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By comparing the customs and cultures of people from other countries and the way they educate their children, you can gain insights into how they view the world and why they think the way they do. By understanding others, we can also learn more about ourselves. Answer these questions after you have carefully thought about your answers.

1. What are the most important ways in which school in your country differs from school in the United States?
2. In what significant ways are school in your country and school in the United States alike?
3. How are students' attitudes toward teachers and school in the two countries different?
4. What would happen in your country if students acted the way American students do?
5. Grades are often calculated differently, not only in different countries, but also in the same country. Generally, in the United States, teachers consider the following areas when computing grades:
Tests: formal examinations
Quizzes: short tests, sometimes given to students without telling them in advance
Homework: work that the students are expected to do individually at home
Class Participation: active involvement in the class by asking and answering questions
Research Paper: a written report that requires looking up information in the library
Attendance: going to class every time it meets
Promptness: coming to class at exactly the time the class is scheduled to begin and handing in work when it is due
Attitude: showing interest in the class and respect for the teacher, the subject, and the other students
Are these areas also important in your country? Which ones are not important?
6. Schools in the United States use their own grading system. However, most grades are either letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) or number grades. (Please note that in some schools the letter/number grade may vary by one or two points.)

Review the U.S. grading system below then discuss the grading system in your country and how it compares with grading in the U.S.


Letter Grade

Number Grade


A 90-100 Excellent (Passing)
B 80-89 Good (Passing)
C 70-79 Average (Passing)
D 60-69 Poor (Passing)
F 0-59 Failing (Not Passing)
7. Here are the grades an American student received. What kind of student is he? In which areas does he need to improve?
English C
Math B
Science D
Social Studies B
Physical Education A
Spanish F


8. Form pairs. One person tells the other what is different about the grading system of his or her country. The person listening must then repeat this information to his or her partner. Then switch roles. This is a good way to improve your listening skills and learn about another culture.
Material taken from Culturally Speaking by Rhona Genzal and Martha Cummings, Harper & Row, 1986