Key Unit Competence: To use language learnt in the context of Cultural diversity and African development.

    6.1. Describing Being in a Foreign Country

     6.1.1. LEARNING ACTIVITY Reading and analysis of the text

    • Text: Stages of culture shock Culture shock! You are lost, standing confused in a new place, unable to tell left from right, up from down, phone booths from waste bins or con-artists from friends. But this image of sudden shock isn’t quite right.
     In reality, culture shock is a phenomenon that can take months to develop. Culture shock tends to move through four different phases: wonder, frustration, depression, and acceptance.  The first stage is the wonder phase, also known as the “honeymoon” phase. It’s often very positive. You’re fascinated with the language, the people, and the food.

     The trip seems like the greatest thing you’ve ever done. It’s an adventure and you enjoy everything! The second is a difficult stage of culture shock called frustration, familiar to anyone who has lived abroad or travelled for a long time. You don’t understand gestures. You get laughed at or you offend a little old lady without knowing why. You feel angry often and miss your own culture. The worst stage of culture shock is depression. 

    You are homesick and sad all of the time. It’s hard to be so far away, especially if you’re all by yourself. It feels like nothing will ever be fine again until you return home.

     The forth is acceptance and comes after weeks and months of struggling through a thousand different emotions, acceptance finally arrives like a warm bath at the end of a hard day. Acceptance does not mean total understanding-it’s almost impossible to ever completely understand another culture-but involves the realization that you don’t have to “get” it all. You find what makes you happy and content in your new surroundings.
    Extracted from English for Rwanda Schools by SDB Publishers

    • Comprehension questions
    1. State the phases that culture shock moves through.
    2. Describe the feeling that a person has in the wonder phase.
    3. How does a person feel during the frustration phase?
    4. What is the feeling of a person who goes through the phase of depression?

    5. Prove that acceptance does not mean total understanding in the context of cultural diversity.

    6.2. Comparing cultures 
    6.2.1. LEARNING ACTIVITY Reading and analysis of the text
    Text: Comparing Cultures 
    In trying to compare cultures one has first to establish some working definition of culture. There is a Chinese proverb which says that “the fish did not discover water.” Similarly no one discovers culture by staying at home. 
    It so intimately shapes our lives that we only become aware of it under special circumstances, when we encounter difference. Experiencing culture happens in the pluralism of cultures. We are not aware of the first until we have experienced the second. Culture begins to lose its invisibility when we become aware that there are many other ways of fulfilling the basic needs of human lives and of interpreting human. Not only are there different cultures but some are more different than others.

     The profounder the differences encountered in another culture are, the deeper the perspective one can gain on his own culture will be. My experience in China revealed ways in which my own resembled the European ones I had previously found so different. For example, in my own experience I encountered an interesting case of cultural differences when I was working on a women’s studies project.

     In the United States feminists were complaining that the marriage ceremony discriminated against women because the new couple was pronounced man and woman. The women was thereby “denatured” in some way by being shifted into a social role whereas the man retained his essential and primary identity.

     In France feminists were having similar complaints even though the French marriage ceremony pronounces the couple husband and wife. Complaints were still abundant, however, this time that the man was being given a full and more differentiated social identity whereas the woman was stuck in her original natural identity. 
    The obvious point to be made from this comparison was that the idea of “nature” is itself not only subject to definition but to value judgments. Looking back at this after a year in China, I am impressed not only with the differences between the French and American women but also with what they share when compared to Chinese women. American and French women reveal different cultural orientations within western civilization. 

    Both, however, have had to fight for their rights whereas in China social legislation of the fifties immediately established equality between the sexes. When jobs were distributed by the government there was never a question of discrimination
    in employment. In an attempt to overcompensate for past discrimination, the government provided maternity benefits for new mothers which are very generous with leaves ranging from six months to six years.

     With such a background Chinese women were shocked at certain consequences of those recent economic reforms. When obliged to make a profit, work units resisted becoming responsible for the cost of having women among their employees. Both language and culture claim special reality for what they carve out as significant, as “natural” even. We become aware of our language when we step out of habitual uses for a time, for example, when we study the way others use their language.

