The cultural imperative: Global trends in the 21st century


The information age, the current phase of globalisation and the influence of the Internet are changing the way we think about cultures and communities and, as language and cultural trainers, potentially about what and how we teach. This paper explores how Western culture and economic power have grown to dominate the world, particularly through international business, international relations and social trends. Using the Lewis Model of three types of culture (linear-active, multi-active, and re-active) the author explains how traditional linear-active cultural dominance is declining in the 21st century and is being replaced by values of the new great powers. The paper identifies four key cultural influencers, China, India, Russia and the West and discusses the role of Japan and Canada in this era of change. The two key cultural values coming to the forefront are Asianisation and feminine values and the author discusses their implications for language teaching and learning and the development of cultural awareness.

KEYWORDS: cultural awareness, language learning, teacher training, globalisation, the Internet, the Lewis model, Asianisation, feminine values

RICHARD D. LEWIS. One of Britain’s foremost linguists, brought Berlitz to East Asia, Portugal and Finland and spent several years in Japan, where he personally tutored Empress Michiko and five other Japanese Imperial Family members. When Cultures Collide, his guide to world business cultures translated into 15 languages, has sold over 1,000,000 copies and won the prestigious US Executive Book Club award. Currently lectures throughout the world on cross-cultural issues and writes prolifically. His latest book, with Kai Hammerich, is Fish Can’t See Water. Received a Finnish knighthood in 1997, for his 40 years’ experience helping Finland develop international links. Was promoted to Knight Commander in 2009, Order of the Lion of Finland.

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