This show we will be mainly about storytelling as we meet the author of a book about intercultural communication and explore the art of story telling in Africa and as you will hear this does not just mean talking. We’ll be talking to the author of a new book on the grammar of culture and finding out the role of stories there and finding out some of the key features of story telling in the African tradition.
Natalia Pérez de Herrasti told us about the first volume of her new book called Grammatica del la Cultura, the grammar of culture. As you can guess the book is in Spanish. So why do we need to be aware of the grammar of culture? We discover that this is a way of making sense of the stories or critical incidents that are the starting point for so much intercultural training.
And now for the first time on Absolutely Intercultural you will be given a taste of African story telling. This is not just a case of ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin’. This is absolutely participatory. Oluwatoyin Kole from Nigeria was invited to demonstrate African story telling technique to a University of Florida class on Social change through communication. So first came a bit of pre-session training. Then we’ll hear an extract from the story which concerns a couple who have long been married but have not been able to have children. The husband consults the local diviner who says… If you want to experience the full story then you will have to follow this link. We also hear the start of the discussion after the story had ended.
So you heard the man! Let’s hear your stories. If you have any stories of critical incidents which happened to you or which you heard about and which made a difference to the way you think about things then let’s hear them. You can add them as a comment to this blog or you can send us an audio recording which we can include in our next show or we can arrange to meet you online so that we get a more interactive version.
Today is April 29th 2011 and is one of those rare days when an amazingly high percentage of people in the world will be watching scenes from the same event; the wedding in the UK of Prince William and Kate Middleton, so thank goodness for podcasts which can be enjoyed at any time which means that this 134th show of Absolutely Intercultural need not lose out to this international phenomenon. It’s a bit ironic that while the institution of monarchy is in retreat all over the world this event should attract such huge attention. But I think that I may be confusing monarchy with celebrity.
My name’s Anne Fox and this show is coming to you from Denmark where the two major TV channels will both be transmitting the Royal Wedding most of the day! Enough! This show is going to concentrate on another international phenomenon but in this case one which has the potential for improving the lives of many people. We will be re-visiting the University of the People which offers free university tuition to people who, for a variety of reasons, could otherwise never hope for a college education. As we find out more about this very different route to a university degree we will eavesdrop on everyday life in Haiti where the University of the People is making extra efforts to support their students there.
Even though most people in the world don’t experience going to university directly, most would have a picture in their minds about what this means. So I imagine that picture would include spending three to five years at a campus, attending lectures, buying a pile of books and maybe taking a part time job perhaps? Financially it might be a struggle as more and more universities are forced to charge fees; up to £9000 per year in England for example. It often also means leaving home and living in halls of residence or digs. But what if someone comes along who has a very different idea about what going to university looks like? Such a person is Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur whose big idea is to make a university education much more accessible by offering free online tuition using open source materials from elite universities such as Harvard and MIT through what he has called The University of The People. We first met Shai Reshef on Absolutely Intercultural in Oct 2009 and I was keen to find out how the project is going. Often on Absolutely Intercultural we are looking at the reactions of people confronted by different norms than they are used to. What Shai Reshef is doing is trying to produce a new norm, a new culture about what a university education looks like which seems to me to be an interesting social experiment.
In the normal way of things Shai Reshef rarely gets to meet any of the UoP students but the University of the People has a special project in Haiti where it is not enough just to offer free tuition over the Internet in a location which has been devasted by an earthquake. In this segment we’ll find out what else is needed to give people in Haiti the opportunity of a university education.You can see the video together with others from the same visit on the University of the People’s YouTube channel. So what do you think about this new approach to getting a college education? If you’ve been to college yourself would you have considered getting your degree in this way? You can add your comments to this blog.
Don’t forget to send in any examples of racism due to visible differences for our next show which will be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany on 13th May
So long … stay tuned!
The host of this show is Anne Fox : Editor: Markus Scherer
Culture is often bound up in language and language learning and in our first category, absolutely educational, I found a very unusual way of learning a language….
For those of you who do not live in Europe I imagine that some of you sometimes think that we exaggerate the differences within Europe but when I talked to Natalia Pérez de Herrasti, a Spaniard living in Germany, I was introduced to a whole new perspective explaining the differences between Spaniards and Germans!
And if you want to test yourself on your understanding of some of these differences then I’ll be introducing you to the intercultural games from Diversophy which you can get on paper, in the virtual world, Second Life and as mobile phone apps.
