Cultural Differences – Cross-Cultural Students: Week 7 6/7/2018

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During the video about cross-cultural students I found myself identifying more with the Asian students that complained about American students. It was said:

“‘What I don’t like about American students is that before class ends, they are always packing up their things while the teacher is still talking. It shows shocking disrespect.’ Another student from Asia said, ‘In America, the students have all left the room before the teacher is even done talking!'”

I find these two things very disrespectful. Our culture really values time. So why would one get ready to go before the allotted time is up. I understand if there is an emergency or if it was discussed with the teacher before the class began that they needed to leave early, but this is a constant thing that starts sometime in middle school and never ends. I haven’t seen this in any other culture.

As English teachers we must be fully aware of other cultures. There are several videos floating around the internet that show an African American student being “loud and disrespectful” to their white teacher. What people don’t realized is that that right there is a cultural difference. It may be the race, it may be the region of the country the student grew up in. The fact is, there is no need to be afraid. Get to know the background and cultural norms about your students. Not only will this help you as a teacher, but it will help build trust and respect in your classroom. Students will have a more relaxed environment because you are relaxed and they will learn more.

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Individualism vs. Collectivism: WEEK 6 6/7/2018

Individualism and Collectivism are two ways of thinking. Individualism is where people and their outcomes are mainly based on the internal acts or individual/self acts that one does. For example, success for failure may come from ones own individual efforts. Collectivism is the idea the efforts of a group or the effects of group/environment make up success or failure. This is a more interdependent look on life.

In the United States, most people are generally individualistic. They look out for themselves and their own success. They have a stronger sense self. One of the ways that you can see this is in the corporate world. People will do whatever is necessary to rise to the top. This includes making others look bad or taking opportunities away from others. While this is not ideal, a lot of Americans have this mentality that “no one can get in their way”.

In other countries, most people live in a more collective mindset. They do things as a group. They make decisions based on a family hierarchy. I have noticed this slightly in my husband’s family. The dad or grandpa has the final decision. I do think, however, that because of a newer generation, this way of thinking is a little old and most are steering away from it. Women are more involved in the family decision making. We can live as a more individual family unit. We don’t have to be so intertwined with either of our families.

Cultural Differences in Emotional Expressiveness: WEEK 6 5/29/2018

Teaching English to students from different countries and cultures has been so fun. I have loved my job and my studies. Each morning as I begin my classes with my Chinese students I ask them a simple question: “How are you?” More often than not, I get the answer “I’m fine.” They give me this answer with a straight face. A few months ago, I noticed this emotional unresponsiveness. I decided to do an experiment at the beginning of each of my classes. I wanted to know if their “fine” answers were a cultural answer, or something that all students said because they didn’t have the vocabulary for different emotions. Each class that I teach is a half hour long and each has a different age group and efficiency level.  The ages range from 3-15 years old.

I began the experiment by showing each class different pictures of people showcasing different emotions. Sure enough, most of the students could identify the different emotions. The next week, I began to ask students “how do you feel” instead of “how are you”. At first, students continued to say fine. So I gave them options. This is where I showed them the pictures from the previous week and asked them if they felt what the picture showed. The students began to identify with the photos and answered accordingly. The following week was the big test. I was going to try to get the students to express and show the emotions spontaneously on their face. Most of the students responded with “happy”. So smiles and laughter were my goal. That week, I had the most successful classes that I’ve ever had in my teaching experience. Each of my classes went from straight-faced “fine” kids to giggling, jumping children.

As I think about those weeks, it reminds me that each human experiences emotions, but each cultural doesn’t express them outwardly. In our own teaching, one way that we can help our students show more emotion (if that is the goal), is by building rapport with them and showing them that the classroom is a safe place to “let loose”.asia-1202527_1920

(Picture from http://www.pixabay.com)

 

Cultural Paradigms: Week 5 5/22/2018

America is known as “the melting pot”. So many families from all over the world go to the United States for refuge and the promise of a better life. My husband is one of these. We are happy to announce that today he passed his interview at the border and we will begin our process of transferring to the United States. His story is one like so many others. A man from a different country, with different cultural views, looking for the “American dream”. Currently that dream is filled with racism from people in the country. What drives racism is ignorance. People don’t understand and accept that not everyone is the same or believes the same.

 
In the video “Cultural Differences” from National Geographic, we see how the fear of some neighbors effect the way the men can live in their new “free” country. The neighbors called authorities in fear after seeing the group of African men walking around town. The authorities then told them that it is best for the neighborhood if they travel separately. Is this the freedom they came for? No.

Because of cultural differences, there can be many misunderstandings. Each country has a different sense of humor. In the United States it is common to use humor at the expense of others. In other countries, this is not accepted. When one travels the world, it is important to keep an open mind and be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting. This principle would be especially helpful for English Teachers. No, English is not the official language of the United States, but all through out the world, many are using English more and more. It is important as an English teacher, no matter where you are in the world, to be sensitive to the different cultural paradigms they may encounter. What is normal for one student may be highly offensive for another. I recommend that one way to get to know these differences is to open the floor to your students. Have a discussion, unit, or assignment where the students must present their culture to the class. This would be highly beneficial for the teacher and the other students. We really are a melting pot and must respect those that choose to come to America like our ancestors before us.