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Workshop 1

Sticky Note Proverbs and Cultural Iceberg


Time: 50-55 mins
Group size: 2+
Materials Needed:
Copies of Handout 1: Blank Cultural Iceberg Model
Copies of Handout 2: Cultural Iceberg Model
Several sticky notes per volunteer
Whiteboard and dry erase markers
(optional) Projector to show Handout 2: Cultural Iceberg Model
Objectives:
1) In small groups, volunteers will be able to apply the cultural iceberg
model to a list of different aspects of culture, identifying which aspects
belong to surface culture or deep culture.
2) Individually, volunteers will be able to identify at least one of their own
cultural values.
Lesson Plan
Time Lesson Notes
2
mins

Introduction. Director-oriented
Introduce yourself and your experiences teaching in a
community-based setting. Who has taught here before?
[raise hands] Can you tell me what are some of the
places of origin your students have been from in the
past year or two?

6
mins

Culture Brainstorm. Small groups 3-4 people


[Transition] Considering all the places our students are
from, the world is in our classroom. We are gathering
students from many nations, many cultures, many
languages. Even in classes where the majority of
students come from a shared language or culture, our
classroom becomes a multicultural environment when
we walk in. Why might it be important for us to focus on
intercultural communication? [Elicit answers]

Materials
needed

Whiteboard

In pairs, have volunteers brainstorm as many answers as


possible to the question, What are different aspects that
make up a culture? Give one example (e.g., food).
After couple minutes, write one answer from each pair
on board, then elicit additional answers. Leave this list
Developed by Rachael Johnson, 2016. This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0)

on the board for next task.


*If volunteers feel stuck, tell them to think about one of
the students from their classroom from a different
cultural background. What makes their culture
different?
2
mins

10
mins

Cultural Iceberg Framework. instructor-oriented


Pass out Handout 1: Blank Cultural Iceberg Model to all
volunteers. If you would like to show the image, you can
use a projector. Introduce the cultural iceberg diagram
with a brief explanation:

Handout 1:
Blank
Cultural
Iceberg
Model

One way of thinking about culture is an iceberg. There


are different layers or levels which are seen or unseen.
Surface aspects of a culture are aspects of a
culture that are readily observed, easy to see
behaviors, objects, artifacts.
Deep aspects of a culture are not as easily
perceived, but still influence daily life and
interactions values, belief systems, societal
rules.

(optional)
Projector to
show
Handout 1:
Blank
Cultural
Iceberg
Model

Applying the Iceberg. Pairs


Have volunteers look at the group-generated list of
different aspects of culture. In pairs, volunteers decide
which aspects belong to surface culture and which ones
belong to deep culture. Volunteers write these aspects
on a blank cultural iceberg handout.

Handout 1:
Blank
Cultural
Iceberg
Model

After

Whiteboard
with groupgenerated list
of different
aspects of
culture

several minutes, debrief the group:


Which aspects did you place in surface culture?
Which aspects did you place in deep culture?
Did you place any in both categories? Why or why
not?
What was challenging about this exercise?

Afterward, pass out Handout 2: Cultural Iceberg Model


and explain it. According to this model, surface aspects
of culture include things such as food, music, clothing,
art, behaviors, gestures, language and festivals. These
aspects of culture are more readily seen or heard. Deep
aspects of culture include values, beliefs, social
etiquette, interactional styles and rules, ways of
handling conflict, worldviews, religious views, and more.
Developed by Rachael Johnson, 2016. This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustivethere can


be more facets to culture both above and below the
surface!
8
mins

Proverb Brainstorm. Individually


[Transition] It can be harder to identify what lies
beneath the surface in cross-cultural interactions. It
also can be harder to identify what our own culture is.
So were going to take some time now to examine some
of the deeper aspects of our cultural background.
Specifically, were going to explore the cultural values
you are carrying through analyzing proverbs.

Several sticky
notes per
volunteer, or
a packet per
table

Individually, ask volunteers to brainstorm as many


proverbs they heard growing up, writing them on
individual sticky notes. These are NOT idioms, like Its
raining cats and dogsthink about sayings that
communicate a moral or value. Examples:
A penny saved is a penny earned.
If at first you dont succeed, try, try again.
Haste makes waste.
Then invite them to stick the notes onto a nearby wall or
desk so everyone can read them.
*For multilingual teams of volunteers, encourage them
to include sayings in other languages they heard
growing up, but to add a translation into English so the
whole group can read it.
10
mins

Walk Around. Whole group.


As a whole group, walk around the classroom and read
the sticky notes. Encourage volunteers to chat with
each other about the proverbs. Tell volunteers to pay
attention to two things:
1. Similarities or differences. Invite volunteers to
group some proverbs together that share similar
themes, or move others farther apart.
2. Values. Write possible values expressed in the
proverbs next to them with a dry erase marker.
For instance:
Proverb
A penny saved is a penny

Dry erase
markers

Value(s)
Frugality

Developed by Rachael Johnson, 2016. This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0)

earned.
If at first you dont succeed, try, Perseveran
try, again.
ce,
hard work
Haste makes waste.
Efficiency

10
mins

Debrief. Whole group.


Lead discussion:
What values are being communicated by these
proverbs?
How are the proverbs similar or different among
our group?
What does that say about our volunteer team?
What did you learn about yourself or your own
culture?
How might this apply to our context of teaching
ESOL here?
*Note: If confusion arises over a particular proverb or
sticky note, invite that person to explain the beliefs /
values / worldview expressed behind the saying.

2-3
mins

Conclusion Director-oriented.
We teach in a multicultural environment, and we serve
on multicultural teams. In our interactions with one
another, its good to keep in mind that there are surface
aspects of culture like music or food that are more easily
discernable, but there are also many aspects of deep
culture that lie under the surface, like our cultural
values. As we grow in our self-awareness of our own
cultural background, we will be able to interact, serve,
and teach across cultures more effectively.

Handout 2:
Cultural
Iceberg
Model

Developed by Rachael Johnson, 2016. This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Further Applications to the TESOL Classroom


Encourage volunteers to continue the conversation with each other outside
this training time. If volunteers teach in teams, give these questions to the
teams to discuss and implement together in the following weeks. At your
next training time, follow up with the whole group by discussing how the
applications went.
Alternatively, get volunteers interacting with each other online through a
closed Facebook group, Google Group, WeChat group, email chain, or other
form of communication. Choose one, some, or all of these questions for
volunteers to discuss over the following weeks before the next team training
time. This forum is for volunteers to share their reflections, ideas, and
resources with each other.

Reflect on the cultural dynamics of your classroom. Where are


students from? What mixture of cultures is present?

Encourage students to share about their home countries or cultures.


While the conversation may begin around food, music, or other aspects
of surface culture, create opportunities for students to share about the
deeper aspects of their culture, too. What are ways you could facilitate
deep culture sharing?

How could you adapt the Sticky Note Proverbs exercise to your ESOL
classroom? Develop an activity based on your students level that
engages their skills in writing, reading, and/or speaking.

Reference:
Handout 2: Cultural Iceberg Model

Lane, P. (2002). A beginners


guide to crossing cultures.
Downers Grove, I.L.:

InterVarsity Press.

Developed by Rachael Johnson, 2016. This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0)