Culture shock lesson plan

Thailand: long neck woman

Culture shock lesson plan

This is a culture shock lesson plan for intermediate students. It is a reading comprehension lesson where the learners practice the following strategies:

  • making predictions
  • skimming and scanning the text
  • reviewing

The learners will also have the opportunity to work with the vocabulary related to the topic.

  • Level: upper intermediate
  • Timing: 55 minutes
  • Materials: text about culture shock
  • Objectives:
    • The learners will be able to skim the text to get a general idea
    • They will be able to scan the text to find specific ideas
    • They will be able to connect the text to themselves

The different stages of the culture shock lesson plan include:

  • Warm-up
  • Lead-in
  • Reading and answers to tasks
  • Text work
  • Reviewing
  • Making connections


Start with a tongue twister like the following

She sells seashells by the seashore

This not only creates a lot of fun but also puts the students in the mood of learning.


To prepare the learners to read the text, we need to activate their knowledge about the topic of the text.

Here are examples of activities to activate the learners’ prior knowledge.

A- What are some aspects of your local culture that are unique?

Work in groups and generate as many ideas as possible about your local culture (food, wedding customs, housing, greeting, relationships…)

B- Look at the following pictures and comment on them.

Thailand: long neck woman

Thailand: long neck woman

Portrait of an arab woman

Portrait of an Arab woman

A man from Nepal

A man from Nepal

The teacher explains that the students will read a text about culture shock. Then, s/he proceeds with the following activity:

C- Look at the following list of words: cross out those you think won’t appear in the text.

The learners have to work in small groups.

(At this stage, the learners do the task without reading the text.)

  • unfamiliar
  • homesickness
  • purify
  • experience
  • adaptation
  • guidance
  • acceptance
  • transition
  • salary
  • anxious
  • payment
  • conversion
  • adjustment
  • celebration
  • negotiation

The above activity allows the learners not only to decide which words are relevant to the topic of the text but also to generate a discussion about the difficult words.


Once they finish, they read the text quickly to see if their guesses were correct. Here is the passage:

The text

The passage that is the basis of the culture shock lesson plan is the following:

a. ……..

Chinese food: culture shock

Culture shock refers to the feeling of disorientation experienced by people when they move to an unfamiliar cultural environment or when they are suddenly exposed to a different way of life or set of attitudes. This can be the result of immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply a transition to another type of life.

b. ……….

Culture shock consists of four distinct stages: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation. The honeymoon stage occurs when the individual sees the differences between the old and new culture in a romantic light. In the negotiation stage, the differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. The adjustment stage refers to the period when the individual grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. Finally, in the adaptation stage, individuals are able to participate fully and comfortably in the host culture. Adaptation or acceptance does not mean total conversion; people often keep many traits from their earlier culture, such as accents and languages. It is often referred to as the bicultural stage.

c …..

Culture shock may cause homesickness. This refers to the feeling of longing for one’s home. People suffering from culture shock typically experience a combination of depressive and anxious symptoms related to homesickness. Ways of coping with homesickness include developing a hobby, thinking positively and feeling grateful about what one has, and building new relationships.

Cultural shock is a natural phenomenon that occurs when one has a cross-cultural experience. Going through the different stages can take weeks, months or years. But ultimately, the experience can be enriching and may end up with either adaptation with the new culture or a return home.

It is a good practice to start with activities that aim at an overall preview of the passage before dealing with more specific details. So after activating the learners’ schematic knowledge about the topic of the passage, the teacher may now ask the learners to skim the text and match the headings with the different sections of the text:

Match the heading with the different sections of the text:

  1. Culture shock stages
  2. Homesickness
  3. What is culture shock?
  1. …….
  2. …….
  3. …….

The next activity consists of reading the text once again to answer the following question:

Does culture shock have only negative effects on people experiencing it?

After class correction, the learners are invited to do the following comprehension tasks:

Are these statements true or false (justify your answers):

  1. Culture shock occurs only as a result of immigration.
  2. The adaptation stage means that there is a complete change of personality.
  3. Both homesickness and culture shock refer to the same thing.

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is culture shock?
  2. What are the different stages of culture shock?
  3. How can one cope with culture shock?

Find in the text words having the same meaning as:

  1. Change (paragraph 1)
  2. Familiarized to (paragraph 2)
  3. Thankful (paragraph 3)


At this stage, the learners review the passage by trying to remember the main ideas and important information the text talks about.

To review the text, ask the students to do the following tasks.

Complete the following chart:

Definition of culture shock…………………..
The culture shock stages…………………..
Definition of homesickness…………………..
How to cope with homesickness…………………..

Use the information in the above chart to write a summary of the text

Connecting the text to self/the world

To enhance more understanding, the learners must be encouraged to make connections between:

  • the text and themselves (text-to-self)
  • the text and other related texts they have read (text-to-text)
  • the text and the world (text-to-world)

In the following activity, the learners are invited to make (text-to-self connections.)

Imagine you have a pen pal who is coming to your country. He or she is going to stay with you for a few days. What aspects of your local culture do you think will shock him/her the most? (e.g. greeting, eating habits,….). Make a list of those cultural habits.

  1. ….
  2. ….
  3. ….
  4. ….


If you move abroad and feel homesick, what will you miss most about your home country? (e.g. food? Weather? Family? Friends?…) Write a paragraph! You can start your paragraph as follows:

If I ever move abroad I will certainly feel homesick. I will miss many things. …

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