International Time Zones and Attitudes towards Time
From APEC HRDWG Wiki
APEC economies cover over 10 time zones and several interpretations of the "importance of time." This teaching tip provides a summary of a very simple introduction to the concept of time in a cross-cultural environment. It also introduces students to the often confusing idea of time zones.
- To introduce students to time zones and to conceptual and value differences toward time in the business world
- To encourage students to be aware of common mistakes that young people can make in terms of time
- To provide opportunities for students to practice discussing time differences
- To find a good website where times zones are listed
1. First, discuss your local culture’s attitude toward time. What does being punctual mean in your culture? Is it considered rude to keep people waiting? Are the rules different for business and personal appointments? Is it okay to be late for lunch with your mother, but not okay to be late for work?
2. Next, discuss how many time zones your economy has. If more than one, review what the time differences are between your local area and other parts of the economy.
3. Next, have the class break up into pairs and give each pair a copy of Exercise 1; review the instructions with the class. Review the answers with the class when everyone is done, correcting as necessary.
4. Now, give each pair a copy of “Wong’s First Day at the Kiosk.” Have them identify Wong’s mistakes and tell what he should have done instead.
5. Finally, have them finish the role play with Wong and Mr. Kim negotiating a resolution to their problem.
6. Advanced activity (thinking outside the box): talking about others’ needs
Ask the students to brainstorm problems that could arise when working with people in different time zones. How can those problems be solved so that everyone is comfortable? How much should we be willing to compromise?
Share the best ideas from each group with the whole class.
English for Business and Diplomacy: time, audience awareness, and intercultural communication
Learning to know; life-long learning
Iowa State University Study Abroad Center. (2010).Cultural differences. Retrieved from www.celt.iastate.edu/international/CulturalDifferences3.html
Johnson, K. (2006).Working with people in different time zones. Retrieved from www.logigear.com/newsletter-2006/277-working-through-language-time-and-cultural-differences-part-2-of-3.html
Kantrowitz, M. (2010). Time and temperature. Retrieved from www.edupass.org/culture/time.phtml
Charles Hall, PhD, dr. h. c., Department of English, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA
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Also see The Changing World of Technology