Directions for part 2 of your assignment:
Select 6 of the critical incidents below and analyze them. Your analysis should contain at least three scholarly references each that pertain directly to the incident. Your analysis should be completed as formal written report in APA format. You can take the format of an executive briefing or a training session. The analysis should be complete and supported by literature, not an opinion piece.
After you select three critical incidents, choose from the following cultural orientations and themes as they relate to your critical incidents (may be more than one). Explain how your chosen critical incident relates to one or more cultural orientation(s) and theme(s) in your report:
- Power Distance
- Space: Private/Public
- Communication: High/Low Context
- Communication: formal/ informal
- Communication: direct/indirect
- Communication: non-verbal
- Learning Style
- Interpersonal Distance and Touch
- Relationship building
- Work ethic
- Gender roles
What is cultural competency?
Culture is commonly defined as a shared system of beliefs and values that shapes a group's behavior. People interpret the behavior and communication of others through their own cultural biases and typically will identify anything that is different from their own values as "wrong" or "inappropriate."
Communication styles are based largely on cultural values. One researcher who helps us understand cultural values around the world is Geert Hofstede. He lists the following five cultural dimensions and describes how they vary across cultures (Hofstede, 1967–2009).
Power distance is the extent to which a group of people accept the unequal distribution of power among different segments of their society. Venezuela, the Philippines, and Mexico have high power distance and accept the inequality in their societies, whereas Denmark, Austria, and the United States are among the countries that have low power distance, or low tolerance for inequality.
Individualism is the value that a culture places on individual rights and well-being, as opposed to collective rights and well-being. Australia, the United States, and Great Britain tend to be individualistic countries, whereas Colombia, Japan, and Nigeria tend to be collectivist.
Masculinity is the value that a culture places on assertiveness and competitiveness. Japan, Mexico, and Austria are among the more masculine societies, whereas Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are among the more feminine societies. Typically, the more masculine cultures will also stress a greater difference between gender roles in the society.
Uncertainty avoidance is the degree to which a culture is comfortable with doubt and ambiguity. Cultures that tend toward high uncertainty avoidance will seek to avoid multiple choices or positions. Greece, Portugal, and Japan tend to be high on uncertainty avoidance, whereas Singapore, Sweden, and the United States tend toward low uncertainty avoidance and are more comfortable with choice and ambiguous situations.
Polychronic cultures tend to value tradition and long-term goals over short-term goals. Countries such as Brazil, Spain, and China are more patient and less interested in time management, whereas in monochronic countries such as Germany and the United States, the focus is on "saving time," "making time," or "not wasting time."
Additional information about cultural competency is located in our course and at this web site:
You will want to conduct your own research to learn more information about cultural competencies for the purpose of this assignment.
What are critical incidents?
Critical incidents are tools for increasing our awareness and understanding of human attitudes, expectations, behaviors, and interactions. They are intended to engage participants at a meaningful, personal level as they examine attitudes and behaviors that might be critical to their effectiveness in the roles they are already performing or pre- paring for (in the workplace, in educational settings, and in society at large).
Critical incidents in intercultural communication training are brief descriptions of situations in which a misunderstanding, problem, or conflict arises as a result of the cultural differences of the interacting parties, or a problem of cross-cultural adaptation and communication.
Choose 6 of the following critical incidents for your assignment:
1. A student was not satisfied with her new class. She wanted to move to a higher class. First, she consulted the student advisor who said that she could not move up at this time. The student, still unsatisfied with this answer, asked the other student advisor. The second student advisor gave her the same answer. Next, she made an appointment to see the coordinator of the Language Training Program. The coordinator consulted the student’s teacher and the student’s test scores and explained to the student that, according to the guidelines, she was unable to move to the next level at that time. The student was still not satisfied and made an appointment to see the dean and then intended to talk to the president of the college. Meanwhile, the teacher couldn’t under- stand why the student did not just accept her decision. She also could not understand why the student could not see that there were policies in place so that no matter how high up she went in the college hierarchy, it would not change the outcome for her.
