Stanford University

Search form

  • Find Stories
  • For Journalists

Image credit: Getty Images

The power of language: How words shape people, culture

Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. Studying how people use language – what words and phrases they unconsciously choose and combine – can help us better understand ourselves and why we behave the way we do.

Linguistics scholars seek to determine what is unique and universal about the language we use, how it is acquired and the ways it changes over time. They consider language as a cultural, social and psychological phenomenon.

“Understanding why and how languages differ tells about the range of what is human,” said Dan Jurafsky , the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities and chair of the Department of Linguistics in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford . “Discovering what’s universal about languages can help us understand the core of our humanity.”

The stories below represent some of the ways linguists have investigated many aspects of language, including its semantics and syntax, phonetics and phonology, and its social, psychological and computational aspects.

Understanding stereotypes

Stanford linguists and psychologists study how language is interpreted by people. Even the slightest differences in language use can correspond with biased beliefs of the speakers, according to research.

One study showed that a relatively harmless sentence, such as “girls are as good as boys at math,” can subtly perpetuate sexist stereotypes. Because of the statement’s grammatical structure, it implies that being good at math is more common or natural for boys than girls, the researchers said.

Language can play a big role in how we and others perceive the world, and linguists work to discover what words and phrases can influence us, unknowingly.

Girl solving math problem

How well-meaning statements can spread stereotypes unintentionally

New Stanford research shows that sentences that frame one gender as the standard for the other can unintentionally perpetuate biases.

Human silhouette

Algorithms reveal changes in stereotypes

New Stanford research shows that, over the past century, linguistic changes in gender and ethnic stereotypes correlated with major social movements and demographic changes in the U.S. Census data.

Katherine Hilton

Exploring what an interruption is in conversation

Stanford doctoral candidate Katherine Hilton found that people perceive interruptions in conversation differently, and those perceptions differ depending on the listener’s own conversational style as well as gender.

Policeman with body-worn videocamera (body-cam)

Cops speak less respectfully to black community members

Professors Jennifer Eberhardt and Dan Jurafsky, along with other Stanford researchers, detected racial disparities in police officers’ speech after analyzing more than 100 hours of body camera footage from Oakland Police.

How other languages inform our own

People speak roughly 7,000 languages worldwide. Although there is a lot in common among languages, each one is unique, both in its structure and in the way it reflects the culture of the people who speak it.

Jurafsky said it’s important to study languages other than our own and how they develop over time because it can help scholars understand what lies at the foundation of humans’ unique way of communicating with one another.

“All this research can help us discover what it means to be human,” Jurafsky said.

culture of speech

Stanford PhD student documents indigenous language of Papua New Guinea

Fifth-year PhD student Kate Lindsey recently returned to the United States after a year of documenting an obscure language indigenous to the South Pacific nation.

dice marked with letters of the alphabet

Students explore Esperanto across Europe

In a research project spanning eight countries, two Stanford students search for Esperanto, a constructed language, against the backdrop of European populism.

culture of speech

Chris Manning: How computers are learning to understand language​

A computer scientist discusses the evolution of computational linguistics and where it’s headed next.

Map showing frequency of the use of the Spanish pronoun 'vos' as opposed to 'tú' in Latin America

Stanford research explores novel perspectives on the evolution of Spanish

Using digital tools and literature to explore the evolution of the Spanish language, Stanford researcher Cuauhtémoc García-García reveals a new historical perspective on linguistic changes in Latin America and Spain.

Language as a lens into behavior

Linguists analyze how certain speech patterns correspond to particular behaviors, including how language can impact people’s buying decisions or influence their social media use.

For example, in one research paper, a group of Stanford researchers examined the differences in how Republicans and Democrats express themselves online to better understand how a polarization of beliefs can occur on social media.

“We live in a very polarized time,” Jurafsky said. “Understanding what different groups of people say and why is the first step in determining how we can help bring people together.”

culture of speech

Analyzing the tweets of Republicans and Democrats

New research by Dora Demszky and colleagues examined how Republicans and Democrats express themselves online in an attempt to understand how polarization of beliefs occurs on social media.