    Similarly to become aware of our own culture most readily we need to encounter that of someone else. To become aware of what related western cultures have in common it is useful to move into radically different ones arising in the East. Adapted from: The Languages of China, Robert Ramsey, Princeton University Press, 1987.

    Comprehension questions
    Approve and explain the saying “no one discovers culture by staying at home.”
    Explain how feminists in the United States perceived women discrimination?
    What did feminists in France complain about?
    How did French and American women come together against Chinese legislation?

    Do you agree that encountering other cultures makes us aware of our own culture? Justify your answer.

    6.3. Describing customs 
    6.3.1. LEARNING ACTIVITY Reading and analysis of the text
    • Text: Origin and importance of customs 
    A custom is defined as a cultural idea that describes a regular, patterned way of behaving that is considered characteristic of life in a social system. Shaking hands, bowing and kissing are all customs: they›re ways of greeting people that help to distinguish one society from another. They help maintain social harmony and unity within a group. Societal customs often start out of habit. A man clasps the hand of another upon first greeting him. 
    They later meet someone on the street, they extend a hand. After a while, the
    handshaking action becomes habit and takes on a life of its own. It becomes the
    norm to adhere to the custom, and customs are often followed without any real
    understanding of why they exist or how they got started. Customs persist for
    generations, as new members of a society learn about existing customs through
    a process of socialization.
    Importantly, different cultures often have different customs: something
    that is an established custom in one society may not be a custom in another
    society. For example, while one of the traditional breakfast foods in the United
    States is cereal, breakfast in other societies might include dishes such as soup
    or vegetables.

    Customs exist among all types of societies, including both more industrialized
    and less industrialized societies. Interestingly, their nature doesn’t change
    based on literacy, industrialization or other external factors. They are what
    they are, and they can impact the society they are a part of. They tend to be
    more powerful in less industrialized societies, however. Over time, customs
    become the law of social life. They create and maintain harmony in a society.
    For example, after handshaking becomes a norm, an individual who declines to
    offer his hand upon meeting another may be looked down upon and perceived

    Consider what might happen if a whole segment of a population suddenly
    decided to stop shaking hands, assuming that handshaking was a very important
    custom in that society. Animosity might grow between the hand shakers and
    the non-shakers, spreading into other areas. Hand shakers might assume that,
    if the non-shakers won’t shake hands, maybe it’s because they’re unwashed or
    dirty. Or maybe the non-shakers feel that they’re superior and don’t want to
    sully themselves by touching the hands of an inferior person.

    Because customs are so important to social harmony, the breaking of a custom
    could theoretically result in an upheaval that has little or nothing to do with the
    custom itself, particularly when the reasons perceived for breaking it have no
    bearing in fact.

    Adapted from Customs: Their Importance in Society, by Ashley Crossman, Dec,


    • Comprehension questions
    1. Using suitable examples from the text, define the term custom.
    2. Determine the importance of customs in a society.
    3. Explain how customs often start and become a law of social life.

    4. Show how customs differ from culture to another.

    5. Discuss the power of customs in industrialized and less industrialized societies.

    6. Assess the impact of breaking a well-established custom in a society.

    6.4. Describing traditional Rwandan Culture

    Reading and analysis of the text

    • Text: Rwandan Traditions and Culture
    In the Rwandan culture, it is considered extremely rude to eat in public. People
    are not supposed to eat on the street, in public transportation, and sometimes
    even during big parties in the presence of strangers. In addition, traditionally
    adults don’t eat in front of their in-laws. In the past, adults could not even eat in
    front of their own children and would often take their food into their bedroom.
    Some men would only eat food cooked by their wives and refuse to eat any food
    cooked by a housekeeper. It was said in the past that women were not supposed
    to eat goat meat, for two reasons: it would make them grow beard, and become
    stubborn. However, it is now believed such assumptions were invented by

    greedy men who wanted all the good meat for themselves.

    Going out to eat at restaurants is actually a fairly new concept that has only
    taken hold with the influence of foreigners. In the recent past, if a man or a
    couple went out to eat, it meant that the wife was a bad cook or that the man
    did not have a wife at all. Even today, there are many Rwandans who generally
    do not dine out. In the past, it was considered a taboo for in-laws to eat at a
    married couple’s house. It was also taboo for them to stay the night and they
    would have to find another place in the neighborhood to stay. Rwandans say
    that drinking milk makes women beautiful.

