Cultural barriers – communicating effectively in a multicultural setting (Code CAL4WA4W1)

IO4. Cultural Awareness

Work Area 4

Workshop 1: Cultural barriers - communicating effectively in a multicultural setting

1. General Information

Name of the key competence:
Cultural Awareness

Name of the workshop:

Cultural barriers: communicating effectively in a multicultural setting

4.1.1 Understand the differences in communication which result from culture

4.1.2 Use the appropriate haptics

4.1.3 Use the appropriate proxemics

4.1.4 Understand your own bias

4.1.5 Communicate effectively in a multicultural environment

Work area{s):

WA4: Cross cultural communication


4 hours

AC entry level


Class room activity

Outward bound activity

E-learning activity

Min. training materials:

Online connection

Beamer and PC

White board

Paper/pencils, post its etc

Extra rooms


Special attention:

Involvement of third parties

Special arrangements needed

Prep work for participants required



2. Didactical Methodology

Part of workshop

Innovative didactical methodology used:

What it means:

1st part

2nd part

3rd part

1. Spaced learning

Highly condensed learning content is repeated three times, with two 10-minute breaks during which distractor activities such as physical activities are performed by the students

2. Cross Over learning

Learning in informal settings, such as museums and after-school clubs, can link educational content with issues that matter to learners in their lives

3. Learning through argumentation

Argumentation as means to attend to contrasting ideas, which can deepen their learning.  Use of meaningful discussion in classrooms through open-ended questions, re-state of remarks in more scientific language, and develop and use models to construct explanations

4. Incidental learning

Incidental learning, unplanned or unintentional learning. It may occur while carrying out an activity that is seemingly unrelated to what is learned. It is not lead by a teacher

5. Context based learning

By interpreting new information in the context of where and when it occurs, and by relating it to what we already know, we come to understand its relevance and meaning

6. Computational thinking

Breaking large problems down into smaller ones (decomposition), recognizing how these relate to problems that have been solved in the past (pattern recognition), setting aside unimportant details (abstraction), identifying and developing the steps that will be necessary to reach a solution (algorithms) and refining these steps (debugging).

7. Learning by doing

A hands-on approach to learning, meaning students must interact with their environment in order to adapt and learn

8. Embodied Learning

Embodied learning involves self-awareness of the body interacting with a real or simulated world to support the learning process

9. Adaptive Teaching

Using data of learner’s previous and current learning to create a personalized path through educational content.

Data (f.e. time spent reading, scores) can form a basis for guiding each learner through educational materials. Adaptive teaching can either be applied to classroom activities or in online environments where learners control their own pace of study

10. Analytics of Emotions

Teachers responding to students’ emotions and dispositions, so that teaching can become more responsive to the whole learner

3. Type of training activities used

Type of activity
Part of workshop

1st part

2nd part

3rd part

1. Q-A session

2. Case studies

3. Small group discussions

4. Active summaries

5. Demonstrations

6. Real world learning / real life scenario

7. Apprenticeship

8. Story board teaching

9. Out of class activity

10. Problem-based learning activity / problem solving

11. Collaborative preparation

12. Discussion questions / group discussion

13. Group activity

14. Story telling

15. Mind mapping

16. Brainstorming

17. Instructional video

18. Role playing

19. Self-assessment

20. (Mentor) work shadowing

21. Instruction

22. Event organisation

23. Online training

24. Learning game

25. Reflection

26. Coaching

4. Organization of the workshop

Duration: 1 hour and 30 min


Learning Outcomes:

4.1.1 Understand the differences in communication which result from culture

4.1.5 Communicate effectively in a multicultural environment




  • The Facilitator runs the icebreaker “small group: things in common”. The participants break into groups of 3‐6 persons and as a group come up with as many things they as a group have in common that they cannot see (e.g. excluding clothes, hair etc.). Each group is given five minutes to come up with as many things as they can. At the end of five minutes, each group must share their lists. It can be done for two or three rounds with a different group paring each time. The Facilitator then asks the participants what was one thing they had in common with someone that surprised them and what they think is their most unique or interesting commonality.
  • The Facilitator must in advance print proverbs from Annex 1, with each proverb being on a separate card. The Facilitator counts the number of participants in the group and selects enough cards to equal the number of participants. If there is an uneven number of participants, the Facilitator must participate in this activity. The Facilitator mixes up the cards and passes out one card to each participant. When all cards have been distributed, the participants are asked to think of a proverb with a similar meaning from their own culture.
  • The Facilitator funs a group feedback discussion regarding the previous exercises, accentuating that although we have many differences when we compare ourselves to other kinds of people, we also have many similarities. We may have different ways of talking and different behaviour patterns, but many of our most basic needs and interests are similar.
  • The Facilitator explains that he/she will read the list of ingredients only once and that the participants will have to write down those that they remember after the Facilitator has finished reading.
  • After the Facilitator reads the list (Annex 2), the participants start writing the ingredients they remember for no more time than 2 minutes.
  • Each participant presents the ingredients they have written. It is likely that they will remember ingredients of their personal preference and/or ingredients which are popular in their country of origin, rather than ingredients common in other cultures.
  • In order to facilitate discussion, after they’re done, ask them to check the ones they missed and read the list once more. Also, ask if anyone wrote an ingredient that is not on the list at all.
  • Discussion follows to pick up on the main outcomes. During the discussion, the Facilitator stresses on the participants’ ability to remember ingredients common in their culture and the difficulty to remember ingredients from other cultures.
  • The Facilitator concludes with emphasizing the need for extra effort needed when dealing with people from diverse backgrounds, and the importance of empathy in intercultural encounters.


