Speaking Club # 3: The Melting Pot (nationalities and their typical traits)

The third club was inspired by this  hilarious video about Russians one of my friends shared on Facebook.
I thought it would be interesting to discuss the cartoon, and the Russian character, as well as the features of other nationalities, the melting pot concept and the cultural diversity issues.

This time we had 4  newcomers — our ranks more than doubled 🙂 — so we needed to get acquainted first, and played the Alter Ego getting-to-know-you game.

We went on to  discuss some British humour which is mostly built on puns.  This website provided some great cartoons! They discussed the cartoons in pairs, exchanging them all the time, and we then voted for the wittiest ones. Everyone liked the one about the boxing match. My personal and Lena’s  favourite is the one about the phone and the tube 🙂

From British humour it was logical to move on to discussing the British character. What kind of people are the British? Intelligent? Cold? Having a good sense of humour? Thin? — or are those merely stereotypes?  Some clubbers insisted that all people within a nation are different — so we conducted an experiment. Can they guess a nation by its description? If yes — then a national character does exist.  I started by reading this description (I borrowed it from this lovely site — hope they don’t mind :)) :

... aggressive; rude; good tippers, big spenders; generally generous; open-minded; agreeable; love their “babushkas” and the last Czar; either spies or communists; alcoholics (primarily Stolichnaya vodka); mainly poor – with a few shiny billionaires; buy football clubs around the world (mainly in England); love ice hockey, gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting; organized crime (the Russian Mafia) is everywhere; overweight; have deep hearty laughs; threatening nuclear war; want to invade with MIG fighter jets; ultra-orthodox Christians; love to secretly poison their enemies with uranium injections; warmongering similar to Americans…

They guessed correctly  as soon as I reached «babushkas» 🙂 Yes — it was about  Russians. A brief discussion followed,  after which they did the following  Quiz on national character trying to guess the nationality (they read the descriptions out in pairs, one by-one, then briefly discussed the answers).  As I predicted, they guesed correctly most of the nationalities (we only did about half the list and left the rest for them to read and enjoy at home).  Here is the nationalities quiz key.

We then shared our opinions as to what facts/stereotypes surprised them. The surprise things were, for instance, the bureaucracy associated with the French, and that the Finns are believed to be heavy drinkers (they thought it was only typical of Russia :)) and more such things.

To have some rest, we watched and discussed the above-mentioned cartoon — subtitled videos are great for clubs, I should say!

We proceeded in pairs light-heartedly — everyone was talking about their nationality and roots. Some confessed to a drop of Gipsy blood in them, some were a mixture of Russians, Siberians and Jews, and only a few were purely Russian…

As usual — a more serious issue was then raised. Today’s world is a melting pot of cultures. The cultures mix. The Chinese are getting accustomed to hamburgers, whereas a Muscovite’s favourite restaurant is a sushi bar. Are we losing our cultural identities? Are we going to be similar to each other one day? Is the exchange between cultures beneficial for the humanity? New pairs formed — and the debates were launched. At the end, in their one-sentence summaries they expressed the following ideas:

  • Today’s people are still so different from one another. It’s not really likely that they will ever mix to form a unified culture.
  • The mixing up is inevitable, yet — there is little harm in it. It’s quite possible that people will end up speaking the same language and worshiping the same God. However, there’ll still be enough diversity.
  • One day  terrestrials will  discover a planet with intelligent inhabitants — and the diversity and exchange will get a new boost! 🙂

Well — we needed some relaxation and music now, so we listened to the Scorpions (although I could have prepared the lyrics for Imagine — had I predicted that they would be talking about the same religion and no boundaries 🙂 — so —Wind of change now (lyrics here):

It was then time for a cup of tea. By the way — what do you like more: tea or coffee? We played the «are you a tea person or a coffee person?» game, getting to know one another better still.  At 9.30 p.m. it still looked like we couldn’t stop chatting… but we decided to call it  day at last, looking forward to the next week!

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One thought on “Speaking Club # 3: The Melting Pot (nationalities and their typical traits)

  1. Уведомление: Another club… couldn’t stop talking. « what to teach? how to teach? why teach? to teach or…

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