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Cultural Differences

This is what we wish Europeans:

Swiss salary, German car,

British home, French wine and

Luxemburg taxes

Key words

body language

“мова тіла”

to get acquainted with smb

знайомитися з кимось



to adapt


to carry on a conversation

вести розмову

to make poor impression

справляти негативне враження

to avoid


customs and traditions

звичаї та традиції







a multinational company

транснаціональна компанія

Task 1. Read the text and say what new facts you have learnt. What things seem surprising or strange for you? we are all different

We all live in a global village, but how well do we know and understand each other?

On finding yourself in foreign environment you should know of what is welcomed and acceptable in different cultural contexts and what is absolutely inappropriate or offensive, otherwise you may get into trouble or make poor impression.

So if you decided to go abroad on business or pleasure read the following cultural peculiarities which should be taken into account:

Body language

– Standing with your hands on your hips is a gesture of defiance in Indonesia.

– Carrying on a conversation with your hands in your pockets makes poor impression in France, Belgium, Finland, and Sweden.

– When you shake your head from side to side, that means “yes” in Bulgaria and Sri Lanka.

– Crossing your legs to expose the sole of your shoe is really a taboo in Muslim countries.

Physical contact

– Patting a child on the head is a grave offence in Thailand or Singapore, because head is referred to as the location of the soul.

– In Oriental culture touching another person is considered an invasion of privacy, while in Southern Europe and Arabic countries it is the sign of warmth and friendship.


– Be on time when invited for dinner in Denmark or China.

– In Latin countries, your host or business partner would be surprised if you arrived at the appointed hour.

Eating and cooking

– It is rude to leave anything on your plate when eating in Norway, Malaysia, or Singapore.

  • In Egypt it is rude not to leave something.

  • In Italy and Spain cooking is done with oil.

– In Germany and Great Britain margarine and butter are used.

– In Samoa don’t eat when you are walking in public.

Other social customs

– In Sweden nudity and sexual permissiveness are quite all right, but drinking is really frowned on.

– In Western European countries many consumers still are reluctant to buy anything (other than a house) on credit. Even for an automobile, they will pay cash after having saved for some time.

– In China keeping extended eye contact while doing business can give wrong impression. Try to avoid it. In China avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect.

TASK 2. Change the word in brackets into another part of speech to make meaningful sentences.

Example: Punctuality is necessary when doing business in Japan. (punctual)

1. Culture shock can develop a better understanding of oneself and stimulate personal _________. (create)

2. You should live in a different _________ climate. (culture)

3. – Do you like our city? – I admire it. It’s so magnificent and very _________ (impression)

4. Keeping extended eye contact in China is a sign of _________ (respectful)

5. I think we can ________ these clauses of the contract next time. (discussion)

6. I arrived at the meeting at _________ hour. (appointment)


1. Surf the net and write out various interpretations of the definition “culture”. Pick up the one which best fits your principles and visions.

2. Prepare a mini presentation on your internet findings concerning some peculiarities and cultural oddities in the countries world wide.

TASK 3. Read the following statements about cultural behavior and say which of them are appropriate in your country. Compare your answers with the group.

1. People often kiss friends on the cheek when they meet.

2. People usually shake hands when they are introduced to someone.

3. It’s OK to blow your nose in public.

4. It’s all right to chew a gum while talking to someone.

5. It’s OK to ask people how much they earn.

6. It’s all right to ask someone what his or her religion is.

7. It’s common to bargain when you buy things in stores or shops.

8. It’s common to introduce yourself to new neighbours and give them a small gift.

9. In an office people usually prefer to be called by their first name.

10. In schools it’s common to call a teacher by his or her first name.

11. Students always stand up when the lecturer enters the classroom.

12. People always arrive on time when they are invited to someone’s house.

13. If you’re with strangers and want to smoke, you should always ask if they don’t mind.

14. You should take a small gift when you are invited to someone’s house for dinner.

15. It’s OK to bring a friend or a family member when you are invited to a party at someone’s house.

16. It’s OK to ask for a second helping when eating at friend’s house.

17. When friends eat out together, each person usually pays his or her share of the bill.

18. Parents usually decide who their children will marry.

19. After finishing school young people usually leave home.

20. A man usually gives a woman a gift when they go out on a date.

21. Young people usually live with their parents after they get married.

TASK 4. Choose the best word to fill the gap.

1. It’s important to understand how other cultures behave so you don’t cause ________.

A offence

B problem

C disaster

D behavior

2. Having good ___________ may help you to make deals more easily.

A entertaining

B manners

C demonstrations

D handshaking

3. If someone looks me straight in the eye without __________ I tend to think they are honest.

A yawning

B sighing

C sniffing

D blinking

4.  Your body __________ usually gives other people information about how you really feel.

A appearance

B impression

C language

D relationship

5.  Bob and Tony are business __________ and have arranged to meet at the sales conference.

A partners

B delegates

C customers

D officers

TASK 5. Read what other nationalities say about Americans. Which of the statements do you agree with? What do you personally think of Americans?

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