AATF National Commission on Cultural Competence

Understanding Culture
Indicators of Competence

Click here for French Version.

A. Empathy

Upon reaching each of the stages below, the learner

Stage 1

  • is curious about similarities and differences between the home and the target culture.
  •  shows willingness to understand the differences encountered.

Stage 2

  •  is tolerant of differences between the home and target culture.  is open and accepting of different peoples.
  •  recognizes the depth and complexity of cultural differences.
  •  shows an active interest in the search for understanding of the target culture.

Stage 3

  •  is aware of the problem of accepting the norms of another culture while maintaining one's own values and identity.
  •  shows fair-mindedness and tolerance in trying to solve an embarrassing situation or a cross-cultural conflict.
  •  can adjust behavior and conversation according to the situational context and to the expectations of participants.

Stage 4

  •  recognizes the importance of understanding manifestations of the target culture in terms of its own context.
  •  is aware of his/her own cultural perspective and of how this perspective influences one's perceptions of phenomena.
  •  can act and react in a culturally appropriate way while being aware of his/her "otherness."

B. Ability to Observe and Analyze a Culture

Upon reaching each of the stages below, the learner

Stage 1

  •  can give examples of the relationship between language and culture.
  • can identify a few characteristics of the target culture as cultural patterns.
  • can identify a few common cultural differences between home and target cultures.
  • can identify some commonly-held images of the target culture as stereotypes.

Stage 2

  • can demonstrate understanding that cultural values, patterns, and institutions cannot be used to predict the behavior of all individuals.
  • can give examples of an observer's own cultural biases interfering with understanding of the target culture.
  • can give an example of how cultures change over time.
  • can discuss ways in which cultural norms and values are transmitted.
  • can give examples of one culture influencing another.

Stage 3

  • can give examples of social behaviors that express the target culture's underlying value system.
  • can describe and explain important elements of major institutions in the target culture.
  • can interpret social phenomena within the context of the target culture.
  • can describe several instances of major change within the target culture.
  • can describe some major forces that influence culture and cultural change.

Stage 4

  • recognizes that a culture is not uniform and can identify the principal subcultures of the target culture.
  • can critique phenomena of the target culture with a minimum of bias.
  • can interpret social phenomena at several levels of generalization.
  • can describe the multifaceted character of sociocultural phenomena.

C. Communication in Cultural Context (Verbal and Non-Verbal)

Upon reaching each of the stages below, the learner

Stage 1

  • knows what verbal havior is appropriate in different greeting and leave-taking routines.
  • knows that there are familiar and polite forms of address.
  • recognizes some easily interpreted gestures.
  • is aware of difference in demeanor in formal and informal social settings.

Stage 2

  • uses appropriate titles of address and formula in survival-level situations.
  • can use familiar and polite forms of address appropriately.
  • demonstrates knowledge of some common formulas used in communications.
  • is aware of the difference in conversational distance in the U.S.A. and in France.

Stage 3

  • can express attitudes towards people taking into account social context.
  • has some knowledge of regional variations in the target language.
  • can interpret some common French gestures not used in American culture.
  • can establish and maintain appropriate distance in conversations with French people.

Stage 4

  • is able to function appropriately in a wide range of social and professional contexts.
  • can understand and explain humor or irony in a cultural context.
  • can use typically French gestures and sounds.
  • understands some current physical gestures that accompany or evoke traditional colloquialisms.

 

Last update: July 31, 2015.