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Course Title: Oral English

Lesson Title: Cultural Taboos


Materials Needed: Taboo game cards, case scenario

Lesson Objectives:
1. SWBAT comprehend the term “taboo” and apply the concept to a discussion of
Western theory and practice.
2. SWBAT recognize the vocabulary words and describe those words to his/her
peers in order to achieve mutual understanding.
3. SWBAT reflect upon the various taboos both in Western culture and in their own.

Warm up- Class discussion—10 minutes

What is a taboo? What are examples of taboo behaviors in Chinese culture…American


culture? What are the different behaviors/styles of dress/language to apply in ______
setting (e.g. funeral, wedding, birthday party, club, job interview, as a guest in someone’s
home, in your own bedroom, etc.)? Discuss the difference between taboo and illegal.

Introduction—5-7 minutes

Introduce lesson objectives and explain the game Taboo to students, including rules and
the game’s object. Do two examples of the game for demonstration purposes and clarify
any questions. Divide students into groups.

Activity—30-40 minutes

Play Taboo in groups of 6-8 students.

Presentation—15-20 minutes

Students return to their original seats and the class discusses any questionable
vocabulary. Present case scenarios to the class and “Name that Taboo” as a class
(identify any inappropriate behaviors according to various cultures and suggest
alternative appropriate behaviors). The class will discuss how a situation would differ
depending on the culture in which it occurs.

Practice—20 minutes

Students divide into pairs and write their own role play that exemplifies either avoiding a
cultural taboo or acting out a taboo. They have 20 minutes to write this role play, which
will they perform the next class day.

Reflection—10 minutes

Students will write personal reflections in their journals, including any questions they
may have regarding taboos, as well as opinions about taboos in the West.
Taboo Cards

Dog Marriage McDonald’s Read

Animal husband food words


Bark wife hamburger book
Pet wedding Ronald newspaper
Rabies love fries characters
Cute promise American look

Apple Party Mosquito Winter

Fruit birthday blood cold


Red celebrate swamp season
Store food bite jacket
Market dancing scratch season
Eat music itch Christmas

Water Tree Write Graduation

Clear outside pen finish


Bottle green pencil school
Drink leaf paper diploma
Thirsty tall teacher job
H20 family school learn

Computer Book Kitchen Flower

Machine read room smell


Internet pages house beautiful
Notebook school eat romantic
Word backpack food wedding
Memory text table funeral

Doctor Dentist Stereo Shoe

Sick teeth radio foot


Medicine clean CD wear
White brush listen toe
Prescription mouth music sandal
Cold cavities speakers heels
Case Scenario 1

Mary and Roger are at a movie theatre to see the new blockbuster, “War of the Worlds.”
Mary’s cell phone rings and she answers; it is her mother. They begin to argue over the
phone while Roger and others try to hear the movie.

Case Scenario 2

John and Lisa have been dating for over a year and are starting to get serious. They have
much affection for each other and express this very openly. Usually in public places,
John and Lisa will kiss passionately for minutes at a time.

Case Scenario 3

Will works with low-income families to train them for the job market. One of his clients
is from a different culture and has different ideas about personal hygiene. Will has
noticed others sometimes avoid this man, or even point and laugh at him in public due to
his smell. Will kindly tells the man about this problem and provides some advice.

Case Scenario 4

Mike just arrived in China to teaching English as a foreign language. First, he must
undergo training; he arrived at his training site and has been living with his host family
for only a week. He has noticed that his family wears slippers while inside their home,
and leave their shoes for outdoors by the front door. Mike thinks it is interesting but is
more comfortable wearing his shoes around the house. His fellow teachers have
recommended that he get some slippers to follow this household custom but he refuses.
Perfume dog light beer

Lady animal dark drink


Smell cute switch drunk
Pretty puppy turn bottle
Store pet see glass
Buy cat read party

Mirror bed listen happy

See sleep hear good


Self lie attention feel
Appearance sheet ears sad
Hair pillow look peace
Look rest talk fun

Nation watch see cry

Country time eyes sad


China clock look tears
America minutes vision wet
Live hour watch eyes
Provinces seconds objects bad

Movie bus toe taxi

Characters ride foot driver


Film stop little seat
Theatre people nail car
Story driver shoe take
Love go ankle pay

Cinderella holiday finger market

Story relax hand buy


Prince break small sell
Slipper work write pay
Stepsister rest use food
Godmother travel nail fruit
Course Title: Oral English
Lesson Title: Cultural Taboos
Materials Needed: Taboo game cards, case scenario

Lesson Objectives:
1. SWBAT comprehend the term “taboo” and apply the concept to a discussion of
Western theory and practice.
2. SWBAT recognize the vocabulary words and describe those words to his/her
peers in order to achieve mutual understanding.
3. SWBAT reflect upon the various taboos both in Western culture and in their own.
4. SWBAT create practical and relevant interview questions based on their
understanding of the taboo concept.

Warm-Up: 30 minutes
Students will act out their role plays and students will discuss these as examples
of either appropriate or taboo behavior.

Activity: 20 minutes
Students work in pairs and are given at least one example of a potential taboo.
They discuss this behavior and write the behavior on the board in the Venn diagram
under either: China, U.S., or both. The class will discuss each of these after each pair is
done.

Extension activity:
Students will interview two people in their community about what behaviors they
believe to be taboo. The two interviewees must be different in some way (e.g. one old
and one young, one student and one worker, etc) in order to provide two different
perspectives. Students will bring their responses back for class discussion. Students will
use class time to discuss interview protocol and begin writing their interview questions.
The interviews will be due the next class period or in three days, whichever is longer.
Taboo Examples for Review

Burping

Kissing for a long time in public

Cutting in line

Pushing while in a crowd

Littering

Being loud in public

Picking your nose

Spitting

Commenting on someone’s appearance

Cheating

Failing to discipline children while in public

Grooming in public (e.g. putting on makeup)

Sitting while an elderly person or pregnant woman stands

Insulting someone

Asking someone why he/she is not married

Asking why a person does not have children