    When there is a beautiful woman, Rwandans might say that she must have
    drunk a lot of milk. If you invite someone or even multiple people out to dinner
    or drinks, it is expected that you will pay for them. When Rwandans are served
    a bottle of beer with a glass, they will sometimes pour a few drops into the
    glass, swish the liquid around, and then pour it on the ground behind them.
    This serves two functions: it symbolizes sharing the drink with ancestors and
    also helps clean out the glass. When a guest stops by for a visit to a friend or
    family member, it is expected that the host will offer him or her something to
    drink. The most common drink is Fanta or beer. It is considered very rude to
    offer water, at least not until the guest has finished the first drink.

    When a married couple has children, their names essentially change to reflect
    the identity of their first-born child. For example, if parents are named Joshua
    and Gloria, as soon as they get their first baby-girl and call her Simbi, everyone
    who knows them (friends, family members, community members, neighbours,
    perhaps even colleagues) would start to call them Papa Simbi and Mama Simbi.
    People hence start considering them as having enriched their identity and
    recognition with a family and address. However this practice was borrowed
    from other African Countries such as the Democratic Repuplic of Congo (DRC)
    When a couple is planning a wedding, the man and the woman separately hold
    numerous “planning meetings” at which they meet with their friends and family
    to organize and finalize the details for the marriage.

    One of the ways that the family of a bride prepares for a wedding is to plant
    a few banana trees along the road leading to their house. In the past this was
    done to show that the family was relatively wealthy, because it was implied that
    they could also supply their guests with banana beer from their banana trees.
    When a man and a woman share the bed, the man always sleeps on the side of
    door so that he may protect his wife in the case of an intruder or a problem.
    It is considered a serious taboo for an unmarried man to spend the night at
    an unmarried woman’s home. This is part of a larger discussion about gender
    and double standards/disparate access and opportunities: it is not acceptable
    for women to go out dancing without men. If they do so, they will be taken for

    It is forbidden for a married person to pronounce the name of his or her motherin-
    law or father-in-law. When greeting them or even describing them to others,
    people cannot say their name and have to describe them instead. They cannot
    even share meals.

    If a woman sews at night or in the dark, people will discourage her by saying that
    she is sewing her parents’ eyes shut. This is most likely to prevent women from
    straining their eyes by sewing under faint light. Whistling at night is considered
    a taboo as it is believed to be a way of summoning snakes. It is also a taboo for a
    woman to whistle at any time of the day for she would be considered as male. If
    you have the hiccups, people say that someone is talking about you. When you

    have a twitch on your eye or face, people believe it is a good omen.

    Extracted from English language, senior 6, by REB
    • Comprehension questions
    a. Explain five aspects of the Rwandan culture as discussed in the above
    b. Describe the wedding process in the Rwandan culture as portrayed in the

    above passage.

    6.5. Reporting a migration story

    Reading and analysis of the text

    • Text: A Clash of Cultures
    Ms Yusuf is a young Somali woman aged 19 who left Somaliland in late 2017
    following the death of her father. “After my father died I could not find anyone
    who could cater for my needs. In fact, nobody could provide the same support
    to me; so I decided to leave the area.” She travelled on her own to Yemen and
    experienced a very new culture from the time of her arrival. “The culture was
    different from the Somaliland culture I was used to. Someone had to accompany
    me when I wanted to go to the market.”

    After a difficult year in Yemen, Ms Yusuf decided to return to Somaliland in
    November 2018. “It is very difficult to start a small business in Yemen as the
    nationals will tell you that they are unemployed, hence how can a foreigner
    make a business in their country? The security also got worse and resulted in
    explosions in Sana, Yemen. You live in fear.”

    “IOM (International organization for migration) provided me with health
    support and transportation from Yemen and to our final destination in
    Somaliland.” In the future Ms Yusuf hopes to specialize in health and or
    technical skills. She wants other Somalis especially women to know that “life
    in Yemen is very difficult and only housemaid work is available. For women it’s
    very difficult to get out as you risk your life. It’s also difficult to use public taxis
    without anyone accompanying you as they could kidnap you; and you may end

    up being raped-who knows?”

