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confusionThis summer, my English 9 and 10 students and I wrote a sample standard essay in class as a demonstration. Here is the result.

A Case of Cultural Confusion

People move to Canada every day and become a part of a new country and a new culture. This is mostly a positive experience; however, often immigrants can find the new place and its customs a bit confusing in the classroom, in the community and on public transportation.

One of the problems that new immigrants have is how to behave with other people in a new culture. In a classroom, many cultures have more respect for a teacher than Canadians do. For example, teachers in other countries are addressed more formally as “Sir” or “Teacher.” In Canada, on the other hand, teachers of adults will use a first name. This can make new students quite uncomfortable and will lead to things like “Mr. Brad,” which is my first name, not my family’s. Behaviour in a classroom is often the first place that causes confusion for a new immigrant.

But it is not only in the classroom that we find puzzling cultural rules; we also find it in the community. One time, a student of mine told me a funny story about crossing the road. She was from Beijing and thought that she must wait for the cars before crossing. When a Canadian driver stopped to let her cross, she didn’t know what to do. She stood there, waiting. Finally, she realized that she must cross and that, sometimes, the pedestrian comes first, not the car. In the community, funny things can also happen that causes newcomers to be puzzled.

Another place that is confusing to a new person is when travelling on public transportation. In many places, a conductor will collect the fare after you board the bus and not the driver. It is often possible to carry larger bills and pay. Here, however, we need exact change for the machine; otherwise, we cannot travel. One other funny thing is that, in Canada, we must open the door ourselves to exit the bus. Some newcomers will wait patiently and then the bus goes on to the next stop. Public transport is a confusing place for new people.

In moving to a new country, people face many kinds of confusing situations. At times, they may even feel that it would be easier just to return home than to learn all these new and crazy rules. 

--384 words; first draft with the participation of the English 9/10 class on July 15, 2010

 (August 17, 2010)