2. Jane entered her classroom after the morning coffee break and saw a group of students looking at photos. A young woman in her twenties was showing the photos. The photos were of a three-month-old infant. The teacher commented that the baby was very cute. Then the teacher noticed that the baby was in a coffin and, after a pause, commented that the baby had died. The woman said yes, and then the teacher asked her a few more questions about the child. The teacher was surprised. This group of students had been together for only two weeks. Later, the word “undertaker” came up as a vocabulary word in the same class. When the teacher explained the meaning, the student went on to describe in detail the process of preparing her baby’s body for burial. The teacher wondered if she should talk to the student privately to explain that some people might be uncomfortable with this topic. The teacher certainly was!
3. Sandra gave her students a grammar test. During the test, a student was looking at another student’s answers and writing them on his paper. The teacher asked him to do the test on his own. The student continued to look at the other student’s answers. The teacher took his paper away and threw it into the garbage in full view of all the other students to make the point that the student’s answers were not an indication of his under- standing of the grammar and that it was pointless to write the test if he was just going to cheat. The student was very upset and went to the office to complain.
4. My friend liked her class, but she felt that the teacher was very cold. She said the teacher just taught grammar and never asked about the students’ families or talked about her own.
5. Mark entered his LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) class on the first day and introduced himself to the class. The first lesson was designed to work on all four skills and to give students the chance to get to know their teacher. Mark began by telling the students that he, too, was an immigrant to Canada and that he was going to share his biography with the class. Their first assignment was to ask him questions and take notes about what they heard. Next, they had to write several paragraphs about him and hand it in later that week. On the day that it was due, all the students had done the work except for one. Mark asked her why she had not done her home- work, and she answered that she did not need to know about him. Mark explained that the assignment was designed to work on a variety of specific English skills that she needed to improve her ability to communicate in English. After that, she did not really participate in class. She did her own work and paid attention only when there was something that interested her.
6. Sandra is a fun-loving teacher teaching in the LINC program. At the beginning of every course, she explains the classroom and school guidelines, including the rule about being late. After about a week and a half, one of her students started to arrive late for class every morning. Sandra likes to treat things in a light- hearted manner, and so when the student walked in late one morning, Sandra said “good evening” to her and everyone laughed. Sandra had done this before with other students. The student ignored Sandra and went and sat down. Sandra felt a little annoyed and so she asked the student about being late. The student then yelled at Sandra and said, “You don’t talk to me like that!” Sandra told her that she should apologize for being late. Later, Sandra approached her privately and apologized to her even though she felt that the student should apologize first. The student also apologized but later stopped coming to class altogether.
7. Len teaches the evening TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) class. One day there was a conflict between a student who wanted to do more listening practice in class and a student who wanted to focus only on grammar. The next day, one of the two students came to Len’s office to talk to him about the class. She told him that she thought they had studied enough grammar and that they needed more listening practice. She assured him that she was not trying to tell him what to teach. A week later she invited Len to come to her home so that she could show him some- thing. He did not go. Then she sent him an e-mail, thanking him for his teaching and complimenting him on his looks. This made him very uncomfortable, so he made a conscious attempt to avoid her outside of class.
8. Jacquie taught English for 10 years in China and Japan. When she returned to Canada, she started teaching in the LINC program. She really enjoyed the multicultural classroom and felt challenged to meet the learning needs of her diverse class. She was, however, having a lot of trouble with one student who seemed very glum and critical. This student, 45, had a doctoral degree (also called Ph.D.) from her country. She never smiled in class and seemed to test Jacquie every time she taught grammar or vocabulary. In fact, Jacquie felt that the student enjoyed upsetting her. One day, Jacquie confronted the student in class and told her that she should change to another class if she was not satisfied. The student didn’t leave after this confrontation but seemed more content and did not second- guess Jacquie after that.
9. There is a student in my class who is always late. That is not the only problem. When I ask him a question, he goes on and on and on and makes the rest of the class wait and wait. I want to tell him to get to the point. Finally, I have to cut him off because he loses track of the time he is taking up in class on his issue. I tell him that if he wants to continue talking about it, he’ll have to do it on his coffee break. He doesn’t understand our concept of time. We are on a strict schedule and things have to be done by a certain time; as well, things are scheduled to take a certain amount of time. I don’t like it either—I hate it.