Annex 1, Annex 2


Duration: 1 hour and 30 min


Learning Outcomes:

4.1.2 Use the appropriate haptics

4.1.3 Use the appropriate proxemics



  • The Facilitator briefly discusses with the participants the importance of the following cultural similarities and differences: Facial Expressions, Smile, Perceptions of distance (proxemics); Touching (Haptics), Eye Contact, Hand Gestures. The Facilitator may ask:
    • How could these cultural elements impact your daily life or work?
    • Why are they important?
  • The Facilitator gives an assignment to draw 3 circles – big, medium and small, one inside the other. In the most inner circle the participants are supposed to write the names of the people that are closest to them: their family and best friends, in the middle circle – their peers and acquaintances and in the outer circle – strangers and people who they mistrust.
  • Then the participants are asked to review first 2 suggested links.
  • Based on their circles and the material they’ve read, the participants must discuss the topic of proxemics and specifically proxemics across different cultures
  • The participants are asked to review last suggested link to learn about Haptics.
  • Then the participants are invited to discuss the various forms of touch they have encountered in work environments, what meaning they communicated, and how they came to understand the intended meaning.
  • The participants complete the Touch Assessment from Annex 3.
  • In small groups of 3–5 participants they are supposed to share their answers to the assessment. They are also asked to identify implications of the similarities and differences among them if they were a work team.
  • The Facilitator then debriefs the topic for the whole class


Ref number


Duration: 1 hour


Learning Outcomes:

4.1.4 Understand your own bias



  • The Facilitator starts with explaining the participants what ‘bias’ means, including in the intercultural context
  • The Facilitator gives each participant a copy of the worksheet from Annex 1, asking within 10 minutes to reformulate the biased statements. After they’re finished, the Facilitator discusses on different answers, proposed by participants, trying to compare between different ways to reformulate.


  • The Facilitator tells the participants that they have been chosen as members of a committee for the colonization of a deserted island. The committee will have to choose 12 from a list of 20 people. The Facilitator splits the class into 2-3 of such “committees” and, having given them the list from Annex 2, tells them to eliminate 8 and keep 12 people. The Facilitator must explain that the community needs to be self-sufficient in terms of reproduction and that no one will be added for two generations. After the participants are finished, one representative of each ‘committee’ group is asked to justify their choice.
  • Most of the participants will probably hypothesize that, for example, the doctor is a male, even though this is not stated, or that the activist is a female. Comment on those views as emerging from stereotypical perceptions. For the Facilitator’s reference:
    • A plumber from Poland (we do not know if male or female)
    • An Indian IT specialist (we do not know if male or female)
    • A woman’s rights activist (we do not know if male or female)
    • A pregnant young woman (she will soon add another member in the community)
    • An old lady on a wheelchair (experienced and able to transmit cultural tradition)
    • A carpenter from Germany (we do not know if male or female)
    • A Pakistani doctor (we do not know if male or female)
    • A Swedish nurse (we do not know if male or female)
    • A male homosexual builder
    • A Turkish judge (we do not know if male or female)
    • A male heterosexual unemployed person from Greece (the only heterosexual male we know, thus essential for the reproduction of the community)
    • A Danish psychologist (we do not know if male or female)
    • An American cook (we do not know if male or female)
    • A musician (we do not know if male or female)
    • An electrician (we do not know if male or female)
    • A gypsy woman (we do not know if male or female)
    • A manager (we do not know if male or female)
    • A cleaning lady
    • An inventor (we do not know if male or female)
    • A psychology professor (we do not know if male or female)
  • If some people refuse to take someone because of his/her ethnicity, sexual orientation etc., the Facilitator must discuss it.
  • The Facilitator debriefs the exercise


Annex 4, Annex 5