EnglishMeeting.com Discussion Podcasts

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Discussion Podcast 6, Cultural Obstacles


Differences in culture can be a learning opportunity or a reason for prejudice. As our world gets smaller, everyone will be forced to deal with cultural variations. How difficult is it to stay open-minded? Is it too much work to adapt or do we remain with what is comfortable?

This international group presents experiences coming from Korea, Mexico, Armenia, and living in America. Dayanis, Artur, Esther, Jihyun, & Dave weigh in with their real-life experiences.


  • heloo everybody i am artur and i had been present in these podcast and i really enjoyed it. i learned that American people tip to much IoI, and i also learned about other cultural obstacles and i hope my classemate liked it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:38 PM, May 26, 2006  

  • the above comment is mine


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:00 PM, May 26, 2006  

  • I agree whith arthur , in some cultures like armenians (i'm armenian)if someone dosen't know you they might not talk to you !!!!!!!!!!but let me tell you something, in Germany,if you walk in the streets pepole will say hi ,good morning and have a good day and just pass by !!!!!! i like that specially in the mornings it helps to start a good day it brings smile to faces!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:10 AM, June 12, 2006  

  • Listening to this podcast was awesome... !
    It help me to learn more about my classmates, and hear their experiences.
    It was great to hear different experiences from different parts of the world like Armenia, Korea and Mexico.
    I agree with Artur, when i first came here, it was surprising to see extrangers greeting or smiling to me on the street too... =)
    And like Ji said, the ethnic diversity in this country is outstanding!!! You get to meet people from all over the world without even traveling! WONDERFULL!!!

    I also agree with the comment related to public transportation in Los Angeles. IT'S HORRIBLE!!! Is that were the taxes go to? For the buses to be late.. and make people get late to their destination? (me for example) Living is LA is nice with exception of public transportation. IT takes me 1 hour to get to GCC,if the bus runs on time, wich ir RERALY. So, i get out of my house 1hour and half before class starts. =(

    Great discussion guys.. and by the way... PROPS FOR THE WAITERS!!! =)


    By Anonymous Jessica, at 7:05 PM, June 12, 2006  

  • thanks very much for the podcast. i am a teacher in Australia & thought the least i could do in return for the audio was to share the worksheet i made up it. as there is nowhere to attach a file, I will copy the document. ciao.

    http://eslmeeting.blogspot.com/ PODCAST 6 – Cultural Obstacles

    1. Discuss what you know about the culture in these countries:
    · the USA · South Korea · Mexico · Armenia

    2. Listen to the CD, do not try to answer any questions the first time round. After the CD is stopped, try to remember what was said by answering the questions below. When you’ve finished, you may compare your answers with a partner before listening again.

    (a) Where do these speakers come from?
    · Esther · Artur · Dave · Jihyun · Dayanis

    (b) According to Dave, what is good about cultural diversity?

    (c) When did Dayanis arrive in the USA?

    (d) What was interesting about her age when she arrived in the USA?

    (e) Does Dayanis speak fluently?

    (f) What is the discreet American word she uses for ‘toilet’?

    (g) How long has Artur been in the USA?

    (h) What did he think was the biggest cultural difference between America and his country?

    (i) What did Jihyun say was the biggest cultural difference from her country?

    (j) Does she like or dislike this difference?

    (k) Where did Jihyun meet her husband?

    (l) What does she think could happen to her if she goes back to Korea?

    (m) How long has she been in the USA?

    (n) What was the biggest cultural difference for Esther?

    (o) What is the phrase that Dave uses that means ‘kissing passionately’?

    (p) What is the phrase said to people who are showing too much affection in public?

    (q) Why is holding hands with a guy not a good idea if you are a Thai woman in Thailand?

    (r) What is the most difficult thing about living in an American city for Artur?

    (s) What is the most difficult thing about living in an American city for Esther?

    (t) According to Dave, what is ‘suburbia’?

    (u) Does Dave think that an integrated city or a suburban city is more boring?

    (v) What is the only thing that Esther’s sons miss about living in Korea?

    (w) Why do Americans have the phrase ‘soccer mom’?

    (x) What is horrid about Los Angeles’ transportation system?

    3. Can you see any similarities between LA and Brisbane? What are the biggest cultural differences between Australia and your country? What is difficult about living in Brisbane?

    notes – PODCAST 6 – Cultural Obstacles


    Speakers: Dave = USA (host)
    Artur = Armenia. Dayanis = Mexico Jihyun & Esther = Korea

    Dave introduces the topic of ‘Cultural Diversity’ by saying that it helps to make the world interesting, and also helps us to learn what it is that makes us all human. Poses the question: What was the biggest difference for you between the USA and your country when you first arrived here?

    Dayanis didn’t have much English when she arrived at the age of 13 and started high school. Dave notes that she was at the critical period – the age from 12 to 14 when the brain changes. Before (sometimes during) that time, people could learn a language fluently, without an accent like a native speaker. After that period is much more difficult. He notes that she speaks with an accent but otherwise her English is pretty good. She felt that the biggest difference for her was the language, not knowing how to ask for basic things because she only knew words like milk, chicken, yes, no…. Note that she uses the word ‘restroom’ for ‘toilet’.

    Artur has been in the USA for 3 ½ years. For him, the biggest cultural difference was that strangers smiled and said hello to you. If you did that in Armenia, people would think you were crazy. Nowadays he smiles and says hello sometimes himself.

    Jihyun found the ethnic diversity to be the biggest cultural difference. That’s because there are not many foreigners in Korea, whereas in the USA, people come from all over the world. Dave noted that when he was in Korea, he used to get stared at a lot because he was obviously a foreigner. She likes the ethnic diversity. Dave asks her how she feels when she sees multiracial couples. She says she is part of one so of course she thinks it’s cool. She married an American whom she met in Japan. She came out to America to be with him after that, which is when they got married. If she goes back to Korea, she thinks she would probably get bored because of the lack of diversity there. She has been in the USA for almost 3 years – about the same amount of time as Artur.

    PS: Dayanis has been in the USA for 5 years.

    For Esther, she was shocked by the open display of affection between couples in the USA. She says that Korea is a conservative country. People didn’t hug, kiss, or hold hands in public. She was worried that her 2 sons would follow the open society of the USA. She has heard that nowadays Korea is changing. Dave agrees, saying that it is changing in a lot of Eastern countries, including Japan. Esther still thinks that there is too much affection shown in public (eg. kissing passionately in public.) Artur agrees with her out of his concern for small children watching. Jihyun is fine with it. Dave asks how she would feel if waiting inline for a movie for ½ an hour and a young couple next to her in the queue were hugging and ‘making out’ constantly. She said she wouldn’t mind but he said he would probably get annoyed with it. He says the phrase that people use for people like that is “Get a room!”… for people who are showing too much affection in public. NB: Dave has had girlfriends from different Asian countries. He could hands with them in private but when seeing her parents, she would tell him not to show any affection. He also says that in Thailand, if a girl is seen holding hands with a guy, people think she is a prostitute.

    Dave asks “What’s the most difficult thing about living in the city?”

    Artur says that in the USA, people weren’t free to go out. They weren’t safe. It was dangerous, there was too much crime, especially in LA (adds Dave). Whereas it was safe in his country, Armenia.

    Esther says that LA is too big. She says Seoul is a big city too but she could go anywhere she wanted on foot within 5 or 10 minutes (a school, a market etc.). In LA, she has to drive to get anywhere. Not convenient. Might only be 5 or 10 mins but still must drive.

    Dave introduces the idea of “Suburbia”. Planned areas of the city – before the city was built. In this way, businesses were kept apart from residences. The concept of having to go ‘into’ and ‘out of’ town for schools, shops etc is a result of this. Is it a good system or should we have integrated everything like in Seoul?

    Esther says that an integrated city is better – except maybe entertainment and religious areas can be separated. But otherwise markets and schools should be mixed in with houses. Dave things that things are more exciting when they are all together. In contrast, he says that people think LA is boring. Esther says that it’s the only thing that her 2 sons miss about Korea – they can do everything by themselves there (they are more independent) because they don’t need mum or dad to drive them everywhere. Dave introduces the America phrase “soccer mom”.

    Discussion turns to LA’s horrid transportation system. Taxis are expensive. Buses don’t run to schedule. Traffic jams. In contrast, in Korea and Japan, even though people have cars, they still use the trains and buses to go to work – because their transportation system is better.

    STOP HERE at 25 minutes (still less than half of the recording) … as Dave starts talking about subways and how expensive they are to build.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:52 PM, February 27, 2007  

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