CULTURAL DIFFERENCES Most European countries have multi-racial societies owing both to historical and geographical factors. Military conquests, persecution and economic hardship have all contributed to waves of immigration. Early British history highlights the influence of the Romans, the Vikings, the Saxons and the Normans. More recently, we have opened our doors to people from our former colonies seeking jobs, refugees seeking political asylum and other members of the European Community. Racial integration has been successful in many areas of Britain. Intermarriage between people of similar cultures is now very common. The popularity of Chinese and Indian food and support for events such as the Notting Hill Carnival show a further acceptance of cultural differences. However, good race relations have proved more difficult where there has been large-scale immigration involving dissimilar cultures, especially in areas of social deprivation - for example, where there is poor housing and high unemployment. Not only do immigrants become scapegoats for the problems of these areas, but they, themselves, may be reluctant to integrate for reasons of religion or cultural identity. CULTURAL DIFFERENCES A: What do you think is the problem between the English and the Americans? B: That's a very interesting question, because both nationalities share a common language and are usually on the same side in war-time, yet they rarely speak well of one another on a personal level. A: Are we talking about a struggle for superiority? B: Yes, but we measure our superiority in different ways. Ours is cultural and historical. We believe we're more civilized. We're the country of Shakespeare and the industrial revolution. Americans visit England in search of culture and history. A: So in what ways are they superior? B: Well, obviously in size. Everything's bigger - their country, their salaries, their roads, their companies. Theirs is the land of MacDonald's, Coca Cola, Microsoft and IBM. They enjoy telling us that they're the best. A: And are they right? B: Yes, if you measure success purely in dollars, but there are two points here. Firstly, many English people actually believe that "Small is Beautiful". They prefer countries where you don't get mugged in parks and subways. A: What's the other point? B: I was coming to that. It's the difference in character. Maybe you think you're the best in the world, but you don't go shouting about it from the rooftops. Americans lack our modesty and reserve. They're probably warmer and more friendly, but they're often very loud and extrovert to go with it. A: So you prefer the British character? B: Not entirely. We tend to be rather oblique in our conversation. When Americans speak, you can take them literally, but when English people speak you have to read between the lines. A: We say one thing and mean another? B: Exactly. Some Perceptions of Americans Europe & especially England. "Americans are stupid and unsubtle (não refinados). And they are fat and bad dressers." Finland. "Americans always want to say your name: 'That's a nice tie, Mikko. Hi Mikko, how are you Mikko' Indian. "Americans are always in a hurry. Just watch the way they walk down the street." Kenyan. "Americans are distant. They are not really close to other people -- even other Americans." Turkey. "Once we were out in a rural area in the middle of nowhere and saw an American come to a stop sign. Though he could see in both directions for miles, and there was no traffic, he still stopped!" Colombia. "In the United States, they think that life is only work." Indonesia. "In the United States everything has to be talked about and analyzed. Even the littlest thing has to be 'Why, why why?'." Ethiopia. "The American is very explicit. He wants a 'yes' or 'no'. If someone tries to speak figuratively, the American is confused." Iran. "The first time my American professor told me 'I don't know, I will have to look it up', I was shocked. I asked myself 'Why is he teaching me?'" Having in mind the ideas in the texts above, answer the following questions in one paragraph. Don't forget the conjunctions that will make your text cohesive. But - However - nevertheless - so - therefore - thus - consequently - then - hence - Although/though - Even though - in spite of/despite - besides - moreover - furthermore - because - as - since - for - and –nor –or – yet – both...and... - either...or... - neither...nor... - not only...but also... - whether...or... - as - if - in order to - like - so that - unless – while. Discussion questions 1. "Cultural differences cause problems. It is better for people to stay in their own countries rather than to migrate to other ones." Do you agree? 2. Would you prefer to live in a monoculture or a multi-racial society? Why? 3. "It is better to study major international languages like English rather than to spend time on minority languages for the sake of regional identity." Do you agree? 4. Is it better to marry someone of the same cultural background? 5. How do you think "British Culture" differs from "N. American Culture"? How do these cultures differ from the culture of your own country?