Culture Lessons from The Toolkit by Dr. Carol Archer

Teacher: Velva Fallin




Cultural adjustment – Recognize the stages of adjusting to a new culture or a new

situation, and develop strategies for dealing with emotions.


These activities were planned for two combined classes with students divided into

groups of four. Total time is estimated at 100 minutes or longer; therefore,

teachers should choose which activities to do or modify.


Materials: handout – Cultural Adjustment Cycle (see below); refreshments if



Activity One – Teacher draws the W curve of the adjustment process on the board

and gives an oral explanation (see Student Workbook p. 59). Then teacher passes

out the handout and the class reads it together aloud. (20 minutes)


Activity Two – Students in pairs look at the pictures on the back of the handout

and try to match it with the stage it may represent. The class then discusses

their answers together. (15 minutes)


Activity Three – Teacher draws a horizontal line on the board and marks it 0 (very

depressed) on the left, 5 (good but not great) in the middle and 10 (fantastic!) on

the right. The teacher invites students to come and put a mark on the line where

they feel they are with regard to cultural adjustment. Students and teacher may

pause for a moment to reflect on the implications of this visual representation.

This is a good time for a break and refreshments.


Activity Four – Students look again at the Culture Shock stage on the Cultural

Adjustment Cycle handout, and teacher asks how students can help themselves

when in these stages. Teacher should list strategies on the board in the form of

sentences dictated by the students.


Students should be encouraged to write these strategies in their notebooks as a

reminder for the future. (see below)


Examples of strategies: Teacher should also list what students suggest.

1. My stomach and bowel are upset.      1. Eat vegetables and fruits. Drink lots of water. Get medicine for stomach problems.


2. I’m tired and not able to concentrate.     2. Go to sleep at regular hours. Exercise a little every day. Go outside for at least 15 minutes at noon.

3. Sleep a lot or can’t sleep.                  3. Exercise. Drink some hot tea before bed. Make your room quiet and dark.

4. Eating too much or not at all.          4. Eat at regular times. Eat vegetables and fruit. Drink lots of water.


5. Thinking about home and family a lot.      5. Contact your family and friends

regularly but not every day.


6. I feel very homesick.                       6. Take a walk during the day. Smile at

classmates and neighbors. Go out! Make

one new friend.


7. I’m afraid I’ll fail or not succeed.       7. Talk to your classmates and teachers

about your study. Find others to help

you learn English!


8. Dreaming each night of home and               8. Write in a journal, draw pictures,

waking up in new culture!                              Decorate your room as your new home


Reflective and Summative Activity:

Using the Cultural Adjustment Cycle handout

and the strategies itemized on the board or written in their notebooks, students

should write one paragraph about what problems they are facing now and write one

paragraph about what strategies they will use to help themselves to adjust to their

new culture.


Cultural Adjustment Cycle

(adapted from The Toolkit by Dr. Carol Archer)

A. Honeymoon

  • Everything is new and exciting—a new adventure
  • Feeling like a dream came true!
  • Meet lots of friendly people!

B. Culture Shock

1. Physical

  • stomach and bowel upset
  • tired, unable to concentrate
  • sleeps a lot or can’t sleep
  • eating too much or not much at all

2. Mental

a. thinking about home and family a lot

  • b. very homesick
  • c. fear of failing or not being able to succeed
  • d. dreaming each night of “back home” and waking up in new culture


C. Beginning to Adjust

  • feeling hopeful; feeling you can succeed
  • feeling “at home” in the new culture; you have a “role” or “job”
  • feeling more “connected” to people in a new culture
  • feeling more self-confident and relieved

D. Feeling Alone

  • feeling anger and dislike of new culture
  • feeling self-doubt and worry about what is happening at home
  • feeling in a lower status in new culture
  • feeling disappointed in self or new culture

E. Accepting and Belonging in New Culture

  • stop comparing new culture with home
  • stop trying to change new culture
  • have new ways to live happily in new culture day by day


Which stage would each of the following statements represent?


I sleep all the time.

Everything is great and cool!

I am on the computer all the time chatting with my friends in my home country.

I’m making new friends.

I hate the weather here and everything about this place!

Maybe I can succeed and reach my goal.

I don’t like all the rules in this place!

I really miss my family and my girlfriend!

I found a new hobby. I think I can really enjoy this place!

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. Why did I come here? I can’t do this!