Examining bilingual behavior of children at Texas preschool

A Stanford senior studied a group of bilingual children at a Spanish immersion preschool in Texas to understand how they distinguished between their two languages.

Linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky in his office

Predicting sales of online products from advertising language

Stanford linguist Dan Jurafsky and colleagues have found that products in Japan sell better if their advertising includes polite language and words that invoke cultural traditions or authority.

culture of speech

Language can help the elderly cope with the challenges of aging, says Stanford professor

By examining conversations of elderly Japanese women, linguist Yoshiko Matsumoto uncovers language techniques that help people move past traumatic events and regain a sense of normalcy.

6.3 Language, Community, and Culture

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the role of culture in the acquisition of language.
  • Describe how language can form the foundation of sociocultural groups in speech communities.
  • Describe how people code-switch among speech communities.

While language is critical to individual human thought, its basic function is to communicate messages in human communities. That is, language is fundamentally social. Through social interaction, humans learn the language of their community. And through language, humans express community identity and coordinate their activities.

Language Acquisition and Language Socialization

Imagine that someone handed you a babbling baby and said to you, “Teach this baby the basic rules and values of our culture.” What would you do?

Likely, you’d start by teaching the baby your language. Without language, it’s pretty hard to teach rules and values (unless you are a really good mime). Luckily, babies come into the world with special cognitive abilities that make them ready to learn language. Most babies undergo a rapid process of language learning between the ages of nine months and three years. Babies proceed through a set of stages that allow them to learn language just by being exposed to surrounding talk. Many scholars study the problem of language acquisition , examining precisely how humans manage to learn language in a diversity of sociocultural contexts.

So your babbling baby would probably learn language just by being exposed to it. But what if someone wanted to hasten the process or make sure their baby was particularly excellent with language?

An American would probably interact with the baby in a particular way, sitting the baby on their lap facing them, pointing to objects and asking basic questions in a quiz-like fashion. “See the cookie? Where did the cookie go? In my tummy!” The person might say these types of things while talking in a high-pitched, sing-song voice. Linguists call this type of talk “motherese.” In many other cultures, caregivers do not interact with babies in this way. In some cultures, oversimplified “baby talk” is considered detrimental to language learning. The context of language learning might involve a whole host of characters beyond the baby and the caregiver, encompassing all household relatives, neighbors, visitors, and even strangers. Language is not always “taught” to babies, but is often witnessed and overheard. Rather than quizzing her baby American style, a mother in Kaluli society in Papua New Guinea is more likely to sit her baby on her lap facing outward, talking “for” the baby in conversations with siblings (Ochs and Schieffelin [1984] 2001). In West Africa, babies spend large parts of the day wrapped on the backs of their mothers where face-to-face interaction with her is impossible. But they overhear the talk around them all day long, and people frequently engage their attention in brief interactions. In the field of language socialization , researchers go beyond the various stages of language learning to focus on the social contexts in which language is acquired. As social contexts shape the way children learn language, language itself becomes a means of learning about sociocultural life.

Whether facing their caregivers or facing out to the social world around them, babies in all cultures learn to be proficient in their languages. And yet, in American culture, the notion persists that language proficiency relies on very precise forms of interaction between caregiver and baby, the American model of motherese. Every culture has specific ideas about language, how it is acquired, how it varies across social groups, how it changes over time, etc. These ideas are termed language ideologies . Some of these ideas, like the notion that babies have a special “window” of opportunity for learning language, are supported by linguistic research. Others, however, are challenged by ethnographic and cross-cultural research.

Speech Communities and Code Switching

A ten-year-old girl described one of her stuffed animals as “derpy.” Here is a snippet of her conversation with her mother:

Thisbe: Look at his face. He’s so derpy. Jennifer: Derpy? I don’t know that word. What does it mean? Thisbe: Like, kind of stupid. Kind of dumb. Jennifer: Oh, ok. Like Clover [our dog], when she fell off the couch. Was that derpy? Thisbe: No, that’s not derpy! It’s like ... Mom, I just can’t explain it to you. You just have to know.

