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M.A. STUDENT : Liliana Lema Larraguibel

PROFESSOR : Julia Menard- Warwick

Arica, August 2010.


According to the readings we have studied in class, my own experience

and the ones from people I know; I think 'Culture shock' is an interesting

topic to be developed in an adult EFL class. We have all gone through

the stages this phenomenon describes and have sometimes wished we

would have stayed home when visiting a foreign country, especially for

the first time. But, on the other hand if we started learning English we

also expected to practice it in real life situations, hopefully in an English

speaking country.

I’ve always been interested in this particular topic but in this course I got

to think what happens the other way around. What is it like for

foreigners to come to our country as tourists or to spend a longer period

of time? What are the things that shocked them the most, how can we

learn to cope with our own anxieties by understanding that we also are

part of a society with different habits and traditions? To be on the other

side certainly makes a difference.

My lesson plan includes the development of the four skills through the

analysis of “culture shock”. Students will be able to talk about their own

experiences and think about others’.

This topic is of great interest for my students at the Academia de Inglés

in Universidad de Tarapacá, Iquique since they’ve all been abroad more

than once and pretend to travel or even find a job in a foreign country.

Therefore, I believe they’ve all faced these stages in different ways and

will be happy to share their experiences.


This class will be carried out in a pre intermediate level at the Academia

de Inglés in Universidad de Tarapacá, Iquique. The students’ ages are

between 25 and 45. All of them are men and work in the Chilean Air

Force. Their goal is to take the PET (Preliminary English Test) in

December and get the international certification given by the University

of Cambridge to apply for a promotion, a specialization in their areas of

work, or maybe a job abroad.

Most of them came from the south part of Chile. Their traditions are not

always similar in terms of food and celebrations (for instance;

Independence Day) than the ones we have here as Northerners. The

weather in their hometowns is different, their families are bigger.

They’re conservative, responsible and hardworking men. Some of them

are married so their lifestyles are different from the ones who are not.

They are good at sports and enjoy having barbecues and spending time

with their relatives and friends.

These students have a very good sense of humor so I use a lot of

playfulness in the classroom. Comic strips, funny readings and jokes are

common in the classroom. They also like to talk about sports and what

they do at work. They are airplane mechanics and really enjoy talking

about their everyday lives, especially anecdotes. Students have a very

strong intrinsic motivation, since they decided to take this course on

their own; they are very responsible and hardworking. The only issue

that I’ve had to deal with is that they are a little bit narrow minded and

want language to work as the Math tables. I’ve come to make them

understand meaning changes depending on context, but it’s been the

most difficult thing to do here.

The course is completely structured. This is an advantage but it also

demands you to follow it, sometimes not being able to include more

appealing materials. As a teacher I am allowed to include or modify

certain aspects, but the time is little and the activities planned a lot.

Besides as my students work near the airport outside the city and by

shifts, it is difficult to keep a steady pace since sometimes I don’t have

the same students in two correlative classes. I have to work with the

students that are weaker so they don’t get unmotivated and continue to

study in the course. Resources are fine but as I said before there isn’t

enough time to include technology regularly. In general, the course plan

works fine.


What I want to achieve with this lesson plan is students to leave their

stereotypes aside and try to take the other person’s place. To

understand that everybody feels lost at least once, that there are ways

to cope with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

When I was looking for material for this lesson plan I found this article on

the web from a magazine that helps students who are undergoing the

process of exchange programs. There was a sentence “It’s your world.

Get acquainted”. This message made me remember about the goals we

studied in class and were taken from “Culture in teaching English as an

international language” by McKay. I tell my students that they are

studying standard English, that they are being prepared to communicate

with different people from different cultures and countries who share the

same first or second language; English. So one the goals is to help

students interact in cross- cultural encounters.

In the paper written by Ros i Solé several concepts are explained such

as: subjectivity, cultural identity and adult language learners. When I

teach kids is not difficult to make them understand the importance of

tolerance and the respect for diversity. They live it every day at school,

the school I work in is full of immigrants and they are used to spend time

with people from very different cultures and backgrounds. But with

adults it’s different, they have some fixed ideas of the world and

sometimes it gets a bit difficult to break down these prejudices and start

developing the mind of an international language student. Sometimes

patriotism gets confused with a feeling of superiority. This course gave

me a lot of help in the form of ideas and theories that can help me break

through their prejudices.

