The Chinese language materials in the Culture App provide highly contextualized scenarios through which students can encounter, reflect on and think through real life scenarios, presented in narratives at approximately the Intermediate-High level, that illustrate differences in cultural norms and perceptions of appropriate behavior between North American culture in a general sense and that of regions in which Chinese is spoken. For learners not yet able to handle scenario-based cultural learning in the target language, corresponding materials are available in English that cover Chinese cultural scenarios.
For learners of Chinese, the materials presented in the Culture App under the tile labeled 中文 feature substantial use of Chinese language at approximately the Advanced level on the ACTFL scale. Materials presented under the tile labeled Chinese offer the same content in an English-only version for the benefit of learners who are not yet able to process advanced language. Both of these sets of materials deal with the same topical material; the language is the only difference between them. Please note: Materials in the 中文 tile of the Culture App appear in simplified OR traditional Chinese characters according to the setting of the scenario. Each scenario is available only in the appropriate character set and is not labeled as “simplified” or “traditional.” Learners who wish to scaffold their learning of one or the other character set may wish to copy the scenario text and run it through an online converter. The scenarios are intended to be useful in a variety of instructional contexts that include different proficiency levels, previous cultural knowledge, pre-departure orientations and post-study abroad reflection, face-to-face and online delivery, as well as sessions in which role-play and other performative tasks are employed to engage these cultural issues.
About the Chinese Scenarios
The Culture App groups cultural scenarios into modules, representing major themes or Topics, such as “Behavior in Public.” For an interactive overview of the app’s navigation structure, visit the Quickstart Guide within the app. More information on the app structure can be found in the app section of this website.
Through the simulated scenarios in each module, users examine elements of Chinese culture across a range of geographic and situational contexts. The scenarios also challenge the user to think about and discuss methods for responding to everyday situations that one may encounter in China, using cues from the narrative and contextual information provided. Each scenario is preceded by a chart that sets up the context of the situation, followed by the narrative or vignette that presents a story. Each story contains a chain of events which results in a cultural misunderstanding or inappropriate response.
After reviewing the scenario, the user is given several (usually four) options that attempt to provide an explanation as to what went wrong, what action should have taken place, what actions could still be used to improve the situation’s outcome, or what actions to avoid. Each option or judgment task gives the user an opportunity to ponder and then rate their personal agreement with an explanatory statement or possible course of action. These judgment tasks in each scenario, rated by a panel of scholars familiar with Chinese culture and language, provide feedback on the user’s responses. In the feedback, the user sees their own response juxtaposed with a reference range. The reference range represents a “zone of convergence” that members of Chinese-speaking cultures would generally share with regard to each judgment task statement. A small range indicates greater agreement among members of the culture, while a wider range indicates expanded perspectives or a generally wider range of views.
Approaching the Scenarios
Before using the materials, it is important to note that the focus of each situation should not be on finding the “right” or “wrong” answer. Although judgment tasks are rated on a numerical scale indicating acceptability (0 being the least appropriate response and 5 being the most appropriate response), you might also think of this in terms of “more culturally appropriate” or “less culturally appropriate” responses, or even “more constructive” or “less constructive” responses.
Due to the non-binary nature of culture, the judgement tasks and associated ratings are meant to serve as a jumping off point to generate conversation and discussion about varying perspectives. While some situations presented are mostly straightforward, others may not have a clear or precise answer. Some may have multiple methods of approach. It is also useful to take into account additional nuances in the context that may even change the whole outcome or course for dealing with a situation in a culturally appropriate manner. For example, the response to a scenario may depend on several variables, which could alter the way one would handle the situation, such as who is the person performing an action, elements related to time, mode of communication, etc. These, along with many other factors, can all influence the way to successfully manage the outcome of a scenario. By changing even one of these elements, a different result may be the consequence.
By eliminating the focus on finding the “right” or “wrong” answer, these materials aim to generate discussion centered on the implications of each possibility. Culture is subjective in nature, so it is beneficial for the instructor to also weigh in and explain their viewpoint, especially if it is different from the one presented in these materials. In the end, the scenarios are tools to increase pragmatic knowledge, intercultural competence, greater dialogue and overall awareness. Reflecting on the experience, whether it be lived or hypothetical, is essential to strengthen one’s intercultural abilities. To further contextualize the events that have taken place, many scenarios provide a Culture Note and a Language Note (placed before or after a judgment task) as an additional resource, and many also include a Reflection task that can be used for guided discussion and further expansion on the topic in the classroom.
Instructors should consult the Instructor’s Manual for further context, including project credits and an updated list of scenarios in the App. Specific ideas for classroom and tutoring contexts-of-use are planned to be added to this page.
