Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anna and the King, My Big Fat Greek Wedding & The Joy Luck Club: Cultural Misunderstanding

Talking about cultural misunderstandings is a topic we always address in our classrooms. Here are segments from three different movies, all of which are worth seeing.

A. Discuss the following questions in pairs.

1. What are the major features of your culture? How would you describe the people in your country?

2. Imagine a foreigner is coming to visit you. What special advice would you give him/her so that he does not face any serious cultural misunderstanding?

3. What advice would you give concerning:

- what to wear on the beach

- what to wear to go shopping

- what to wear in a party

- where to (not) eat

- how to greet people (kissing, shaking hands, etc.)

- What to take when you're invited for a dinner party

- how to talk to people of the opposite sex

- when traveling alone around the country

- how to flirt

4. What was the most different culture you have ever had contact with. How different was it?

5. What are some common mistakes foreigners make when they visit your country? Come up with examples.

B. Now watch the segment from the movie Anna and the King. Then make a list of all the cultural differences Anna experienced. She is an English teacher visiting Siam, which is now Thailand. Write at least 6 different items.

C. Now watch the three segments from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Repeat the process in exercise B.

1. The first segment shows the Greek fiancee meeting her American parents-in-law for the first time.

2. The second segment shows the American fiance visiting her fiance's Greek family for the first time.

3. The third segment shows the American and Greek family getting together for a dinner party.

D. Class discussion:

1. How do you compare the American and Greek family to your own family? Which of the families are closest to your own family when we consider behavior and culture? Explain it.

2. How would your family feel if they were invited for the Greek dinner party? What about the American party?

3. How would they feel if they were invited to a party in your house?

E. Watch the movie segment from the movie The Joy Luck Club. make a list of 5 cultural mistakes the American man made during his first dinner party with his fiancee´s Chinese family.





  1. Great blog you have here...I'm definitely a follower. Please stop by my site and follow as well...thanks!

  2. thanks for the conpliments. Your blog is great too and I'm already a follower. Men, you have seen it all!!! I will definetly check the new releases. See you.

  3. Really great exercise. I also attended your WIZIQ talk yesterday and want to say thanks for your work on these sites. It's really inspiring.

    I thought of a couple of ideas:

    Culture shock -BORAT.
    When he fisrt arrives in America.

    Cheating -SPYS LIKE US.
    In the test

  4. Oh and.

    Practical jokes -AMELIE
    Where she sets traps in the old man's house

    Home security -HOME ALONE
    When the burglars enter the house and encounter traps

  5. Hi Phil,

    There will be a follow-up session to finish what is still to be said - the session was cut off - tomorrow. Check it out.
    Great suggestions. I'll see the movie parts. I know Borat has lot of interesting stuff to work with, but it was difficult to find scenes in which the laguage is suitable to sts, I think it is to heavy, most of it. But I'll se how it goes and maybe add to the culture shock post. I hven't seen Amelie (poulin, right?) or Spies like us. I'll see them. Home alone is a great suggestion. Thanks! LOVE your suggestions. More, more, more, please.

  6. Thanks, Phil. You're great. I'll check everything out. See you.

  7. Is there any miscommunication in those movies?