Culture clash


One of my favourite discoveries this year has been Varham Muratyan’s Paris versus New York series. Varham is an artist and designer and created the beautiful Paris versus New York which is due to be published as a book  later this year. The idea was to show the greatest cultural differences between Paris and New York, two of the most brilliant capital cities in the world. The series has also been animated by graphic designer Tony Miottto, resulting in a captivating video that encompasses some of these two cities’ most famous exports:

Paris vs New York from TonyMiotto on Vimeo.

This would be a wonderful task for EFL students to embark upon, especially as a longer project-based activity. Ask your students to create their own … versus England series, comparing England with their own country and creating a big poster or a series of little posters with different cultural comparisons. For example, your Spanish students might put churros as the typical Spanish dessert, compared with apple pie or rhubarb crumble in England. Big Ben might be England’s most famous landmark, and the Sagrada Familia Spain’s. If you have a Chinese student, they might pick Ang Lee as their most recognisable film director, while they might choose Alfred Hitchcock to represent England.

Of course, your students’ work might not turn out quite as beautifully as Varham’s own illustrations, but even if your class isn’t the most artistic around, their posters would be a great way to spark plenty of debate: you could ask students to present their posters to the rest of the class so that their peers get an idea of what their home country is like. It could also bring about some intriguing conversations about what really are the most iconic English exports: some students might pick a red double decker bus as the most famous transport method in England, while others might pick the Tube.

This is also a really adaptable idea: you could put students in pairs or small groups based on their home countries and get them to create the poster together, or they could do it alone as homework or as an on-going project to be presented at the end of term. Finally, instead of making posters, they could use PowerPoints and share with the class, or, to embrace modern technology, you could point them in the direction of some infographic software such as and let them create a fun, vibrant infographic online. And of course, if you’re using Culture World  within your Macmillan English Campus platform, your students can explore some of these areas for a bit inspiration!


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