cultural horizons institute

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Cultural Horizons Institute Short Courses

The Cultural Horizons Institute currently offers a variety of Short Courses in partnership with local universities and organizations. Contact us with any requests.

Learning Language Through Music and Everyday Speech

Often in learning a second language we find that the sentences, phrases and words we study in our textbooks don’t match up with those used in everyday speech. This session is designed to capitalize on common misunderstandings related to slang, colloquial expressions and everyday speech in order to improve participants’ fluency and naturalness of language use. Session objectives include:

  • Building your vocabulary of everyday words and sayings
  • Increasing your awareness of the distinction between textbook and street speech
  • Improving your pronunciation, speed and fluency in your second language

Intercultural Communication Challenge: Communication in a Global World

It is said that the hardest thing to learn is what we don’t know we don’t know. Such is definitely the case in the world of intercultural communication. This session is designed to highlight the sometimes dramatic outcomes that occur when we come to the table in an intercultural setting assuming that our cultural norms are universal truths to which our conversation partners will naturally adhere.  Session objectives include:

  • Highlighting that cultural assumptions are often the root of misunderstanding
  • Increasing awareness of your own cultural assumptions and blind-spots
  • Building your ability to challenge your own beliefs in the context of intercultural interactions

Business Norms and Values in Diverse Settings

First impressions are lasting impressions and the impressions we make on potential business partners and colleagues can influence our careers for years in the future. Often, we are not even aware of the things we said or did that won us the favor of our business associates or what turned them away from us only to offer praise and accolades to our co-workers. This may happen in any setting, but add cultural miscommunication and changing global norms and there is even more to handle in international business. This session will highlight common practices for conflict mediation, making requests and general office salutations to prepare participants for interactions in diverse settings. Session objectives include:

  • Introduction of the conscious and unconscious norms and values often used in the workplace
  • Gaining a consciousness of the differences in norms and values in another culture.
  • Learn how to interact with people in business settings when there are cultural differences among the group.

Understanding Culture Through Proverbs

We are what we say. Our thoughts, proverbs, idioms and actions are closely connected. One way to understand the actions of another person is to ask them what words they live by which are often connected to statements passed through mentors, teachers or cultural wisdom. This session explores common proverbs within cultures to help participants understand the norms and values in other parts of the world. Session objectives include:

  • Learn to express yourself using proverbs or sayings in your second language
  • Dialog about the deeper meaning of common sayings as a way to understand the connection to cultural norms and values.


Culture Tip:

The importance of Chinese guan-xi...

In the early phases of founding the Cultural Horizons Institute, I was describing the curriculum and business plan to a potential investor from Shanghai. With great care I went over in my best broken-Mandarin the carefully thought out details of our approach. Proud that I had gotten through the course description and decidedly ready to answer almost any question that came my way, I was unexpectedly caught off guard by her reply: “But how can I explain to the other investors the value of your program? How will you establish the value to them?” Confused, I struggled to re-explain the content, goal and financial viability of our work. After dancing around conversation in search of a satisfying for the next twenty minutes, I came to understand the nature of her underlying question.  What she wanted to know was: “Who are the publicly well-known endorsers? Who are the team members? With what prestigious university will you be affiliated?” In other words, tell me about your guan-xi – your relationships.


News Flash:

Wall Street Journal:
Personal Lives, Office Lives

Chinese draw the lines between personal and professional life differently than Americans do, and the idea of "colleagues" isn't the same in the two countries… READ MORE

By Li Yuan, published February 19, 2008

New York Times:

As American educators seek to emulate Asian pedagogy... Chinese educators are trying to blend a Western emphasis on critical thinking, versatility and leadership into their own traditions… READ MORE

By Ann Hulbert, published April 1, 2007.

New York Times:
Non Asians Show a Growing Interest in Chinese Courses

With its booming economy and aspirations to expand its global influence, China may have achieved a victory in American classrooms… READ MORE

By Natasha Degen and Winnie Hu, published November 29, 2006.


"I appreciated that the workshop allowed us to step back from our studies and reflect on life. I liked the critical thinking aspect of it and how there was not a black and white clear-cut answer. I also liked the environment that you tried to foster by understanding that people feel vulnerable in situations where they have to speak out in a large group." - University of Pacific Student, Fall 2007

Copyright © 2007 Cultural Horizons Institute, an ontogeny of Thalas, All rights reserved.