All speakers of a particular language form a hypothetical community, sharing a common grammar and vocabulary, as well as a set of understandings about how language is used in different situations. Within this large group are smaller groups of speakers who use the common language in special ways unique to that group. Anthropologists use the term speech community to describe such a group (Muehlmann 2014). Speech communities often have distinctive vocabularies, grammatical forms, and intonation patterns. Using these features appropriately, members of the speech community demonstrate their membership in the group.

The concept of speech community was originally used to describe the distribution of dialects in a language. A dialect is a form of language specific to a particular region. For instance, in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, it’s common for local people to pronounce the word “water” as “woohder,” as if it nearly rhymes with the word “order.” It’s also common to use the phrase “yooz” for the second-person plural (as in, “Yooz better drink some woohder!”). Linguists William Labov , Sharon Ash , and Charles Boberg famously mapped out these dialectical differences in different regions of the United States (2006). Over time, a dialect can accumulate such unique linguistic features that it develops into a separate language. Indeed, the distinction between a well-developed dialect and a language is largely political. Nation-states may downplay regional differences as mere dialects in order to maintain linguistic unity, while separatist political movements may champion their way of speaking as an entirely different language in order to justify their demands for independence.

Other researchers have focused on the speech communities of ethnic groups and immigrants. Researchers use the term vernacular to describe dialects that are not necessarily regional but associated with specific social categories, such as groups based on ethnicity, age, or gender. Anthropological research on African American Vernacular English (AAE), Chicano English, and Native American English have all shown how these vernaculars shape distinctive forms of storytelling, arguing, and criticism (Chun and Lo 2015). Rather than seeing ethnic vernaculars as “incorrect” forms of English, researchers demonstrate how vernaculars like AAE are highly structured linguistic systems with regular grammatical patterns and innovative vocabularies (Labov 1972a). In formal settings like American classrooms and courtrooms, these alternative ways of using English are too often stigmatized as lazy, unintelligent, or just plain wrong. Believing their own English to be the “correct” form, authority figures often forbid the use of alternative vernaculars of English and refuse to engage in any effort to understand those forms.

More recent research on vernaculars has explored how speakers maneuver among the styles of language they encounter in their daily lives, engaging in various languages, dialects, vernaculars, and other elements of style. We all use a variety of linguistic styles, and many speak more than one language. Addressing different audiences, U.S. President Barack Obama used linguistic strategies to “Whiten,” “Blacken,” “Americanize,” and “Christianize” his public identity, thus subverting racial stereotypes and indicating his membership in a diversity of communities (Alim and Smitherman 2012). In parts of the world that were previously colonized by Europeans, European languages have been maintained as the formal language of government and education even as most people speak local languages in their everyday interactions with kin, neighbors, merchants, and other community members. In these postcolonial contexts, people tack back and forth between various styles of their local languages as well as shifting between the local language and the European one. Such strategic maneuvering among linguistic styles, called code-switching , is done by people in many difference contexts.

For many people, the style of language spoken in elite settings such as schools and government institutions has the effect of disempowering and marginalizing them. Linguistic anthropologists examine how vernaculars associated with elite and professional groups become a means of in-group solidarity and out-group exclusion. Anthropologist and lawyer Elizabeth Mertz (2007) conducted participant observation in first-year classes at several American law schools, looking at how law students are taught to “think like a lawyer.” Using a version of the Socratic method, law professors teach their students to set aside the moral and emotional elements of cases to view them purely as texts subject to abstract, professional analysis. The ability to master the linguistic maneuvering and arcane vocabulary of this form of analysis becomes a prerequisite for becoming a lawyer. The American justice system is thus dominated by people who are trained to set aside humanistic concerns in favor of textual authority and manipulation. Mertz’s study shows how people are socialized by language throughout their lives, not just in childhood. And it alerts us to the way that language can be used to elevate the learned perspectives of elites, dismissing the moral and emotional perspectives of others.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Access for free at
  • Authors: Jennifer Hasty, David G. Lewis, Marjorie M. Snipes
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Introduction to Anthropology
  • Publication date: Feb 23, 2022
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Book URL:
  • Section URL:

© Dec 20, 2023 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.

