How culture matters

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7 Responses

  1. Yoshiko Koby says:

    Hi Barbara, how are you?

    This is such a timely topic for me. I was teaching directions and locations to Ko-III at a high school last week, and this coming Thursday will be our second class with the same topic, using a textbook with a Western styled map. The textbook comes with a workbook as well, as you know, which has several questions asking “about you” as well. One of the questions with this unit was “Where is your school?”….. the question was too hard for my students to think and write the answer since their school is on a street with no name, and too hard for them to specify the location with the language skill that they have at this moment. So, I skipped the questions from their homework. (Their level isn’t high enough unfortunately.)

    2 weeks ago, our American friend wanted to visit our house in Sendai and he did, according to the direction Cory gave to him. It was clear enough and understandable, but also quite complicated compare to the one we used to
    give to friends who visited us in Canada.

    How interesting to think from different points of view, and how difficult it is to teach in a different language with different culture! That was exactly what I was studying in my university. So, Derek’s video was also very interesting to me.
    There’s no right or wrong to think of different cultures & languages. I told my students to respect that, and have them see things from different angles to understand the differences. That is one of the first steps to see the world……

    Hope you understand what I wrote here, Barbara.
    I always enjoy your blog and words on Facebook!

    When are you coming to Sendai next??
    See you then!

    • Barbara Barbara says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Yoshiko!

      I can totally understand the situation in your class. Once, when I had students practice asking and giving directions to places around town, I was surprised to hear them asking for phone numbers, rather than location. But, of course, the fasted way to find a location these days is to put the phone number into the navigator!

      Hopefully, I’ll be back in Sendai in October. I’ll keep you posted once dates are firm 🙂

  2. What a delightful post!
    There are lots of examples of cultural knowledge affecting reading comprehension here in Israel!
    Here are a few examples:
    * Pupils had trouble with the sentence “It was a hot summer day and raining hard” even though the language isn’t difficult because it doesn’t rain in Israel in the summer (only rains when it is cold!).
    * The word “student” in Israel only refers to University Students – pupils are puzzled by references to a “third grade student”!
    * Pupils are puzzled by stories referring to Monday Morning Blues – the workweek begins on Sunday here.

    Certainly a relevant topic!

  3. Daniel says:

    Culture definitely matters, in every interaction, every day. Here in Spain, people like to speak in imperative, which is quite annoying for people from many other cultures.

    I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve read about the difficulty of getting a clear yes or no from Japanese people in a negotiation.

    It’s important to fit your classes to their culture, but also to explain some of the differences.

  4. Cory Koby says:

    I do not have any great comment, but this topic reminds me of the sometimes competing realms of “linguistic translation” vs. “cultural translation”.

    As Yoshiko said, giving directions here is a most amazing challenge (thus the proliferation of NAVI systems!).

    Your topic here helps me understand why my “giving directions” unit has always been such a toughie!

    Keep up the great work (and words) Barbara!

  1. July 10, 2011

    […] posts over the past month or so have been from guest authors, I did make a few contributions! In How Culture Matters and How Context Matters I used examples from my life in Japan to explore ways that culture can […]