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Culture Lesson Plan


Teacher: Stephanie Ashton
Age: adults
Level: high intermediate-advanced
Language: ESL
Time: 60 minutes


Materials needed:

NOTE: The day before this lesson, hand out both articles to students with the assignment to read at home, looking for any cultural significance.

Learning/Teaching Activities:


Ask: What does "Individuality" mean?
(particular character and qualities that distinguish one person from another.)

Ask: What does "Individualism" mean?
(advocating liberty, rights, independent action of the individual; pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests.)

Ask: What is the difference?
(Individuality-can still be part of a group; individualism-seeking for self-interest only.)


John Lock (17th century English philosopher) said that the biological individual is the basic unit of nature.

Benjamin Franklin said, "God helps those who help themselves."

Ask: How does this explain the American value of "individualism?"
(Must rely on self, and seek for self-reliance.) Explain today's objectives.

Learning Activities:

give copy of Cultural Assimilator to each student. Let them read alone. Separate class into which answer they chose. Discuss it in those groups. As a class decide which are wrong and which is correct. Discuss decision-making. Compare with other cultures.

Expressing opinion:
In same groups have students read the critical incident and discuss what they would do. Report as a class. Discuss what would be done in United States. Discussion and comparison with other cultures. Competition:
Students pull out the article "Why can't a woman be more." Go over any vocabulary or comprehension questions student have. As a class discuss why women would choose a woman's college over a coed college.

How does it relate to competition and individualism?

Discuss the value of obligation. Who are we obligated to and why? How do other cultures value obligation?

A. Parents are obligated to support children, but for how long? (usually thought that children can support selves before or after college). Go over any vocabulary or comprehension questions about the article, "Show me the way to go home."

As a class discuss why it is significant that adult children are moving back in with their parents.
(American believe that once children become adults, they should be on their own financially and emotionally. "They are old enough to take care of themselves.")

How does this relate to individualism?

B. Watch "The People's Court" session about parent's sueing mother. Explain that this is an extreme case, but shows how self-interested people are at this extreme. Most American parents are not like this. Direct students to watch for individualism.

After, ask what they noticed. What values did the parents hold most dear?

How does this relate to individualism? Where do obligations end?


Have students observe then interview a NES watching for and asking about the values we discussed. Prepare a Culture Capsule (5 minutes each) to give in class tomorrow.


Sue Hansen is graduating from highschool this summer. She is trying to decide what college would be best for her to go to. She talks to her mom about it to ask her for her opinion.

"Mom, I'm having a hard time deciding where I should go to college? Where do you think I should go?"

"Sue, this is a big decision that will affect the rest of your life. You need to make the decision."

Why didn't Sue's mom help Sue with her problem?

A. Sue's mother really didn't want to be bothered by the decision making process.

B. Sue's mother wanted Sue to stay at home and not go to college.

C. Sue is in charge of her own life and needs to make her own decisions.

D. Sue's mom didn't care about Sue.

You chose A:
Sue's mother makes decisions all the time, this would not have been any different. You chose B: Most American mothers do want their children to succeed in life, and college is an important part of that process.

You chose C:
This is the correct answer. Individuals in the United States are encouraged to make their own decisions. It is believed that only Sue knows what is best for her own needs.

You chose D:
American mothers take great care in raising their children and caring for them.


You are in a meeting with your business associates. They are discussing the future of the company and some new deals they are planning to make. The discussion of a take over of a particular company comes up. You do not believe that this particular one would be very beneficial to the company. Everyone agrees that they are in favor of the move except you. All eyes are watching you to see what your response will be. What will you say?

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1997 © Dr. Lynn E. Henrichsen
Department of Linguistics
Brigham Young University
Last Updated: Saturday, June 7, 1997