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Conflict resolution role cards - an intercultural roleplay

Korean:

You are a Korean language teacher who lived in the Philippines for two years and then moved to Japan where you lived for 5 years. You have just returned to the Philippines for a new teaching position and an old Filipino friend meets you at the airport. After you greet your friend (you bowed and then shook hands), your friend seems to get angry.

You are not sure why your friend is angry, but you need to find out. Follow the cultural conflict resolution process:

1. Both people explain what they find unusual about the other's behavior.
2. Each person realizes the other's cultural perceptions.
3. Each person learns how the problem would be handled in the other's culture.
4. Together, the two people develop conflict solutions.

Filipino:

You are picking your Korean friend up at the airport. You used to be great friends but you haven't seen him in 5 years so you expect a warm welcome. However, your friend arrives all you get is a cold bow and a quick handshake. You were expecting an embrace and then a little chat with your friend's arm around your shoulders.

Find out why your friend is acting so coldly. It may be a cultural conflict but then again, it may not be; your friend did live in the Philippines for 2 years. Try the cultural conflict resolution process:

1. Both people explain what they find unusual about the other's behavior.
2. Each person realizes the other's cultural perceptions.
3. Each person learns how the problem would be handled in the other's culture.
4. Together, the two people develop conflict solutions.

Teacher's notes

An assessment rubric for this roleplay is available: Intercultural communication roleplay assessment rubric.

1. I use this at the beginning of a Catholic University EFL class called Intercultural Communication. I start with an introduction/discussion of the conflict resolution process for intercultural communication. The one given here was created from an American perspective. It is worth asking students if they think it needs to be modified in certain circumstances. For example would a Korean and a Filipino find this process useful?

2. Set the scene. Two friends haven't seen each other in 5 years. The one who moved away is returning and will be met at the airport by an old friend. Give students a few minutes to read their role cards, ask questions, and plan what they are going to say.

3. Students work in pairs. If necessary there can be one group of 3. I believe it's best for the teacher to circulate and listen to the language being produced and the way students negotiate the conflict resolution steps.

4. It is important to give and get feedback from students. I suggest a discussion after each round of roleplays in which one pair describes their exchange to another pair. Students can then try the roleplay again with a new partner or after trading roles). I've also had students write reports on what they said during each of the 4 steps. Students found this very difficult, and it showed me that they did not really understand steps 2, 3 and 4.

5. I make one student Korean because my students are Korea. Any nationality can be substituted. For example I've also done this roleplay where the student returning from Japan is an American English teacher. The nationality and the job can be changed for student A, but probably not for the Filipino student.