Engaging with Culture in the World Language Classroom: Cultural Value Dimensions

In a previous post I wrote about Cultural Intelligence (CQ), which is based on  David Livermore’s research and posits that CQ begins with an interest that motivates us to learn about a culture and we use that knowledge to effectively navigate and interact with the culture.

But how do we gain knowledge about a culture that gives us insights into perspectives that influence behavior, traditions and practices?  There are 10 dimensions of cultural value that researchers at the Cultural Intelligence Center (including Livermore) use to compare one culture with another.  It is important to point out the difference between a stereotype and archetype in this research. A stereotype is the belief that all members of a group act the same way while an archetype is a tendency of a group of people to behave in a certain way.  These cultural value dimensions are based on archetypes.

Engaging with Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom: Cultural Value DimensionsI use these cultural values to engage conversations about culture that come up in classroom.  Rather than viewing our own culture as the norm, we reference these cultural values to gain an understanding of the perspectives of our culture and that of another country or community.  This framework helps to move beyond statements such as “Culture A is always late and Culture B is always on time.”  With an understanding of the “Time–Punctuality versus Relationship” cultural value dimension there is a better understanding of how to engage with a culture that is different than one’s own in regards to this  particular dimension.

I don’t reference all of the dimensions with students because it can get a bit overwhelming.  Instead, I focus on a few and they learn to words to reference them in the target language. These are the Cultural Value Dimensions that tend to be more approachable for students, though more are possible with additional time and dedication.

Engaging with Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom: Cultural Value Dimensions

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