Helping our students deal with cultural differences they may encounter.
This very simple lesson is designed to stimulate conversation about cultural differences. It should also help students see cultural differences from a point of view other than their own and stimulate empathy and tolerance for cultural differences they experience. It is based on a short video exemplifying the effect of every day cultural misunderstandings and a list of advice for foreigners coming to Korea found on the ever awesome blog of @michaelegriffin

Level - Intermediate, Advanced
Age - Teens -> Adults
Skills - Speaking, listening. reading, writing
Time - 50 -> 60 minutes
Language - Advice Giving

- Activity sheets (optional)
- Short video (below)
- Government advice for foreigners.(below)

Warm Up
- Ask your students 'if you were a foreigner living in (insert the country you are in here), what part of (country) cultures do you think you would find the most difficult?'
- This question of course depends on a lot of factors, but that is fine as it will help to stimulate conversation in the group.
- Once the groups are done brainstorming collate their answers on the board.

Video Work
- Now ask students to think about a time they have made a cultural mistake, if they have never been abroad or interacted with foreigners ask them what kind of mistakes they worry about making. Collate the answers.

- Tell the students they are going to watch a video about an American man eating dinner for the first time with his Japanese wife's family. Ask the students to note down as many of the problems he encounters as they can.

- This can then be used to lead into any number of discussions such as whether the Japanese family should have been more understanding, whether the American guy had a bad attitude and should have tried harder to fit in with Japanese culture, what the students would have done if they were in his position and the Japanese families position. Also, students could make a role play in which the American man and the Japanese father argue about what happened and who should have been better mannered.

Cultural Tips
- Split the students into groups. The students are going to receive a list of advice written by the Korean government for foreigners going to South Korea. Half the students will get list A. the others list B. I have my students work in groups to decide:
- the three most important pieces of advice
- the three least important
- the strangest
- the funniest and the most surprising. 

Of course, you could have the students categorise them in any way you want. (You should be aware there are mistakes in this list as it was written by a Korean person)

- Once they have done this in their groups pair the students up and have them share their information with one person from the other group before creating a master list on the board.

- Put the students back in their groups and have them discuss what we can learn from these tips about how Korean people view foreigners and what type of foreigners these tips seem to be aimed for.

- Now ask the students what they think about the language used to give advice, would they have phrased any of the advice differently? (the answer will hopefully be 'yes') This is a good opportunity to look at the differences between strong advice and weak advice and how that relates to perceived politeness.

- Finally, have the students work in groups to make a list of advice they would give foreigners coming to (country).

Wrap Up
- As a final wrap up, I gave my students time to ask me questions they had about Western/British culture and my experiences of cultures around the world. Tod o this I put the students in pairs and gave them 5 minutes to prepare questions. The students came up with incredibly interesting questions ranging from topics such as homosexuality, dating, family roles, proms, etc.

I hope your and your students find this lesson as interesting as we did.

11/12/2012 12:07am

Outstanding! What an excellent choice of video clip to introduce the theme of the lesson. Great activities, too. Thanks for sharing!

11/12/2012 12:12am

Wow, thanks mate, to have someone as experienced as yourself make a comment like that is awesome. :-D

11/12/2012 3:11am

Interesting and Useful sample. Thanks.

11/16/2012 12:06pm

Great video, Alex! We watched it today with my students. It's both fun and language practice. They made rules to follow at Japanese meals and gave advice to that man.
Thanks, Alex!

11/19/2012 8:49pm

Hi alexandra!

I'm really glad it was useful for you! I love hearing how other teachers have used the materials, I think I might try that activity myself next time I want to teach advice.

Thanks, Alex ;-) !

04/21/2013 1:37pm

Hi there,

This was one of the best lessons I taught. The students enjoyed the video immensely, we had some really interesting dialogue about cultural gaffes -even my very quiet students participated - and one of my students told me that it had been a "really interesting and funny lesson". Thanks a lot for this!

Alex (AlienTeachers)
06/11/2013 8:54pm

Hi Sorcha!

I'm so sorry for the late reply I only just saw your comment! I'm really glad your students enjoyed the lesson! I'm actually about to use it again myself with some adult learners!

All the best,


Jessica Zhou
11/10/2013 7:27pm

Hi! I teach English in college. Next week we're going to learn something about cultural differences. I think the video you mentioned will serve as a very good lead-in to the topic. But I can't play it on my computer. I wonder if you could possibly send it to me by email? Thanks.

04/08/2014 8:30pm

I found it on youtube by typing in cultural differences. You might put in Tom Selleck and Japanese dinner or something like that.

01/24/2014 11:53am

Differences between cultures have always been and will be! But! Yet we the people, and the difference between us is small!

02/20/2014 7:36am

It is really a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

03/02/2014 2:16pm

Cultural differences have all races and all peoples! But all of us are united - what we humans!

04/06/2014 9:35pm

I teach a multicultural adult ESL class. I used this for a lesson in cultural etiquette. After watching the video and answering the questions you gave regarding attitudes, etc. I had each student write an etiquette brochure for their country. I did not use the Korean exercise last time but am going to with a different class tomorrow. Thanks for the excellent materials.

3D Printer
05/13/2014 6:13pm

I like this Idea a lot. I wish they had tried something like this back when I was in school. <a href=" http://www.3dprinter-com.webnode.com/" rel="dofollow" >3dprinter-com.webnode.com </a>


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