Friday, October 23, 2009

Cultural Case Study

When you’re speaking to an individual of another culture, you may know the language but could still miscommunicate if you don’t understand the culture. Below's an example on family and work values that explains why:

SITUATION: At work, Melissa (an American native and high-profile manager) has been frantically looking for Juan (a recent immigrant from South America and computer programmer). Finally, at the end of the day, she finds him heading out the door.

  • Melissa: Our top customer is demanding that we get their project done by the end of this week! This cuts our timeline in half so I’ve set a meeting tomorrow morning to go over the new timeline.
  • Juan: son just became ill and I was going to take him to the doctor tomorrow morning.
  • Melissa: OK. I’ll try to get a hold of Larry and see if he can attend the meeting for you. We’ll work it out and I’ll let you know what happens.
  • Juan: Thanks.
  • Melissa: No problem.
  • How do you think Melissa felt after this conversation? Frustrated due to having to take another step to solve the issue.
  • How do you think Juan felt after this conversation? Slighted/uncared for because Melissa didn't show concern about his son.
  • Did Melissa and Juan communicate in a way that fostered good relations? That depends on the person being asked. Melissa may have felt so, but Juan not. 
  • Melissa unknowingly offended Juan because the work concern was what she focused on and neglected to address Juan's family concern. Melissa may have felt frustrated because Juan didn't resolve the issue which gave her one more thing to address. The resolution? When interacting with another culture, learn their values and beliefs and be mindful of how they might be perceiving your interactions.
Note: Second (and subsequent) generation Latinos usually experience an integration of American values and beliefs with their Latin ones. For example, a fifth-generation Latino could easily have American, not Latin, values and beliefs in many, if not all, areas.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to find another person who promotes bilingual life. Me too! I am a big fun of bilingual education, bilingual parenting, and bilingual life as you are. Right now I am teaching my baby to learn Chinese, hoping she will become a bilingual in the future.

    Can we exchange link? My reciprocal link goes like this:

    Best4Future Blog: Bringing up baby bilingual!
    Devoted to bilingual learning, parenting and teaching!

    You can submit your link at and click "links". Thank you!


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