Bridging Difference through Classroom Misunderstandings




Canadian culture, classroom misunderstandings, cultural misunderstandings, mistranslation


Cultural misunderstandings often arise because of the unstated assumptions or “background books†that each of us has. In the classroom, such misunderstandings can make for uncomfortable moments, but they can also lead to fruitful teaching experiences for teacher and student alike. Using a variety of examples that arose while teaching a module called “Canadian Culture†at a Slovenian university, I argue that such moments – such as when students seem not to have heard what I think was a clear message or bit of information – the resulting cultural misunderstanding can be educationally rewarding. They force us to break out of the question-and-answer routine that is often a part of the teaching process.


Blake, Jason. (2011). Slovenia: Culture smart! London: Kuperard.

Canada’s great classical actor William Hutt dies at 87 (2007, June 27). Retrieved from â˜

Brinton, Laurel J. and Margery Fee. (2001). Canadian English. In John Algeo (Ed.) The Cambridge history of the English language, Volume 6: English in North America (pp. 422–455). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Eco, Umberto. (1998). Serendipities: Language and lunacy. (William Weaver, trans.) New York: Columbia University Press.

Garebian, Keith. (1988). William Hutt: A theatre portrait. Oakville, On.: Mosaic Press.

Hempkin, Kirsten. (2008). Exploring stereotypes: Scottish and Slovene jokes in the classroom. ELOPE: English English language overseas perspectives and enquiries, 5(1/2), 171–183.

Johnson, Keith. (2017). An introduction to foreign language learning and teaching (3rd ed.). New York and London: Routledge.

Lemieux, Diana. (2016). Canada: Culture smart! London: Kuperard.

Lingenfelter, Judith and Lingenfelter, Sherwood. (2003). Teaching cross-culturally: An incarnational model for learning and teaching. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

McKay, Lee Sandra. (2002). Teaching English as an international language: Rethinking Goals and approaches. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Phillipson, Robert. (2013). Linguistic imperialism continued. New York and London: Routledge.

Reindl, Donald. (2008). Language Contact, German and Slovenian. Bochum: Brockmeyer Verlag.

Shaw, George Bernard. (n.d.). Saint Joan. Retrieved from â˜

Slethaug, Gordon E. (2007). Teaching abroad: International education and the cross-cultural classroom. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press

Tzvetkova, Juliana. (2015). Bulgaria: Culture Smart! London: Kuperard.

Woods, E.G. (1994). British studies in English language teaching. In Michael Byram (Ed.) Culture and language learning in higher education (pp. 79–90). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.




How to Cite

Blake, J. (2018). Bridging Difference through Classroom Misunderstandings. English Studies at NBU, 4(1), 5–18.