: Not good. I’ve been depressed lately.
Mike: I’m sorry to hear that. Are things getting you down?
Jose: I don’t know what it is. I feel like I am out of my element. Sometimes I get dizzy and feel like the room is spinning.
Mike: You’re probably experiencing culture shock. Don’t worry. Things will get better in time.
Jose: I do miss my family, home-cooked meals, the farm animals, and the peaceful starry nights, to mention a few things.
Mike: Want to rent a Mexican movie in Spanish? That might cheer you up.
Jose: That’s a good idea. My heart is heavy for home, so that just might work.
Mike: How about going to Taco Bell for some authentic Mexican food? Ha, ha, ha, just joking.
Jose: Funny, funny, funny, you’re a good guy. Thanks for being my friend.
Mike: No problem. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m always available.

Guided Speaking

Complete the dialog, and practice it, changing roles with a partner.
(Scenario – Frank is in a bar, where he meets a friendly stranger.)

The room is spinning - I've been depressed lately - I'm out of my element - Are things getting you down  - My heart is heavy

Frank : (1)    so I am going to get drunk.
Stranger: (2)            ?
Frank: They certainly are. (3)        on this planet.
I need to get back to Earth.
Stranger: I know what you mean. There is a huge cultural gap. I’ve been here for ten years and I still don’t feel quite right.
Frank: Bartender, give me a bottle of whiskey and two glasses for me and my friend here.
Stranger: Let’s get good and drunk. (4)    . I just heard my
daughter got married and she didn’t invite me. (time passes)
Frank: Well, I’m drunk. (5)        .
Stranger: Spinning! It is! The bar is inside a super tornado!


Line Graphs
Study the graph, and learn what phases of culture shock people undergo in a new place.

English Speaking : Culture
When you move to a new place, it is normal to experience culture shock at some point. In general,
there are four stages of culture shock: the Honeymoon Phase, the “Everything is awful” (hostility) phase, the “Everything is OK” (humor) phase, and the “Feeling at home” (enthusiasm) phase.

1. Look at the curve in the graph above, and complete the sentences below to describe it.

a. In the first phase, generally called the        phase, people feel very positive about the culture.
b. The excitement diminishes toward a normal mood level     after moving to a new
c. The hostility stage hits bottom during the    and     months.

Grammar Focus (be going to and will)

•  I’m going to buy you lunch.
• I am going to wear my black high heels with tight jeans and a tank-top.
• I will try on the blue blouse.
• I will give you $500 for the car damage.

Reading and Discussions

Read the following reading passage, and answer the questions.
Use the words provided below each question.

Cultural Gap

Though often confused, the meaning of the words “culture” and “society” are a little different. Society results from the organized interaction among people living in a geographical or political region.
Culture is the shared way of life of a particular group of people. The values, beliefs, behaviors, and physical objects that a group shares, make up its culture.
Culture has two distinct aspects: spiritual and material. The spiritual aspect includes values, ideas, and beliefs. These could be anything from Capitalism to Confucianism. The material aspect, meanwhile, includes tangible things from pyramids to lawn mowers.
For millennia, human cultures have adapted to their environments in unique and astonishing ways. Some cultures choose to evolve at the pace of their environment. This may be so that they can conserve resources. Cultures that choose rapid change also choose unlimited use of resources. Each
culture must eventually make one of these two choices. The result is two groups of cultures with opposing lifestyles.
One result of this conflict is “cultural gap” or “culture shock.” Imagine modern city people stranded in a nature-based culture. They might need to learn to accept nudity or to eat uncooked foods. Now imagine traditional people stranded in a modern urban culture. They would likely be overwhelmed at the dizzying pace of modern life. They might also feel helpless without their usual supportive matrix of people, plants, and animals.

 capitalism: a system where economic decisions are made by competition in a free market
Confucianism: values based on the teachings of Confucius, a great Chinese thinker
astonishing: surprising
nudity: the state of being without covering of any kind
dizzying: making somebody feel giddy

1. According to the reading passage, what is the definition of culture?

way of life, group, values, belief, behavior, physical
Your answer may begin like:
Culture is the shared way of life ....

2. Where do you think cultural gaps exist?
age, gender, status, rural, urban, bridge, understand
Your answer may begin like:
Cultural gaps, I think, are not only about foreign countries. Within a single country, ....

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