Me and We cultures

Okay, so this is quite an important idea, that can be very helpful for you in a lot of ways. Not only can it help you to understand some of your own values, beliefs and behaviours, but also those of many foreigners you interact with.

Knowing about and understanding the differences between your culture and the culture of the 'west', which is now having a big impact on the development of your country, will also help you to do well in IELTS speaking Part 3 and writing Part 2.

There are three key ideas, these are:

  • Individualism

  • Collectivism

  • Cultural difference

Cultural difference means that Myanmar (and other ASEAN countries) have very different cultures that most Western countries (e.g. UK, US, New Zealand, Australia etc). Why is this important? Because culture largely determines who we are. For example, culture is the reason you speak the language you do; it is the reason you like the food that you do. It influences the way you think about your parents, your country, your friends and importantly yourself.

To truly understand yourself, and then to understand others, you need to know how you have been shaped by the culture that you grew up in.


Complete the summary:

1) Skim read the summary and predict any answers

2) Listen to the video and complete each gap with no more that TWO WORDS from the listening.

As we grow up, our 1______ is largely formed by the culture we belong to. Most western societies are 2______ cultures, meaning that they place importance on the 3________ . In these cultures, people feel responsible for themselves and their immediate 4________. Alternatively, most eastern countries are 5________ cultures. In these collectivist cultures, the emphasis is on belonging to the 6________ . People in these cultures have a wider sense of responsibility and believe every person should strive for group 7__________.

Differences in cultural behaviour are evident when people eat in a restaurant. People from 'Me' cultures tend to order and eat their own 8_________ whereas in 'We' cultures, food is usually shared. Lateness is also treated differently, people in 'Me' cultures will typically view lateness as being due to a person's personality whereas in 'We' cultures, people may assume external 9__________ were involved. Finally in sports achievement, 'Me' cultures will often praise and celebrate the individual sports hero. 'We' cultures on the other hand, will focus more on the 10______ effort.

When you are ready, enter your answers in the test sheet below.


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