Introduction to Culture


This page begins with a lovely starter activity in which students make their own cultural iceberg. This is followed up with a detailed example and then students compare the cultural icebergs of the USA and Germany and consider one for their home/host country. Students then explore Fran Martin's models of how cultural identity can be represented and how it  impacts relationships of difference, before looking at a clipped TED talk from Chimamanda Adichie. Students go on to look at three examples of narrowing or widening diversity. The first is the process of 'Americanization' of the global culture, the second is Japanese 'hybridization'  with Western culture and the third, which relates at the national and local level relates to loss of language, due largely to urbanization.

Enquiry Question

How does culture vary globally and how is diversitywidening or narrowing at the global to local scales?

Lesson Time: 1 Hour

Lesson Objectives:

  • To understand cultural traits in terms of the cultural iceberg.
  • To understand important differences in culture and identity
  • To explain how culture and diversity is either narrowing or widening at number of scales

Teacher Notes:

Starter - Make Your Own Cultural Iceberg - Students should make their own cultural iceberg based on the example presented on the board

1. Comparing Cultural Icebergs - Students can compare the cultural Icebergs of Germany and the USA and then draw one for their host/home country

2. Intercultural Learning - Watch the video by Fran Martin and annotate the models based on the  multicultural relationship. Follow this up with a discussion on how power comes into play when considering cultural identity.

3. The Danger of the Single Story - Students can watch the Chimamanda Aditice clip and relate to the story to Fran Martin's models.

4. Americanization - Students can then study the cartoon and discuss what factors lead to an Americanization of culture

5. Americanization in France - Students can then watch the short video and discus how French culture is being Americanized and how this leads to an impact on diversity

6. Japanese Influence - Students can watch the gallery of images to see the different ways Japanese culture influences the global culture

7. Cultural Hybridism - Students can the watch the video on cultural hybridism through the example of manga

8. Urbanization and Loss of Culture - Students should read the text and identitfy how urbanization leads to a loss of language and culture.

This can be followed up with the video languages on the brink

Starter Activity_Explore your Cultural Iceberg_Processes

Study the diagram below and complete your own cultural iceberg

Cultural Iceberg

Open the drop down box below and see an example of a cultural iceberg with specific examples of cultural traits

Student Activity_ Comparing Cultural Icebergs_ Processes and Places

Study the diagram below and discuss the differences

Comparing USA's and Germany's Cultural Iceberg

  1. Annotate the diagram on your worksheet to explain the differences
  2. Make a cultural iceberg for your home/host country
  3. Discuss the dangers of doing activity 2

Student Activity_ Cultural Traits and Intercultural Understanding_Processes and Power

Watch the following video featuring Fran Martin's models of how different cultural identity can be represented and how it can impact relationships of difference

  1. Annotate the models on the worksheet
  2. Discuss how power comes into play when thinking of cultural identity

Fran Martin Models

Student Activity_ Chimamanda Adichie and the Single Story_ Processes and Power

Watch the cropped clip of Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk of The Danger of the Single Story about her American room mate and discuss which of Fran Martins' models was being demonstrated.

Student Activity_ Americanization at the Global Scale_ Processes, Scale and Power

Study the cartoon below and discuss what factors lead to an 'Americanization' of global culture

Watch the following video on the drivers of Americanization in relation to French culture

  1. Identify what factors lead to Americanization
  2. Discuss how this leads to a narrowing of diversity

Student Activity_Japanese Hybridization with Western Culture_ Processes and Spatial Interactions

Discuss the ways Japanese culture has hybridized with western culture. Make a list.

Following the discussion view the gallery in the hidden box below and add ideas to your list

Student Activity_The Influence of Manga on Western Culture_Processes and Spatial Interactions

Watch the following example of cultural hybridism through cartoon and graphic novels

Student Activity_Loss of Cultural Idenitity Through Urbanization_Processes,Places and Power

Read the following text adapted from an artcile written for the Guardian and identify

  • The reasons why languages are being lost
  • Discuss what other aspects of culture will be lost through urbanization

Language Loss 

Words of warning: 2500 languages under threat worldwide as migrants head for the city

At its headquarters in Paris, Unesco unveiled its first comprehensive and online database of the world's endangered tongues. According to its team of specialists, there are around 2,500 languages at risk, including more than 500 considered "critically endangered" and 199 which have fewer than 10 native speakers.

"We as human beings should care about this in the same way as we should care about the loss of the world's variety of plants and animals, its biodiversity," said Christopher Moseley, editor-in-chief of the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. "Because each language is a uniquely structured world of thought, with its own associations, metaphors, ways of thinking, vocabulary, sound system and grammar - all working together in a marvellous architectural structure which is so fragile that it could easily be lost forever."

The modern world plays its part. A once healthy language dies because its speakers shift allegiances to that of a bigger, more powerful group of people, and, while this can happen through political pressure and military force, it is now most often brought about by the flood of migration from the country to the city. Perhaps unsurprisingly, two of the countries where the risk is greatest are India and Brazil, which are undergoing rapid economic transformations. "[These trends] often bring about the loss of traditional ways of life and a strong pressure to speak a dominant language that is - or is perceived to be - necessary for full civic participation and economic advancement," said UNESCO.

Other factors in a language's decline range from the community's own lack of pride in its heritage or a sudden rash of deaths of native speakers to the spread of so-called "killer" languages such as English, French or Spanish.

The world is seeing revival movements. Inspired by high-profile successes of the 20th century - chiefly the renaissance of Hebrew as Israel's national tongue but also the reclaiming of Welsh, Catalan and Breton - tribes and communities in the remotest corners of the globe are fighting for the right to converse as their ancestors did.

Student Activity_ Languages on the Brink_Processes and Power

Watch the following video on loss of language and discuss the impact of loss of language on cultural identity and diversity

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