Module 2: Expanding Your Intercultural Knowledge



This module focused on helping you deepen your knowledge and understanding of culture and how it influences interactions between people from the same and different cultures. You explored values as indicators of cultural tendencies, explored cultural orientations used to explain general tendencies across cultures, and learned about the role of nonverbal communication in intercultural contexts. This module encouraged you to develop a global perspective while identifying ways to expand your knowledge about other cultures through engagement, relatability, and intentionality.

About the self-assessment

The following self-assessment will help you demonstrate your understanding of cultural values and orientations in everyday behaviours and interactions; it will help you think about and demonstrate your ability to address potential issues arising from contrasting orientations. You will be able to explain potential difficulties in exchanges involving nonverbal communication, make suggestions about how best to react to given situations, and identify strategies to expand your knowledge of intercultural and global issues.

As you prepare to do this self-assessment, keep in mind the following:

  • Engage with the self-assessment without rushing. Take time to think about the questions and situations.
  • Ensure you answer all questions to maximize your learning process and allow you to think more critically about issues and situations.
  • Instead of a mark, you will be able to see feedback (sample responses) for each item that will support your understanding of the content.
  • Enjoy completing your self-assessment! It is a great way to summarize what you did in this module.


Part 1: Understanding Concepts

Part 2: Explaining Issues

Answer the following questions related to the content you explored in this module and provide examples as needed to demonstrate your understanding [15 points].

Part 3: Understanding Perspectives

Decide whether the following statements are True or False [7 points].

Part 4: Understanding Meaning

Look at the images below and select the correct answer in each case. [7 points]

Part 5: Practical Applications

Read the following situations and identify the cultural/value orientations involved in each case. Then answer the question addressing the situation. [24 points]

Situation 1

People from the US, Germany, and Scandinavian countries generally value performance based on how hard one works to attain goals (e.g., scholarships, honour roll, and academic status) and what one becomes; in contrast, people from Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong often place importance on who or what the person is (e.g., the authority awarded to a teacher or the boss, the respect owed to elders).

Situation 2

Indigenous peoples of Canada often find it difficult to function within mainstream values focused on personal achievement and benefits enjoyed by one as opposed to sharing with the rest of the group. If someone offers a scholarship to the three Indigenous teens with the best marks in the class, this is seen as rewarding their individual performances and setting them aside from the rest.

Situation 3

In countries such as Austria and Denmark, it is common to find rules that are detailed and consistently applied to all so everyone is treated the same way. However, in Latin American, Middle Eastern and Sub-Saharan African countries, rules do exist, but there is a degree of flexibility to account for specific cases or scenarios. As a result, those who abide by the rules as expected are often perceived as strict and inflexible, while those who see the value of flexing the rules for some people based on their situation can often be seen as demanding and showing favouritism.

Situation 4

Countries such as Canada, the US, Australia, and Ireland often rely on a form of communication that is explicit and direct (within different degrees) so there is no risk of confusion. Comparatively, countries such as India, Thailand, and Italy do not always/necessarily say everything with words since a great portion of the message is conveyed through tone, nonverbal signals, and often seem more indirect.

Situation 5

People from Finland, Canada, Switzerland, and Northern France tend to function better when concentrating on completing one task at a time. They stick to strategies to respect deadlines and promptness and prefer avoiding distractions. In contrast, many African, Latin American, and Native American cultures tend to appreciate some flexibility of commitments. Deadlines are set and observed, but they may be adjusted. As such, while completing tasks, there may be interruptions that they will be able to handle.

Situation 6

People often have different ways to relate to their environment and may believe that they can control what happens around them to achieve their goals, which is a tendency commonly observed in the UK. Other people may feel that they should work with what is available, avoiding conflict where possible as they focus on reaching their goals. This orientation has been observed among Chinese nationals.

Situation 7

Some cultures often discourage emotional displays in public and it may take a bit of time to comfortably reveal emotions to those with whom we are not close (e.g., Russia, Japan, and Scandinavian countries). Conversely, in some other cultures, people tend to spontaneously express their emotions in public or private, using verbal and nonverbal cues (e.g., Mexico, Argentina, and Mediterranean countries).

Situation 8

If you have the opportunity to work in different countries, you will observe that people often have different ways to relate to work and the relationships around it. In some countries, the lines between the two may appear blurred (e.g., most of Latin America, Southern Europe, the Middle East, and most of Asia). In others, these lines tend to be well-defined, albeit to varying degrees (e.g., Australia, Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands).