Monday, December 21, 2009

tips & techniques to promote an awareness of different cultures

After reading some articles in the book Culture Bound edited by Joyce Merill Valdes, I can definitely say that my understanding of culture, cultural and cross cultural awareness is broader. Although I still find some of the articles too theoretical, I think it includes useful articles providing us, efl/esl instructors with some tips on how to deal with cultural barriers in other words, culture bumps.

One of these articles is called "Culture bump and beyond" by Carol M. Archer. A definition of culture bump is provided after focussing on some common situations which can be encountered in an ESL and also in some EFL environments such as coming to class late and submitting a paper late, etc. Archer then defines culture bump as a situation which occurs when an individual from one culture finds herself/himself in a different,uncomfortable and strange situation when interacting with persons of other culture. She further adds that when an individual has excpectations of one behavior and gets an unexpected behavior.

The definition of culture reminded me of the definition of culture shock. I couldn't differentiate them. After progressing through another paragraph I came accross a part where she states how culture bump and culture shock are different:

"Unlike culture shock, which extends over an extended period of time,culture bumps are instantaneous,usually over within minutes or even seconds though the effect may be long lasting"

From this definition, I could figure out the difference between culture shock and culture bump.

I found this part of the article interesting as well:

"...culture bumps provide a gold mine for the international educator. They lead teacher and student alike to an awareness of self as a cultural being and provide an oppotunity for skill development in extrapolating one cultural influence oneveryday life,expressing feelings effectively in a cross cultural situation, and observing behavior.The entire process is language in action,leading to general improvement in communication in the target language."

Later in the article some steps to analyze culture bump from teacher's point of view are presented. These steps are:

1-Pinpointing some time when you have felt "different" or noticed something different when you were with someone from another culture
2-Defining the situation
3-Listing the behavior of other person
4-Listing your own behavior
5-Listing your feelings in the situation
6-Listing the behaviors you expect from people in your own culture in that same situation
7-Reflect on the underlying values in your culture that prompts that behavior expectation.

In the end of the articles, some factors to be taken into account are listed. I will share them with you in my next post.

Have you ever had any students experiencing culture bumps? If so, how did the student behave?