    Adapted from https://www.iom.int/migrant-stories/clash-cultures
    • Comprehension questions
    1. How did Ms. Yusuf find herself in Yemen?
    2. Describe the cultural shock that Ms. Yussuf experienced in Yemen
    3. Why is it difficult for foreigners to start a business in Yemen?
    4. How did the international organization for migration help MsYussuf?
    5. What does Yussuf’s plan for the future?

    6. What is Yussuf’s advice to her fellow Somalis?

    6.6. Describing causes of migration

    Reading and analysis of the text

    • Text: Factors of migration
    People migrate for a number of reasons. These reasons may fall under four
    areas that are environmental, economic, cultural and socio-political reasons.

    Within all these, there are some that may be seen as ‘Push’ or ‘Pull’ factors. Push

    factors force individuals to move out voluntarily, and in many cases, they are
    forced because they are risking something if they stay.

    Push factors may include conflict, drought, famine, or religious based
    discrimination. Poor economic activity and lack of job opportunities.
    Other strong push factors include race and discriminating cultures, political
    intolerance and persecution. Pull factors are those factors in the destination
    country that attract the individuals or groups to leave their home. Those factors
    are known as place utility, which is the desirability of a place that attracts people.

    Better economic opportunities, more jobs, and the promise of a better life
    often pull people into new locations. Sometimes, individuals have ideas and
    perceptions about places that are not necessarily correct, but are strong pull
    factors for them. As people grow older and retire, many look for places with
    warm weather, peaceful and comfortable locations in order to spend their
    retirement after a lifetime of hard work and savings.

    Such ideal places are pull factors too. Very often, People consider and prefer
    opportunities closer to their locations than similar opportunities farther away.
    In the same spirit, people often like to move to places with better cultural,
    political, climatic and general terrain in closer locations than locations farther
    away. It is rare to find people move over very long distances in order to settle in

    places that they have little knowledge of.

    Extracted from English Language, senior 6, by REB

    • Comprehension questions
    1. State and explain the reasons why people migrate.
    2. Assume there are migrants who come to your home area. Explain how

    you would treat them.

    6.7. Describing cultural diversity

    Reading and analysis of the text

    • Text: Importance of culture diversity

    Why is cultural diversity a good thing? Culture is the lens with which we
    evaluate everything around us; we evaluate what is proper or improper, normal
    or abnormal.

    If we are immersed in a culture that is different from ours, we can experience
    culture shock and become disoriented when we come into contact with a
    fundamentally different culture. People naturally use their own culture as a
    yard stick to judge other cultures. Such judgment could reach a level whereby
    people tend to discriminate against others whose ways of living are different
    from theirs.

    People fear essentially what they don’t understand. Cultural diversity is
    inevitable since in our country, at our workplaces, and schools there exist
    increasingly various cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. We can learn from one
    another, but first we should have a level of understanding about each other in
    order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation.

    Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives
    within the world in which we live, and helps dispel negative stereotypes and
    personal biases about different groups.

    In addition, cultural diversity can help us recognize and respect “ways of being”
    that are not necessarily our own, so that as we interact with others we can
    build bridges to trust, respect, and have more understanding across cultures.
    Furthermore, this diversity makes our country a more interesting place to live in.
    Indeed, people from diverse cultures contribute to the development of language
    skills, new ways of thinking, new knowledge, and different experiences.

    How can you support cultural diversity? You ought to increase your level of
    understanding about other cultures by interacting with people outside your
    own culture. Meaningful relationships may never develop simply due to a lack
    of appreciation of others’ cultural values. You should avoid imposing your own
    values on others as that may conflict or be inconsistent with their beliefs. You
    ought to recognize and understand that concepts such as family ties, gender
    roles, spirituality, and emotional well-being, vary significantly among cultures
    and impact on behavior.