  • Speaking Internationally →

Understanding Cultural Differences in Public Speaking

Cultural Differences in Public Speaking

Ever felt lost in translation while delivering a speech to an international audience? This happens when we overlook the role of cultural nuances in public speaking. From body language, gestures to addressing local beliefs, understanding these can unveil new dimensions in your communication style and make you more relatable.

Get ready as we delve into effective strategies that transform your speeches from monologues into engaging conversations! Let’s embark on this journey together!

Key Takeaways

  • Cultural differences in public speaking impact communication styles , nonverbal cues, and values/beliefs, requiring speakers to adapt their approach for effective engagement.
  • Understanding diverse cultural communication styles is crucial for avoiding confusion or offense and building connections with international audiences .
  • Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions vary among cultures and must be interpreted within specific cultural contexts for successful cross-cultural communication.
  • Cultural values and beliefs significantly influence public speaking, shaping language use, nonverbal cues, tonal variations, and body language. Ignoring these differences can result in miscommunication or unintentional offense.
  • Common cultural misunderstandings can hinder effective public speaking by impacting emotional expression, conflict resolution approaches, or personal information sharing. Speakers should be aware of these potential challenges to connect with their audience successfully.
  • Strategies for adapting to cultural differences include developing cultural sensitivity skills, overcoming language barriers through translation services, and respecting cultural norms/taboo topics during speech preparation.
  • Researching the cultural context of a foreign country helps speakers tailor their messages to resonate with diverse audiences while adapting to local customs/traditions. This enhances rapport building and avoids unintended misunderstandings or offense during presentations.

Importance of Understanding Cultural Differences in Public Speaking

Understanding cultural differences in public speaking is essential for effective communication and audience engagement. Cultural communication styles, nonverbal cues, values, and beliefs can greatly impact how a message is received, making it crucial to adapt and tailor one’s approach accordingly.

Cultural communication styles and their impact

Diving into the world of public speaking, it’s a given that your audience won’t always share the same cultural background as you. This makes understanding different cultural communication styles an invaluable asset in your toolkit.

Why so? Let’s get into it. Cultural differences wield notable influence on how people communicate — from the tone and volume to the speed of speech; all these factors are shaped by culture.

In a multicultural environment, this can either make or break your presentation. Misjudging a listener’s cultural communication style means risking confusing or even offending them, thereby creating barriers rather than bridges between you and your audience.

On the flip side, being able to navigate these diverse communication styles allows for more effective engagement with international business partners or at global conferences, further solidifying your position as an inexorable force in public speaking.

So whether it’s mastering social norms or grappling with language nuances, successful adaptation to various cultural communication styles paves the way for engaging speeches and lively discussions across borders.

Nonverbal communication in different cultures

Cracking the code of nonverbal communication across different cultures is crucial for public speakers. It’s not just about what you say, but how your body broadcasts unspoken signals that can either amplify your message or generate a cultural faux pas.

Across different societies worldwide, people interpret actions in social situations differently, making nonverbal cues fundamental components of intercultural communication.

Eye contact and gestures are two aspects of body language that vary significantly among cultures. In some places, steady eye contact indicates trustworthiness and openness while in others it may be seen as aggression or disrespect.

Understanding the significance behind these variations could mean the difference between sealing a deal or causing unintended offense during a presentation.

Facial expressions too, often regarded as universal forms of communication, can stir up confusion if not appropriately interpreted within cultural contexts. A smile might convey warmth and friendliness to one group but might signify embarrassment to another.

Good public speaking isn’t just mastering speech; it involves becoming fluent in the language of nonverbal cues around us—a recipe for successful cross-cultural communication! So next time you step on an international stage with your well-practiced speech remember – it’s not all about words; Interpreting and delivering effective nonverbal cues rooted deeply in cultural norms is equally integral.

Cultural values and beliefs and their impact

Diving into the rich tapestry of cultural values and beliefs illuminates their significant impact on public speaking. Culture is like an invisible hand, subtly guiding our communication styles.