Another app which I’ve just discovered is Google Translate for Animals. You can get this for Android phones and all you do is hold your phone in front of the animal to record what they are saying and Google Translate for Animals will translate this and speak the message for you. Unfortunately this is only in English at the moment but it really opens up a whole new world for us to interact with. There is also a video demonstrating how this works.
absolutely challenging But we’ll start with an intercultural challenge. This came up while I was talking to Natalia Pérez de Herrasti and took me a little by surprise as it was not something that I had ever thought about. So let’s be absolutely challenging and see if you know the answer to this little intercultural situation. I’ll give you some time to think about that and reveal my reply at the end of the show!
absolutely educational In our next category, absolutely educational, I’m going to let you listen to the homework of one of the students on the Communication Station course offered by UIC. What was her homework? To make a podcast about the Gay Pride carnival in London during which she learned a couple of intercultural differences along the way
absolutely first class This way of learning English won first prize at the British Council ELTON awards in February for innovation in English language teaching and in our next category, absolutely first class So let’s find out how the students react and how you can sell this as a language learning course.
absolutely oriental Natalia Pérez Herrasti who is Spanish has been teaching the language in Germany for almost twenty years. Natalia got in touch with us to tell us about the new four volume book she is writing in Spanish about a practical approach to intercultural communication, but our conversation ranged far and wide and the bit I want to play now is when Natalia suggested that one reason that the Spanish and Germans are so different is that the Spanish have a very oriental outlook. I really recommend a visit to Liu Yang’s exhibition of intercultural graphics as they are very thought-provoking.
absolutely playful So images are one way of thinking about intercultural situations and games are another. Diversophy is the name of a collection of games which can be played face to face, online in Second Life or on your mobile phone. The Second Life games are free and there is lots of information and free samples on the Diversophy website. I’m hoping to be able to talk to someone from the Diversophy organisation in a future show so that I can get behind the thinking behind playing to learn.
And talking of playing to learn, have you thought about that little conundrum that we presented you with at the beginning of the show? And to make that into even more of a game I have chosen Natalia’s intercultural challenge as the snippet to use in the online dictation game for this show. By the way, did you notice the date today? One of the items I mentioned on the show is not true! I wonder if you can guess which one? If not, then April Fool!
The picture is of me holding our European Podcast Award, beautiful but heavy, together with the Olympus DM 55o Digital Voice Recorder which I used to record this show. OK I promise that this is the last time I’ll mention it! Thanks for the votes and thanks to the whole Absolutely Intercultural team which keeps the whole thing going.
absolutely lost Tingting Yang is a Chinese teacher of English and corporate communication advisor. There was lots to talk about but having done a Masters in Intercultural Communication and working as an intercultural trainer with Verge Cross-cultural Communication. There was one aspect of Chinese policy which Tingting was convinced has had a huge effect on Chinese culture and that is the one-child policy.
absolutely ‘merican Now I want to introduce you to Vicki Hollett, author of several successful English language learning books. Vicki is British but moved to the US about ten years ago. Her book Business Objectives, had been very successful in its original British English version so her publisher suggested that they make an American English version. We hear about positive and negative politeness and indirectness as used in Britain and America. To test our understanding of indirect English, Vicki produced a dialogue in which two people discuss what to do about a project which is behind schedule. Is the outcome clear?
And if you need a bit of structured listening or writing practice then you can find several different types of dictation exercises based on a snippet of that interview at the Listen and Write website.
In this show we’re going to be taking you to Nigeria, the Netherlands, France and the US. One of the great things about the Internet is the niche marketing it allows. One example of this is the radio show Culture Shock: Nigerians in America on Splash FM in Nigeria and which is also podcast. It’s billed as a new talk radio show connecting Nigerians in Nigeria to Nigerians in America and hosted by Abimbola Ishola and Kunle Ayodeji. We’ll also be hearing from Philipe Rosinski, intercultural coach for international business presenting his thoughts about why the coaching approach works in intercultural situations and later talking about some of the cases he has dealt with.
I’d also like to say hi to Nina Liakos in Maryland who interviewed me about a week ago about this podcast as part of her efforts to learn about how to podcast with the help of the Evonline sessions sponsored by TESOL every year in January. Nina, you did a fantastic job! It was a pleasure talking to you and very relaxing to be the interviewee for a change.
absolutely Nigerian So let’s start the show by hearing from show number 21 of CultureShock Nigerians when they asked about the types of experiences and impressions newly arrived Nigerians to America had. You can hear more by going to cultureshocknigerians.com where you’ll find all the shows to date since it started last autumn. Thanks to Kole Odutola who alerted me to the show and to the producers for allowing us to bring you snippets. We’ll also hear from a Nigerian comedian Seyi Brown and his experience of coming to the US in 2008.