    Within the workplace, educational setting, and clinical setting, advocate for
    the use of materials that are representative of the various cultural groups in
    the local community and the society in general. You should intervene in an
    appropriate manner when you observe others engaging in behaviors that show
    cultural insensitivity, bias, or prejudice. You ought to be proactive in listening,
    accepting, and welcoming people and ideas that are different from your own.

    Cultural diversity supports the idea that every person can make a unique and
    positive contribution to the larger society in spite of their differences. Imagine
    a place where diversity is recognized and respected; various cultural ideas
    are acknowledged and valued; contributions from all groups are encouraged;
    people are empowered to achieve their full potential; and differences are

    Extracted from English language, Senior six student book, by Rwanda Education


    • Comprehension questions
    1. Discuss the dangers of judging other people on the basis of your own culture.
    2. Basing on the above text, tell how cultural diversity can improve someone’s life perspectives?
    3. How did the writer advise people who do different activities (restaurant,

    hotels,) in terms of cultural diversity?

    6.8. Describing cultural general challenges

    Reading and analysis of the text

    • Text: Cultural clash in expectations
    Gabriela worked for a multinational company as a successful project manager
    in Brazil and was transferred to manage a team in Sweden. She was excited
    about her new role but soon realized that managing her new team would be a

    Despite their friendliness, Gabriela didn’t feel respected as a leader. Her new
    staff would question her proposals openly in meetings, and when she gave
    them instructions on how to carry out a task, they would often go about it in
    their own way without checking with her. When she announced her decisions
    on the project, they would continue giving their opinions as if it was still up for

    After weeks of frustration, Gabriela emailed her Swedish manager about the
    issues she was facing with her team. Her manager simply asked her if she felt
    her team was still performing, and what she thought would help her better
    collaborate with her team members. Gabriela found her manager vague and
    didn’t feel as if he was managing the situation satisfactorily.

    What Gabriela was experiencing was a cultural clash in expectations. She was
    used to a more hierarchical framework where the team leader and manager
    took control and gave specific instructions on how things were to be done. This
    more directive management style worked well for her and her team in Brazil
    but did not transfer well to her new team in Sweden, who were more used to a
    flatter hierarchy where decision making was more democratic. When Gabriela
    took the issue to her Swedish manager, rather than stepping in with directions
    about what to do, her manager took on the role of coach and focused on getting
    her to come up with her own solutions instead.

    Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede uses the concept of ‘power distance’ to
    describe how power is distributed and how hierarchy is perceived in different
    cultures. In her previous work environment, Gabriela was used to a high power
    distance culture where power and authority are respected and everyone has
    their rightful place. In such a culture, leaders make the big decisions and are
    not often challenged. Her Swedish team, however, were used to working in a
    low power distance culture where subordinates often work together with their
    bosses to find solutions and make decisions. Here, leaders act as coaches or
    mentors who encourage independent thought and expect to be challenged.
    When Gabriela became aware of the cultural differences between her and her
    team, she took the initiative to have an open conversation with them about their
    feelings about her leadership. Pleased to be asked for their thoughts, Gabriela’s
    team openly expressed that they were not used to being told what to do. They
    enjoyed having more room for initiative and creative freedom. When she told
    her team exactly what she needed them to do, they felt that she didn’t trust
    them to do their job well. They realised that Gabriela was taking it personally
    when they tried to challenge or make changes to her decisions, and were able
    to explain that it was how they’d always worked.

    With a better understanding of the underlying reasons behind each other’s
    behaviour, Gabriela and her team were able to adapt their way of working.
    Gabriela was then able to make adjustments to her management style so as to
    better fit the expectations of her team and more effectively motivate her team

    to achieve their goals.

    Extracted from https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/skills/reading/upperintermediate-


    Comprehension questions

    1. Why did Gabriella feel disrespected?
    2. How did Gabriella’s Swedish manager react when she informed him
    about her frustration?
    3. Explain how Gabriella experienced culture clash in expectations.
    4. Contrast Gabriella’s work environment in Brazil and Sweden.
    5. What did Gabriella do when she became aware of the cultural differences
    between her and her new team?
    6. Assess Gabriella’s initiative result.
    7. Examine the positive effect of the better understanding of underlying

    reasons behind each other’s behavior.