In our analysis of this article we also took some goals to be achieved

when teaching culture, for example that we need to present a culture

made up of multiple subcultures that evolve continuously. This sense of

change that might be uncomfortable for adults is part of reality and

sometimes it’s difficult to go along with it but it’s part of the way the

world works and the system of globalization we’re facing.

Finally, I would like to make reference to the article written by yourself

(Co-constructing representations of culture in ESL and EFL classrooms.

This article points to the importance of letting the students now that

when dealing when cultural aspects and representations they should not

see speaking practice as just a chance to improve this ability but as a

way to open their minds and become better listeners, comprehending

what the other person wants and needs to say. Once again the need of

tolerance and growth from somebody else’s thoughts and experiences

becomes a MUST.


This course is divided into three lessons a week. One related to theory

and the other two to practice the language through the development of

the four skills.

Theory class:

In the first class I will ask them to play a game pretending to be a

famous cartoon character. In this game they will try to find out some

personal information about their classmates characters without asking

who they really are. Then students will be asked to discuss some

questions the teacher will write on the board, they work with a partner

to discuss them. After this, the teacher asks them if they have ever

heard the term “culture shock” and explains they are going to study it.

The teacher shows them a power point presentation on the subject. The

students will be given an article with experiences told by exchange

students who suffered the different stages described in the PowerPoint

presentation. Students read first in silence and then take turns to read it

aloud. The class is arranged as a semicircle and the students are asked

to share their opinions about what they read. They say if they agree and

why and also explain if they do not.

Finally; students are asked to write an outline on their experiences

regarding this matter.

Practice A class:

The teacher writes the concept “culture shock” on a circle in the middle

of the whiteboard then she asks her students to come to the board and

write any of the concepts they learnt the class before beside as to form

a word spider web. Students are asked to read their outlines to rest of

the class and explain them. The teacher tells them they are going to

see a PDF file taken from the web that helps Americans understand our

country, its traditions, etc.- Finally the teacher asks them to get in

groups of 4 and design something similar (a kind of handbook) for

foreigners who want to visit our country. They can keep the most useful

information from the power point presentation and/or include new one.

Most importantly; they should write a short glossary on Chilean idiomatic

expressions and a possible translation to them. This will be presented

briefly next class.

Practice B class:

Sts present their “handbook” and say what they chose and added.

Students are asked to write a one page essay on culture shock. They are

expected to include information studied during the week and their own

experiences when being abroad. Students are asked to exchange their

essays with a classmate and talk about them before delivering to the

teacher for grading. They can work on their computers if they want and

use a dictionary. They are also allowed to ask as many questions about

expressions, structures and vocabulary as they want. The students

comment on this activity as a class.


As I mentioned before my students are workers from the Air Force, they

have travelled a lot, met a lot of people but still have problems when

dealing with different ways of life, especially cultural traits. Their ethic

and moral formation as military men leads them to the use of prejudices

and stereotypes in society. In my opinion a huge part of making

progress in the use of the English language comes with an open minded

attitude. Language changes and evolves constantly and rules are there

for us to start comprehending how it works but nothing is 100% square.

I expect them to gain a major understanding on the effects people suffer

when travelling or settling on a foreign country even if it is the other way

around (people coming to our country) through the activity in which my

students will have to read “A gringo’s survival guide” for our country, to

be in someone else’s shoes and be able to understand and develop a

sense of solidarity.

I believe this lesson plan is effective both theoretically and practically.

First of all, the main topic is a psychological phenomenon scientifically

proved. Secondly, I took “real life” resources from the internet to show it

to the class. Besides, the article is deeply related to all the discussions

we had in class about the readings we had to study. In makes students

think about the topic and analyse their views on it. Although my

students like to tell jokes and play in class they are also very reflective

people and enjoy talking about serious matters that are present in our

society. Practically because I’m sure these activities will create

meaningful learning and will become part of their “stock” of knowledge,

it will help them understand language through culture.