absolutely doctoral Now if your interest in intercultural matters is academic you may be interested in a doctoral summer school open to any PhD student in the field which is going to take place in Denmark in early July at Roskilde University. It’s called Identity and Interculturality and will feature some of the greats in the field such as Michael Byram and Claire Kramsch. The 5 day summer school will concentrate on research methods and costs only 50 euros. The deadline to apply is February 28th. Thanks to Fred Dervin for alerting me to that and he is also one of the convenors of the summer school which will take the form of lectures, workshops and roundtables.
absolutely universal Another way of learning which is becoming very popular these days is through coaching. Our next slot features Philipe Rosinski who gave an hour long webinar on his experiences as an intercultural coach. The webinar was organised by SIETAR which is the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research and you can enjoy the whole webinar on their website for free. In the first extract, we’ll hear how Rosinski needed to adapt the coaching approach so that it was a little less American.
absolutely mixed Rosinski has written books about intercultural coaching, the latest one is called Global Coaching, while the earlier Coaching across Culturesdescribes the tool he has developed to help individual and teams find out their strengths and weaknesses in the intercultural area. You can try out the individual tool for free by clicking here. What it does is highlight your preferences in terms of a whole range of orientations such as hierarchy, multi-tasking, formality and communication styles and compares them to your abilities in those areas. In a team situation it would help for example to discover if half your team preferred to multi-task while the other half are expecting tasks to come one at a time. The orientations are those which tend to differ in different cultures and build on the ideas of the pioneers in intercultural communication such as Hofstede and Edward T Hall. I tried the test and discovered that I might have difficulty working in a very hiearchical setting for example. Let’s hear now how Rosinski could apply the results of the test to a team of Dutch and French employees involved in a merger.
Happy New Year or should that be Appy New Year from Absolutely Intercultural, the podcast about all things intercultural? My name’s Anne Fox and this podcast is coming to you from Denmark. This is show number 126, the first one of 2011 or 20 11 as I should probably start to call it. So why Appy New Year? Well in this show I will be introducing you to 3 so-called apps which could help you in your efforts to understand more about intercultural communication.
This is the first time I’m making a show after learning about our win in the European podcast awards for 2010. We won in the non-profit category and I just want to add my thanks to all those of you who voted for us and also to all those of you who have contributed to the show by speaking with me and Laurent over the years. Without you as our conversation partners this podcast would be impossible.
absolutely trivial The topic of small talk is often part of a language course, though not a very important one. But when I talked to Evan Frendo in Germany I discovered that small talk is actually a very important building block of working relationships. Here are links to Evan’s blog and his latest book, Intercultural Business English for German learners of English working in Asia.
absolutely useful? You may remember that in my last show we found out about South Korea from a Chinese perspective when I spoke with Carol who is doing a year’s study exchange there. What also interested me was how she was going to use Korean when she went back to China. So is Korean absolutely useful to Chinese people? Thanks again to Carol who got in touch with us to tell us about her Korean experiences. She certainly showed herself to be adaptable when faced with a sensitive intercultural situation.
absolutely adaptable And adaptability is something which Kenyan teacher, Samuel Osamba still needs to practice even though he has been in the USA for over 20 years now. Let’s hear how absolutely adaptable he needs to be in the classroom.
absolutely word for word I think that culture and language are closely connected which is why we often also talk about language learning on this podcast. As a teacher I am very impressed with the web site called Listen and Write in which language learners can do dictation exercises around short audio snippets often from YouTube videos or Voice of America broadcasts. Since we sometimes get asked for transcripts of the show I wondered if we could combine the two and upload short extracts from the show to Listen & Write for you to work with if you are a language learner. So the first one features the first part of Evan Frendo’s segment about small talk.
absolutely essential But am I right in thinking that culture and language are inextricably mixed? I have recently read a blog post by a respected English teacher who said that he didn’t see any reason to include intercultural communication in his English classes. Since Evan Frendo includes a great deal of intercultural communication in his classes I asked him for his view. Is it absolutely essential in language teaching?
appsolutely mobile After speaking with Evan I signed up to his Twitter feed and discovered a link he had posted about a language app. Apps are small programs that you can download to your mobile phone, tablet or mp3 player. There are thousands of them and I suddenly became curious whether there were any to do with intercultural communication. So in this final segment we’ll go appsolutely mobile (and I hope you heard my pronunciation there!)
So the first app is called Word Lens and works by translating any sign that you photograph. At the moment the only language pair available is English and Spanish so this means that you can photograph a Spanish sign and get an English translation or vice versa. Useful for restaurant menus I would imagine. The catch here though is that although the app is free, you have to buy the dictionary. But when it works, it’s like magic.
The second app I found was called Fasten Seatbelts and this gives you snippets of information about different cultures both in text format and in the form of short videos. Now this one is completely free. The first edition was a collection of Do’s and Don’ts for European countries and the second edition now covers a range of Asian countries.
