Abstract: Since different groups of people have different cultures, we need to comprehend other cultures. In this writing, the writer refers to Australian culture as the writer has lived there for one and a half years. Cross Cultural Understanding means understanding the culture of the target people so that we can reconstruct our attitudes and world view; consequently, we become more tolerate and more generous toward strange ways that may be shown by the target language people. Also the importance of understanding other culture will avoid misunderstanding and make inappropriate value judgments. Therefore, at the end we are not considered that our culture is better than other cultures.
Culture affects everything about an individual. His or her assumptions about life and the world, values and attitudes, habits of thought, patterns of behavior, relationships with others, and so forth. One can select anything about oneself, whether obvious or subtle, and relate it to one’s culture. Culture refers to all aspects of life in a community. It involves ways of doing things, ways of expressing themselves, ways of looking at thing, what things they should value and what is expected from and what they may expect from others. Tomasouw (1986) distinguishes culture and civilization. Civilization refers to areas such as geography, history, artistic, and literary achievement. While culture is something to do with every day life style of ordinary citizens and the values belief and prejudice they share with their fellow within their linguistic and social groups with due attention to intragroup differences (of social class, for example).
Larson and Immaley as cited by Tomasouw (1986) define culture as a “blue print”. Culture guides the behavior of people in a community and then is developed in family life. This culture controls the people’s behavior and also helps us know what other expects and what will happen if we do not fulfill their expectation. Chaer and Agustina (1995) points out that culture consists of standards for deciding what is, standards for deciding what can be, standards for deciding how one feels about it, standards for deciding what to do about it, and standards for deciding how to go doing it. Moreover, according to Goodenough ciited by Wardhaugh (1986), culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members, and to do so in any role that they accept for any one of themselves. To sum up, different groups of people have different cultures. However, this culture is limited by a period of time. Cross Cultural Understanding means understanding the culture of the target people so that we can reconstruct our attitudes and world view; consequently, we become more tolerate and more generous toward strange ways that may be shown by the target language people. We are not considered that our culture is better than other cultures.
Some aspects of the differences in culture between Indonesia and Australian inspire me to write the paper “Some Australian Culture Values”.
2. Some Aspects of Cultural Values
1. Women’s Attitude
In Indonesia, women still struggle to get some respects and social rights as well as man. On the other hand, women in Australia have one step further. They are considered to achieve equality in social and economic. They are active in all aspects of life. They are involved in political, governments, jobs, and sports. At home, both husband and wife play the same role. They have responsibility in parenting and raising the children. They help to take care of the children and the house. The husband shares many important decisions with the wife, and sometimes with the children.
In recent years, more women have been working. They earn money to help their husbands and the family. Even Some women have decided not to have children at all. In conclusion, Women have two major important differences in women’s role. They have many more choices to marry or to stay single. They have also a choice to work or to stay at home. Another different role is within marriage many decisions and responsibilities are shared. Women may choose to have children or they may not.
2. Child Rising
In Australia, it is normal for the young children sleep in their own rooms, separate with their parents. Children are taught to live independently. They are also taught to make the decisions and be responsible for what they have done. Parents are used to put the baby in a separate room. They can have their privacy and the baby can get used to sleep in their own rooms, which is seen as a step towards personal independence. Children are encouraged to stand on their own feet. They are taught earlier to make decisions and be responsible for their activity. Children often work for money outside the home as a first step to establishing autonomy.
When they are 18 years, they are encouraged to leave the home and start their new life. They maybe have a little support in terms of social and financial matter from their family. Children arrange their own marriage and career. Parents try to influence the children in choosing their careers but the decision is in the children’s hand.
3. Appointments and Punctuality
Business and social calls are made by appointment in advance. Only close personal friends of long standing have the privilege of “dropping in” without notice. Professional people usually have secretaries who will set the date and time in advance when you contact them.
If an appointment cannot be kept, it is common to telephone or to write to cancel it. This should be done soon enough so that the other person may have to plan to something else to his own work.
Being on time is considered a mark of respect and also an indication of efficiency. In fact, persons who use their time to the best advantage usually accomplish more than those who do not, thus providing that they are really efficient.
4. Educational Attitudes
Most classes in Australia encourage students to work independently. Students are expected to participate in the discussions. Many courses are organized around discussions, students’ questions and informal lectures. Therefore participation is a must for students. Furthermore, students are also encouraged to analyze and criticize information obtained from various sources. This could be different from what we have at school in Indonesia. At school we are expected to memorize and accept information from teachers and textbooks.
Students and teachers relationship is sometimes informal. They build a relaxed atmosphere as one of ways to improve the quality of learning and teaching process. Most teachers prefer to be called by their first names. Students show their respect differently. They treat many other groups with the same informality like secretaries, lab technicians, librarians, and cleaners.
5. Work Attitudes
Attitudes towards work in Australia have been very much influenced by the work ethic. This work ethic motivates people to work hard so that they become successful. This ethic was one of the results of the religious belief that success was a sign of God’s favor and those who were successful were among God’s chosen and would go to heaven. However, today the work ethic has lost its religious significance instead of materialism. It is more concerned with wealth and possessions.
