Cultural Awareness

Cultural Awareness in American Conversation and

 Classroom Communication

Every culture has different communication styles, and if you want to teach in the American classroom you should know the following about us.  As Americans, we are most comfortable with:

  • Assertiveness without aggressiveness
  • Say what is actually being thought (with tact) 
  • Nodding indicates agreement 
  • Honesty and pleasantness are essential 
  • Personal space is 2 to 3 feet 
  • Eye contact means interest and sincerity 
  • Never say you understand if you do not 
  • Never pretend that you do not understand when you do 
  • Listen and follow directions 
  • Ask for assistance/information 
  • Openness/frankness is absolutely necessary 
  • Topics of conversation are almost the same in every country 
  • Avoid inappropriate questions – nothing too personal or private.  For example, we don’t ask people about their money or age, etc. 
  • Politeness is used appropriately, but not too frequently.  For example: Thank you, I'm sorry, Please -- no more than once or twice.  No bowing, ever. 
  • Hand shaking is used mainly at the time when people are introduced or when they have not seen each other for quite some time 
  •  Male chauvinism is a “no-no”.  In America, a woman is considered an equal 
  • Not all things are negotiable. Avoid trying to “make a deal” or ask for exceptions 
  • Acknowledge personal privacy – minimize telephone calls – respect others time 
  • Be alert to the clock…time schedules are important…meet your appointments/classes promptly