The third app I found is called Cultural GPS and allows you to see the different Hofstede profiles for 98 different countries in the free version. In the pro version you can create your own personal cultural profile and compare it to any one of the 98 countries or compare pairs of countries to highlight differences and similarities. This is the one I liked the most and I’d be really interested to find out what you think about it.
All in all I think that this was an interesting little project but I have come to the conclusion that these apps can only help with simplistic culture specifics and don’t really help with the more rewarding culture-general aspects of intercultural communication. But maybe you know of other interesting apps? If so then do tell us about it in a comment here on the blog or send us an email. We’d also be very happy if you recorded something for us to include in the show. Well that’s it for this show.
absolutely urban Recently I came across an intriguing project called Soundcities. The project started in the 90s when an anonymous British artist known as Stanza started making sound recordings in cities all over the world. You can now go to the Soundcities website and choose a city or a mood and hear the sounds associated with it. Of course I went straight to the collection for Aarhus which is my nearest big city and among other things, found the familiar sound that the pedestrian crossing plays when it’s safe to cross the road. The project isn’t over yet so if you fancy going out and making some recordings then Stanza would love you to upload them to the website to add to the database. So what sounds would you record for your city? Well before you decide I’d like you to sit back and relax for three minutes while I play you a medley of sounds from a well-known city. The question is, can you guess which one? So where did those sounds come from? I’ll be kind and accept answers from the right country. I recommend you go to soundcities.com and play around with the map and the sounds that you can find there. I also recommend the Soundmaps mixer page where you can create your own cacophony using the mixer on the page. So where did the soundscape come from earlier in the show? I wonder if you guessed Asia? I wonder if you guessed South korea? The sounds in fact came from Seoul. I thought that would be the most appropriate to play for our conversation with Carol.
absolutely delicious I was delighted when Carol from China contacted us saying she’s be willing to talk to us about her experience as an exchange student in Korea. Carol studies Korean and English at Nanjing Normal University in Jiangsu Province in China. She arrived in Korea in August and we talked about various things including food so this is the absolutely delicious segment but first I couldn’t resist asking how she had heard about our podcast.
absolutely on time Samuel Osamba has been living in the US for 20 years but is originally from Kenya to which he returns on project work several times a year. He tried to leave a comment on the blog after our piece on the intercultural business webinar in October but there was a technical glitch. That is now solved so thank you Samuel for letting us know about that but also I was curious to find out more so I arranged to ring Samuel to see if he had another perspective on the issue of timekeeping in our segment absolutely on time. Samuel you’re quite right that Africa does not feature often enough in our podcast so if there is anybody out there from Africa who has some interesting stories to tell then please do get in touch.
absolutely critical I’m not sure that we’ve had recorded critical incidents on this show before but I managed it as I spoke to Carol from China about her year abroad in Korea. Listen as I get it completely wrong not just once but twice in the space of five minutes in absolutely critical!
absolutely back to front For our last segment I decided to play you one of the shorter sessions from TED talk. If you don’t know TED Talks yet then I strongly recommend that you go over to TED.com and choose one or two from the amazing selection of recorded talks by some amazing people. The TED talks are even starting to have their own superstars such as Sir Kenneth Robinson and Professor Sugata Mitra who both talk about education or Hans Roslin who makes statistics come alive or Jill Bolte Taylor giving a minute by minute account of a massive stroke she had. The TED slogan is ‘Ideas worth Spreading’ and I think they are addictive so watch out. The one I’m going to share with you today is by Derek Sivers’ entitled ‘Weird or just different?’ which is about how what you think may be true may not be true or absolutely back to front! One of our very first podcasts featured South African, Mark Anderson who went to South Korea and specifically mentioned this problem that the streets have no names. So now four years later, problem solved!
absolutely huggable Dr Gary Weaver explains how vice-president Nixon in 1957 was over-zealous in applying the intercultural advice his aides gave him to the effect that in Latin America you should hug people you meet. The sight of so many totalitarian rulers being hugged by Richard Nixon enraged many and made the case for the establishment of the Institute.
absolutely diplomatic Sherry Mueller, President of the National Council for International Visitors explained the concept of citizen diplomacy as something which happens ‘one handshake at a time’ and expresses her delight at seeing an old film of Elvis Presley as a GI arriving in Germany and being acutely aware of the effect of his actions on the image of the US.
absolutely stereotypical Roger Rosenthal of the Migrant Legal Action Program surprised the audience by dispelling the stereotype of the typical illegal immigrant. What picture does the phrase illegal immigrant bring to your mind? Listen to find out if you are just carrying stereotypes in your head.
The show ends with some comments from delegates and speakers about how the conference felt to them.
Many thanks to Laura Hash for recording and editing and thanks to the IMI for inviting us along.