People also believe that when they are working, producing, and achieving something, they will be rewarded. There is equality of opportunity that allows anyone to become successful. There are some people who really do succeed in gaining their economical and social events. Many employees have a succession of jobs constitute a career. Employees get the opportunity to progress to higher position in business, organizations, government agencies and firms not looking at what his/her family background. Promotions and increased responsibility also usually bring an increase in salary. Employees will be rewarded for achievement in work. These rewards could be in personal and financial as well.
There is increased job satisfaction when employees have the opportunity to develop creative and intellectual skills. Moreover, the employees will gain appreciation from their colleagues, fellow workers, supervisors, and managers. It means that they are given a sense of importance and identity in society.
The government recognizes the importance of work as a means for survival. It has established several systems as compensation for people who are unemployed or underemployed. Some retired people also receive a pension, which is based on how long they worked at one job.
6. Time and Space Patterns
Australian people concern very much with the time and how time is treated. Being on time is considered of respectful other people. The trains, the bus, and all public transportation are scheduled on time. If they are in case arrived late, they will give an explanation and sorry for being late.
Promptness is important in American business academic and social settings. Punctuality is important and is taught to children in school. The children in school are taught to respect punctuality and time. People who keep appointments are considered dependable. However, people who don’t keep their appointments, who are late to job interviews or classes are said to be unreliable and irresponsible. In the business world “time is money”. Of course it is not always possible to be punctual on prompt. Social and business etiquette provides rules for people who arrive late. When you think you are going to be late for scheduled meetings, it is considered polite and it is often expected that you make a phone call. It is considered rude if you keep a date or a friend waiting for ten to twenty minutes.
Respecting deadlines is also important and professional circles. It is expected from the students that deadlines for class assignments be met. Students who hand in their assignment late may be surprised to find that the professor will give them a low mark or even refuse to mark their papers. Whether it is a question of arriving on time or meeting a deadline, people are culturally conditioned to regulate time.
7. Gestures/Body Language
Besides verbal and written communication, there is a kind of communication that takes place without words. Non-verbal communication expresses meaning or feelings without words universal emotions such as happiness fear and sadness are expressed in the same non-verbal way throughout the world. But there are non-verbal differences across culture that may be confusing to foreigners. Fro example the feeling of friendship exists but their expression varies. It may be acceptable for men to embrace each other and for women to hold hands but in other countries this may be shocking. What is acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable another gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and the use of space affect communication and it is necessary to study silent language of that culture.
Gestures are specific body movements that carry meaning. Hands can from shapes that convey meaning fro example “come here”, “go away”, “It’s OK”. These gestures may differ among languages and cultures.
Facial expressions carry meaning determined by contexts and relationships. The smiles have many functions. The smile the woman gives to the policeman who is about to give her ticket is not the same as the smile she gives to a child. A smile can show affection or disgust true feelings. A grammar may convey, pain, disgust, or disapproval. Raising the eyebrows may mean surprise, shock or disbelief. A wish to a friend may mean “you and I have a secret”. But between a man and a woman it can be flirtations.
Eye contact is important because insufficient or excessive eye contact may create communication barriers. It is important because it shows intimacy, attentions, and influence. It is considered rude to start at other people or strangers. In a conversation too little eye contact may mean lack of interest inattention or mistrust. The relation of eye contact and mistrust is stated in. “Never trust a person who can’t look you in the eyes”.
We are usually more comfortable standing closer to family members than to strangers. The amount of space we need depends on the interpersonal relationship. Personality also determines the size of this space. Fro Australians, distance in social conversations is about an arm’s length to four feet. Less space in Australian culture may be associated with greater intimacy or aggressive behavior. “Excuse me”, “Pardon me” for the slightest accidental touching of another person shows the American attitude about personal space.
When a person’s space is intruder by someone, he or she may feel threatened and react defensively. In cultures where close physical contact is acceptable, the Americans may be perceived as cold and distant. Context personalities and relationship also influence our body movement. Therefore, Non-verbal communication “can’t” be completely separated from culture.
The term “culture” refers to the behavior patterns or lifestyles of people. The introduction of different cultures cannot avoid conveying the impressions of other culture, particularly Australian culture. Language cannot be separated from the culture in which deeply embedded as cited by Sutiono in Rivers (1981:305). Activities like listening to the utterances of the native speakers, any reading of the English texts, any use of the language will introduce cultural elements, the students will look down upon and become unfriendly to the speakers of the language they are learning. Also The importance of understanding other culture is to avoid misunderstanding and make inappropriate value judgments. Finally, The inclusion of culture in the classroom could well provide an important bridge for the language student in his research for relevance.
Hasyim, Hanoum Laila. 1986. Cross Cultural Understanding. Karunika. Jakarta.
Rivers, Wilga M. 1981. Teachng Foreign Language Skills. The Universiyt of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.
Sutiono, Cayandrawati. Introducing Culture in EFL Classrooms. Metafor, 1:39-44.
Tomasouw, Pauline. 1986. Cross Cultural Understanding. Karunika. Jakarta.
Valdes, Joyce Merrill. 1986. Cultural Bound. The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. USA.