Chinese Flagship Culture Initiative Principal Investigator and Project Director
Yea-Fen Chen, Indiana University
Chinese Flagship Culture Initiative Assistant Director
Tianyu Qin, University of North Georgia
Stephen Tschudi, University of Hawai‘i
Instructional Technology Lead
Julio Rodríguez, University of Hawai‘i
Instructional Design Team Leads
Yea-Fen Chen, Indiana University
Charles Egan, San Francisco State University
Tianyu Qin, University of North Georgia
Madeline Spring, University of Hawai‘i
Jianhua Bai, Kenyon College
Zhuo Jing-Schmidt, University of Oregon
Mindy King, Limelight Analytics
Content Development and Testing
Yingling Bao, Indiana University
Xiaoying Liles, Indiana University
Tiao-Guan Huang, DePauw University
Ying-Ju Chen, Chinese Flagship Capstone Year Program, Taipei
Yu-Ting Jian, Indiana University
Yu-Ting Tseng, Indiana University
Yi Chun Kuo, Indiana University
Yu-Chi Tong, Indiana University
Der-lin Chao, Hunter College, CUNY
Ming-Ying Li, Hunter College, CUNY
Yuhshi Lee, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages
Data and Content Entry
Stephen Tschudi, University of Hawaiʻi
Tian Wang, University of Hawaiʻi
Images and Graphic Design
Julio C. Rodriguez, University of Hawaiʻi
Pedagogical Consultation and Review
Shuai Li, Georgia State University
Feng Xiao, Pomona College
Note: The following contents are avaiable in Chinese and English in the respective sections of the Culture App.
饮食礼仪与主客关系 • Food, Hosts and Relationships
餐桌礼仪 · Table Etiquette
欢迎晚宴 • The Welcome Banquet
慷慨的主人 • The Generous Host
夹菜 • Putting Food in Your Bowl
酒桌上的禮儀 • Etiquette at the Drinking Table
饮食与人之间的关系 · Food and Relationships
你吃饭了吗？• Have You Eaten Yet?
在教室里吃东西 • Eating in a Classroom
不同的用餐期待 • Criss-crossed Dinner Expectations
亲疏感: 朋友、陌生人、恋人• Boundaries – Between Friends and Strangers
友谊与爱情之间的分界线 • The Line Between Friendship and Romance
放假的时候我跟你回家合适吗？· Can I Come Visit Your Home?
我们只是普通朋友吗？· Are We Just Hanging Out or Is It a Date？
朋友之间的分寸边界 • Boundaries Between Friends
这人真难伺候 • A Demanding Friendship
碰别人的头发 · Touching Someone’s Hair
你为什么这样说? • Why Did You Say That?
对陌生人保持适当的距离 • Maintaining Boundaries with Strangers
一段近距离的，无声的遭遇 · A Close, Silent Encounter
美国人= 篮球教练？· American = Basketball Coach?
为什么大家都要跟我拍照？• Why Does Everyone Ask to Take a Picture with Me?
敏感政治话题 • Sensitive Political Topics
工作、学习环境中的人际关系 • Working In and With Hierarchical Systems
自行决定 vs 听从安排 · Making One’s Own Decisions vs. Following a Plan
住宿纠纷 · Accommodation Retaliation
消失之谜 • A Misinterpreted Disappearance
自己离开 • Wanting to Be Alone
对于工作日程表的不同态度 · Different Attitudes Towards Work Schedules
安排的改变 · A Change in Schedule
在办公室 • In the Office
去还是不去？• To Go or Not to Go?
对老师表示尊重 • Showing Respect to Teachers
课程大纲在哪？• Where’s The Syllabus?
考试提前离场 • Leaving Before the Exam Ends
朋友？老师？该赴谁的约？• Friends or Teachers: Which Invitation Should I Honor?
工作态度自我评价 · Proper Attitudes Towards One’s Work
你做得太好了 • You Did a Good Job
姓名与称呼 · Names and Forms of Address
称呼有什么关系？• What’s in an Address?
在公共场所 • BEHAVIOR IN PUBLIC SPACES
公交禮儀 • Using Public Transportation
我應該讓座嗎？• Should I Give Up My Seat?
台灣餐飲文化 • The Culture of Restaurant Dining in Taiwan
在一間早午餐餐廳 • At a brunch restaurant
琳琅滿目的飲料 • So Many Drinks to Choose From!
如何向路人尋求幫助？• How does one ask for help from a stranger?
嘿！這裡怎麼去？• Hey! Which Way Do I Go?
人情礼仪 • SOCIAL RITUALS
学术环境中的人情礼仪 • Social Rituals in Academic Settings
跟教授談學習計畫 • Talking About Study Plans with a Professor
分工合作 • Dividing Work in a Team
社会礼仪 – 友情的界限 • Social Rituals – Friendship
友情與隱私 • Friendship vs. Privacy
對朋友的期待 • Expectation of Friendship
特定情境下的語言使用 • Special Language Use Situations
表達哀悼 • Expressing Condolences
技术与媒体 • TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA
社交媒体上的语言使用 • Language Used on Social Media
失败的幽默 • When Humor Fails
不是這個意思嗎？• That’s Not What That Means?
社交平台上的惯常做法 • Conventional Practices on Social Platforms
對老師已讀不回 • Leaving Teachers on Read
老闆在LINE群裏發工作消息 • Receiving a Work-Related Message in a LINE Group
网上点餐要不要给小費？• Tipping for Food Delivery
The Chinese Flagship Culture Initiative is supported under grant funding to Indiana University from the Institute of International Education (IIE), acting as the administrative agent of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) for The Language Flagship.
The Language Flagship is a national initiative to change the way Americans learn languages through a groundbreaking approach to language education through a network of programs at institutions of higher education across the United States. The Language Flagship graduates students who will take their place among the next generation of global professionals, commanding a superior level of proficiency in one of ten languages critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.
This website has been developed and is maintained by The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center. The content of this website and of the Culture App do not necessarily reflect the position of policy of the U.S. government. No official government endorsement should be inferred.