10. It was break time and two students were having a conversation in the hallway. When the break was over, Janet called everyone back to class. The two students continued their conversation. When Janet asked them to come in, one of the students looked at her as if to say, “you are so abrupt and rude. You want me to return to class? Can’t you see that I am in the middle of a social conversation?” Janet felt annoyed.
11. George really infuriated me because when it was time to hand in his assignment, he gave me a whole bunch of lame excuses. It really upset me because I felt that he was not taking his work seriously and did not pay attention to the deadlines. I explained the assignment very carefully and put the deadlines up on the board—so when he made up excuses to cover himself, he really made me mad. I felt bad, though, because there was another student who didn’t have his assignment done either, but he apologized and said he’d hand it in later that day. He never did hand it in on that day; he handed it in a few days later, but since he had apologized, somehow I accepted that and was nice to him.
12. A man in his early twenties was walking home from school one day when he passed by a small group of girls of junior high school age. The girls laughed at him, and he felt very upset and disrespected. If he had been at home, he would have disciplined them right there in the street and then taken them home to their fathers and the fathers would have supported him. He knew that he couldn’t do that here.
13. A young woman had recently arrived in Canada ready to start a new life. She found the weather a little cold but still enjoyed wearing the same style she wore at home—tight skirts and tight tops that had low neck- lines. After about a month, she began to notice people staring at her. She thought they were looking at her because she was a foreigner. Then one day some- one told her that only prostitutes dressed that way. She felt angry and insulted.
14. A man was walking past a cemetery when he noticed something very odd. To make sure he wasn’t mistaken, he went in to take a closer look. He was very surprised to see two names on the tombstone he was looking at. One was the name of someone who had already died, and next to it was the name of someone who was still living. The tombstone had a birth date but no death date on it. He just couldn’t believe it!
15. Two women in their late fifties were walking along the street holding hands when a truck drove by and the passenger shouted “lesbo”13 at them. They were very upset that people thought they were lesbians, and so they stopped holding hands like that. They couldn’t understand why some people had a problem with two women holding hands. It is a normal thing to do.
16. Irene and her husband recently met a couple that had just immigrated to Canada. Irene and her husband were having a party at their house, so they decided to invite their new friends. When the couple arrived, there were three other couples there already. The man entered and shook hands with the men but not with any of the women. Irene was insulted.
17. A man commented one day that the reason there are so many single women in Canada is that they are lazy. His female friend was surprised and insulted by his attitude.
18. Peter went downtown to an office to pick up some documents. When he arrived, he went to the front desk and talked to the receptionist. The receptionist was very helpful and seemed to go out of his way to make sure Peter wouldn’t have any trouble getting what he needed. Peter was very happy with the service and thought about how different it was from the service in his country. About half an hour later, he was just getting ready to leave the office when he real- ized that he had one more question. The receptionist was not at his desk, but Peter saw him in the hallway so he rushed out to catch him. Instead of helping Peter, the man told him that he was on his break and that Peter would have to wait until he got back. Peter was surprised by the receptionist’s response.
19. Mary was working in a laboratory at the university as part of a work placement program. She really enjoyed her job and felt that things were going very well. She worked hard and took her job very seriously. Her work placement supervisor thought things were working out well until he talked to the professor in charge of the lab. The professor said things were not going well. He also felt he would have to let Mary go because there had been a lot of interpersonal problems since her arrival.
20. A woman who was new to Canada was placed in a teaching assistant position at a junior high school. One of the tasks she was asked to do was to mark a sex education assignment in which students had to categorize behaviors as sexual intimacy or not. The teaching assistant had to approach her cooperating teacher and explain that she could not mark the assignment without being given some benchmarks to go by because the standards for sexual behavioral norms are very different in this culture.
21. I have a lot of resistance to learning English because I didn’t really choose to be here. I had to leave my home because my life was being threatened and my family’s life was being threatened. I never really wanted to leave, but I had to because I was doing an investigation into some people who had gone missing. I can’t help feeling resistant to being here; I feel like I am losing my identity. I am a mathematics professor, but here I can barely express simple thoughts in English. I feel stupid. All I want to do is teach math again. In class I like to translate new words into Spanish—it feels comfortable, but my teacher gets annoyed when I do that. It is so frustrating to feel like I am starting all over again from nothing. I just want to speak my language and teach math.
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