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What is Culture?

 

What is a culture? How are cultures different? How are they the same? How should we define culture? These are a few questions that this site explores. By the time you have finished, you will have a better understanding of the uniqueness of your own culture, and hopefully, a greater appreciation of the similarities and differences that exist among various cultures of the world.

 

Your Turn:
After you finish the reading activity, test yourself by taking the quiz. Just click on TAKE THE QUIZ at the bottom of the page.

 

Bad Fads Museum

 

Have you ever heard of Zoot Suits or Poodle Skirts? How about Pet Rocks or Super Balls? These are some examples of fads, or things that were very popular in the (mostly American) culture for a short time, and then lost their popularity. At the Bad Fads Museum, you can learn about many of these popular fads.

Your Turn:
Find a few fads that you think are the most interesting. Now write 2 or 3 paragraphs about a popular fad in your country. It can be from the past or the present. Have your classmates also write about fads from their countries. Share your fads with the class.


 

Culture Shock: A Fish Out of Water

 

If you've ever visited or lived in a foreign country, you've probably experienced culture shock. That's the strange and uncomfortable feeling that you get when everything (food, language, people, etc.) is suddenly very different. At this site, you'll find a very interesting reading activity about culture shock. Read the text on the left side of the page, and read the notes on the right side. Use the arrows at the bottom of the page to move around the site.

 

Your Turn:
After you finish the reading activity, test yourself by taking the quiz. Just click on TAKE THE QUIZ at the bottom of the page.


Revealing Things

 

This is a great site to practice your reading and also learn about American culture. The Smithsonian Institution is a famous museum in Washington, D.C. This is a special Internet exhibit where you can learn about American culture by clicking on interesting objects like a TV, a hat, or a pair of bellbottom jeans.

 

Your Turn:
Think about 2 or 3 interesting items that are related to the culture of your home country. Write a short report about the object and why it's important to your culture. If you can, bring the object to class and show it to your classmates.

Superstitions

 

Are you superstitious? Do you believe that some things you do can bring bad luck (or good luck)? Here is a very long list of superstitions. They are listed alphabetically, and also grouped according to those that are related to death and to weddings.

 

Your Turn:
What superstitions do you have in your country? Make a list of some of the most popular ones. Compare your list with your classmates' lists. Do different countries have similar superstitions?

 


U.S. Tipping Guide

 

If you're planning to visit the U.S. soon, one of the things that you should know about is when and and where to tip someone. This site is a very useful guide to how much you should tip in 30 different situations. Remember, however, that tipping is not really required, but is given to someone who has given good and helpful service to you.

 

Your Turn:
Compare tipping in the U.S to your country. (Some countries, like Japan, don't have a strong tipping custom.) Make a list of people that you might tip in your home country. Then write down how much you would usually tip them. Is it different or about the same as the U.S.?

Yesterdayland Toys

 

Can you remember the toys and games that you played with when you were a child? Remembering them can often bring back happy memories of your childhood! At this site, you'll find lots of toys that were very popular during the 20th century in America. Just click on a decade (or use the search box to find a specific toy), and then choose a toy. You'll find a short history and a picture of the toy. You can also read about people's memories of the toy.

 

Your Turn:
Read about some of the toys on this site. Did you find any toys from your childhood? Did you find any toys that were similar to toys that you used to play with? Write a short report about one or two of your favorite childhood toys. What were they called? How did you use them? Why did you enjoy playing with them? Then compare them to your classmates' favorite toys


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