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6 Cultural awareness/Intercultural

Competence/Cultural stereotypes

Course: Cultural Studies

Marija Andraka, PhD

using cultural differences to develop
skills that are necessary for
developing authentic and deep
relationships between individuals
from differing cultural backgrounds
being cognizant, observant, and
conscious of similarities and
differences among and between
cultural groups

developing sensitivity and
understanding of another ethnic group
this usually involves internal changes in
terms of attitudes and values
developing openness and flexibility in
relation to others
knowing that cultural differences as well
as similarities exist, without assigning
values, i.e., better or worse, right or
wrong, to those cultural differences

Developing cultural awareness

Developing cultural awareness

Stage 1
comparing the new culture (C2) to our own culture (C1)
at this early stage the two cultures are seen as completely
equal, with no differences between them
we assume they are the same, except for the language
My way is the only way
Stage 2
over time, we begin to discover little differences between C1
and C2
ethnocentric stage cultural differences are perceived as a
source of problems and people tend to ignore them or
reduce their significance
I know their way, but my way is better

Developing cultural awareness

Stage 3
at this stage C1 and C2 appear to have some commonalities,
but have more differences
synergistic stage cultural differences can lead both to
problems and benefits ; willing to use cultural diversity to
create new solutions and alternatives
My Way and Their Way
Stage 4
with time, we accept that C1 is not C2
we are able to see that although there might be some
commonalities between the two cultures, they are separate
participatory third culture stage people dialogue
repeatedly with others, create new meanings, new rules to
meet the needs of a particular situation
Our Way

a depiction of what happens when

people behave contrary to our
expectations, or we behave contrary
to theirs.

a depiction of what happens when people

behave contrary to our expectations, or we
behave contrary to theirs

cultural awareness

intercultural competence


the ability tocommunicateeffectively

and appropriately with people of
just knowing about the products and
practices of C2 is not enough
understanding its perspectives
part of communicative competence
included in current Croatian curricular

Michael Byram
Teaching and Assessing Intercultural
Communicative Competence
Language Teachers, Politics and Cultures (with Karen
From Foreign Language Education to Education for
Intercultural Citizenship
editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Language
Teaching and Learning

M. BYRAM: intercultural competence

involves five elements:
knowledge (savoirs)
attitudes (savoir tre)
skills of interpreting and relating (savoir
skills of discovery and interaction (savoir
apprendre/savoir faire)
critical cultural awareness (savoir

Knowledge (savoirs)
of social groups and their products and
practices in one's own and in another
country, and of the general processes of
societal and individual interaction
of the national memory of ones own country
of the national definitions of geographical
space in ones own country
of the processes and institutions of
socialisation in ones own country
of the processes of social interaction in
another country

Attitudes (savoir tre)

curiosity and openness, readiness to
suspend disbelief about other
cultures and belief about one's own
not assume that familiar phenomena (cultural practices or
products common to themselves and the other) are
understood the same way
not assume that unfamiliar phenomena can only be
understood by assimilating them to their own cultural

Skills of interpreting and relating

(savoir comprendre)
ability to interpret a document or
event from another culture, to
explain it and relate it to
documents / events from one's own

Skills of discovery and interaction

(savoir apprendre/savoir faire)
ability to acquire new knowledge of a culture
and cultural practices and the ability to
operate knowledge, attitudes and skills under
the constraints of real-time communication
and interaction
be able to use ones knowledge of conventions of verbal and nonverbal interaction (i.e. conversational structures, formal
communication such as presentations, written correspondence,
business meetings, informal gatherings, etc.) to establish agreed
procedures on specific occasions, which may be a combination of
conventions from the different cultural systems in the interaction

Critical cultural awareness

(savoir sengager)
ability to evaluate critically and on the
basis of explicit criteria perspectives,
practices and products in one's own and
other cultures and countries
using a range of analytical approaches to place a
document or event in context and to demonstrate
the ideology involved

What are the first three things which come into

your mind when you hear the words 'England' or
'the English?
fish and chips
bowler hat
Royal Family
the weather

a popular belief about specific types
of individuals
a simplified and fixed image of all
members of a culture or group
based on race, religion, ethnicity, age,
gender, national origins

a generalized assumption about

people based on limited, sometimes
inaccurate, but often easily available
based on second-hand information
rather than first-hand experience

A stereotype does not recognize the

complex, multi-dimensional nature of
individual human beings.
Finns are not talkative
Britons cannot cook
firemen are courageous
Scots are stingy
blondes are less intelligent
Italians are noisy

an individual's
experience with
groups, patterns of
about those
groups, and
intergroup conflict

the relations
among different
groups in a social
Who benefits from
the stereotyping of
certain groups?

Are stereotypes accurate?

The stereotype

Research results

stereotypes are
resistant to
exaggerated, and

stereotypes are
often accurate
people do not rely
on stereotypes
when relevant
information is

not true or false, but reflect a particular

set of ideological values
there is a common shared perception
about a group difference it may be
either accurate or false
suggest that everyone within a group is
the same

Are stereotypes always negative?

All groups have both positive and negative stereotypes
attached to them.

African-Americans are
great athletes.
Asians are good at
playing musical
The French are good
Australians surf and
spend all the time on the

African-Americans are
Asians are bad drivers.

The French hate

Australians are selfabsorbed.




in-group and outgroup stereotypes
The values and
standards of my
culture are
My culture is
superior to other

simple: In our opinion we are
projected: We think that they consider
us to be

simple: We think that they are
projected : We feel that they think that
they are

Do stereotypes always result in prejudice?

The use of stereotypes leads to false

assumptions about people and can lead to
misunderstandings, hostile and abusive
behaviours, conflicts, discrimination, and

lack of awareness unintended


rejection of stereotype

regard a culture bump/stereotype as

an opportunity - not as a problem
cultural intelligence emotional
intelligence across contexts
Culture is to people as water is to fish.

If they havent been out,

wont know what makes
different for an outsider!


English Teeth, English Teeth!
Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage
Aye, each and every one.
English Teeth, Happy Teeth!
Always having
Clamping down on bits of fish
And sausages half done.
English Teeth! HEROES' Teeth!
Hear them click! and clack!
Let's sing a song of praise to them Three Cheers for the Brown Grey and Black.
Spike Milligan

Start with looking at similarities- move

beyond the question of why "they" are
different from us into the question of
how "we" are the same.

Everyone who lives in Bongobongo wears yellow

sunglasses. Quite naturally, everything they see - the sky,
the trees, the people, the food - has a sunny tint. It has
always been like that and the citizens of Bongobongo live
quite contentedly in their yellow universe.
Into this world, comes a visitor, a citizen of Adanac. As you
may have heard, all Adanacians wear blue sunglasses.
When they wake up each day they kiss their beautiful blue
children, and they look out into the blue fields, forests and
farms, all of course, under a perfect blue sky.
Being a culturally sensitive visitor, the Adanacian feels it is
only right that he tries to understand the Bongobongo
perspective of the world. So he acquires a pair of yellow
sunglasses. Then he puts them on over his blue ones.
"Ah!" he says with some satisfaction, "Now I get it,
Everything here in Bongobongo is green!

The real voyage of discovery consists not

in seeking new landscapes, but in having
new eyes. M. Proust
.in taking off our yellow glasses before
putting on the blue ones.

Further reading
Byram, M.(ur.)(2003). Intercultural
competence. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
Lzr, I. (2003). Incorporating intercultural
communicative competence in language
teacher education. Strasbourg: Council of
Europe Publishing.
Valdes, J.M.(2001). Culture Bound (P.170178). UK: Cambridge University Press.