A Cross-Cultural Discussion of Japan and South Korea and How Differences Are Manifested in the ESL/EFL Classroom

  •  Scott Aubrey    


Despite geographical closeness and historical intertwining, Japan and South Korea are culturally very different; in some cases, polar opposites. For instance, Japanese art and aesthetics favor simplicity and straight lines while Koreans prefer bold, colorful and cluttered designs. Other characteristics show us their different ways of thinking. Japanese suppress their emotions in social situations, and Koreans are known for quickly changing their mood from one extreme to another. An awareness of the similarities and differences of these cultures can help outsiders deal with interactions. For the purpose of this paper, I will look at four specific cultural differences relating to Korea and Japan: religion and Confucianism, detailed versus holistic thinking, patriotism through history, and homogeneity. After establishing these differences, I will then describe how they manifest themselves in an EFL/ESL classroom environment by drawing on my own teaching experiences in these countries.

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