Discussion Questions

Students should prepare their answers before class discussion.

1. In Paragraph A, the authors discuss how people can misinterpret nonverbal language that is culturally different from their own. Has this ever happened to you? Describe what took place and your reactions to the incident.
2. In Paragraph C, the authors describe a study that found that 93 percent of a person's attitude was communicated nonverbally and only 7 percent with words. If this study were done in your country, do you think the results would be the same? Explain your answer.
3. The authors discuss the expression of emotion in Paragraph D. Do people from your culture show their happiness and sadness openly? What cross-cultural similarities and differences in the area of facial expressiveness have you observed?
4. Do you think it is important to understand other cultural communication styles? Explain your answer. In Paragraph F, what do the authors suggest that people do to understand other cultural styles of communication better?
5. In Paragraph H, the authors tell us that not all gestures are universal. What gestures do you know of that have the same meaning in more than one culture? What gestures have different meanings across cultures?
6. In Paragraph J, the authors tell us that Americans smile at strangers, although this is not so common in big cities. Why do you think this is true? What is your experience?
7. What explanation for an American teacher's difficulty in a Japanese classroom do the authors suggest in Paragraph K? What advice would you give a new American teacher in Japan?
8. According to the authors' statements in Paragraph L, should people judge others according to their own cultural norms? Do you agree? Why or why not?
9. What is the American expression about eye contact that is quoted in Paragraph N? Why is it not a universal belief?
10. In Paragraph O, the authors describe conversational distance as the space that forms "invisible walls" around a person. If someone is standing too close to you (because of that person' culture practice), what would you do or say? Would you inform that person? Would you use verbal or nonverbal communication? Explain your answer.
Discussion questions taken from Beyond Language by Levine and Adelman, Prentice Hall, 1993.