Stereotypes between Germany and the United States (interactive)

Photo taken in August 2010

From the Classroom

Our next posting features another app being tried out for both the two online columns as well as for future classroom usage. This one deals with a topic that is traditionally common when talking about the culture of another- namely in this case, Germany and the United States.

Before we begin, let’s grab a sheet of paper and a pencil, for I have a few questions for you, beginning with the first one:

1. When it comes to stereotypes in general, what factors come to mind? Is it the behavior of the people and the culture, or the landscapes? What about holidays and opinions about important topics, such as the environment, politics and international relations, and even family affairs? How would you define stereotypes and what examples go into this theme?

2. After taking a few minutes to write down some notes, let’s make a list of things that are typical of America. This can be based on what you see on TV, when you encounter Americans or even visit the US. You can make two columns with positive and negative characteristics if you want to.

3. Once you have completed your list, click on the following two videos and follow the instructions below.

Video One

a. Write down some observations from the video and compare them to your notes.

b. What differences can you identify between what was in the video and what you had on your list?

c. Do you agree or disagree with what was mentioned in the video? 

4. After answering the questions, have a look at the next video clip and determine whether this stereotype is typically American or if it is overexaggerated because you find it in your home country.

Video Two (Note: Two video clips courtesy of YouTube, which can be found here and here.)

5. Once you are finished with the American stereotypes, make another list of steoertypes of Germany and Germans, based on the media coverage and how you encounter them. Once you have finished the list, watch this video and do the exact same exercise as in the first video on American stereotypes (comparing what is on the video and on your list and agreeing or disagreeing to what is on the video) 

Video Three

 6. Once you have completed the above-mentioned exercises, make a comparison between what is typical of Germans and that of Americans and find out whether there are some similarities between the two. The reason for that is because of a question I have regarding the integration vs. exclusivity  of the two cultures:

Do you think that German culture is being integrated into American culture in terms of food and drink, behavior, sports, politics, etc., or do the Germans, despite the American ninfluence, refer to maintain their culture consisting of fast cars, trains and Bratwursts?

Many Germans emigrate to the United States and Americans,  vice versa. What factors influence the decision to move to the other country?

People refer to the US as the Land of Unlimited Possibilities, but nothing like that exists in Germany? Why is that in your opinion?

If you know someone who wishes to visit a foreign country, what should they do to avoid getting caught in a cultural shock and develop negative stereotypes of their own?

Once you are done making a list and answering the questions, please feel free to make a comment here in this article or on the facebook or Twitter page under the Flensburg Files or whereever it is posted. Please note that you must follow on Twitter before posting.  Looking forward to your comments and questions about this topic.