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An introduction to cultural information

Cultural information contains both facts and descriptions of typical behaviours and attitudes. For example, it is a fact that May 5 is celebrated as Children's Day in Japan; it is typical behaviour of the Japanese to bow to each other when they meet.

The problem for the presenter of information about cultural behaviours or attitudes is to avoid the implication that they apply to all members of that culture. Expectations about individual people that are based on cultural stereotypes often turn out to be wrong. It may be true, for example, that many Japanese students dislike being called on in class, but the teacher is advised not to expect such attitudes from all the Japanese students in the classroom.

A further problem is that cultural attitudes and behaviours are not set in stone. With increasing globalization and the widening influence of electronic media, it is not surprising if members of the younger generations of any given culture abandon the cultural norms of their parents and grandparents.

With these caveats in mind, the information here is offered as a brief overview of significant aspects of the cultures described, particularly as they apply to older representatives of those cultures.

Note: The information in these webpages is based on the following sources:

Other sources include:
Crystal, D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press. 1987.
Crystal, D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge University Press. 1995.
Meakin, S. Languages and cultures in English-Language-Based International Schools. European Council of International Schools. 1987.

Frankfurt International School: Art and artists. (Click to see at full size.)