It shapes not just language but also nonverbal cues, tonal variations, body language, and so much more. For example, in some cultures maintaining eye contact while delivering a speech denotes trust and confidence while in others it’s seen as disrespectful or aggressive.

Ignoring this aspect can lead to unintended miscommunication or even offend your audience unintentionally. As speakers venturing across diverse cultures – understanding these differences is essential because what might be persuasive in one culture could fall flat in another due to contrasting cultural norms and beliefs.

Furthermore, deep knowledge about the audience’s values results in speeches that are sincere and respectful – two key elements of ethical communication that resonate with multicultural audiences globally.

Cultural intelligence amplifies your competence as a speaker by fostering genuine connections based on crosscultural understanding – making every word count for you and your listeners.

Common cultural misunderstandings

Cultural misunderstandings can be a significant barrier in public speaking, affecting both the speaker and the audience. These misunderstandings often arise from differences in expressing emotions, conflicts, or personal information.

For example, what may be considered appropriate humor in one culture might be seen as offensive in another. Likewise, the level of directness or indirectness in communication varies among cultures and can impact how messages are received.

Understanding these common cultural misunderstandings is crucial for public speakers to effectively connect with their audience and avoid unintended negative reactions during presentations.

Strategies for Adapting to Cultural Differences in Public Speaking

Cultural sensitivity.

Cultural sensitivity is a crucial skill for public speakers when it comes to understanding and managing cultural differences. It involves recognizing and appreciating the diverse backgrounds and experiences of individuals, promoting empathy and understanding.

Cultural sensitivity goes beyond surface-level observations, requiring an effort to understand hidden aspects of culture. It’s important not to assign values or judgments to cultural differences but instead recognize them as equally valid.

By developing skills in cultural sensitivity, public speakers can improve their cross-cultural communication and effectively connect with diverse audiences from different backgrounds. As our society becomes increasingly diverse, fostering cultural competence, sensitivity, and awareness is essential for creating inclusive spaces where every voice is heard.

Language barriers

Language barriers are a significant challenge when it comes to public speaking, especially in an international context. Speaking different languages can often lead to misunderstandings and gaps in communication, making it difficult to effectively convey your message.

This is particularly crucial for public speakers who want to connect with diverse audiences around the world. Translation services can be a valuable resource in overcoming language barriers, allowing you to bridge the gap and ensure that your message is understood by everyone.

By addressing language barriers head-on, you can enhance the quality and safety of communication during public speaking engagements while promoting collaboration and understanding among individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

Cultural norms and taboos

Understanding cultural norms and taboos is vital for public speakers when navigating different cultural contexts. Different cultures have their own set of expectations regarding appropriate behavior, language usage, and topics that are considered taboo.

It is important to be aware of these cultural nuances to avoid unintentionally offending or alienating your audience.

For example, what may be acceptable humor in one culture could be seen as disrespectful or offensive in another. Similarly, certain gestures or body language that convey a positive message in one culture might have negative connotations in another.

Being mindful of these differences allows you to adapt your communication style accordingly and ensure effective cross-cultural interaction.

In addition, understanding the cultural norms and taboos associated with public speaking can also help you tailor your content appropriately. By recognizing which topics are sensitive within a particular culture, you can avoid potential misunderstandings or controversies during your speech.

Research and Preparation for Public Speaking in a Foreign Country

Researching and preparing for public speaking in a foreign country involves understanding the cultural context, adapting to local customs and traditions, and ensuring language proficiency.

Understanding the cultural context

In today’s interconnected world, public speakers often find themselves addressing diverse audiences from various cultural backgrounds. To effectively connect with these audiences, it is crucial to understand the cultural context in which they operate.

This means recognizing and appreciating the beliefs, customs, values, and behaviors that shape their communication styles.

By understanding the cultural context, public speakers can adapt their messages to resonate with different cultures. For example, knowing that some cultures value indirect communication while others prefer directness can help speakers tailor their language and tone accordingly.

Additionally, being aware of nonverbal cues such as gestures or personal space preferences can ensure effective communication across cultures.

Researching and preparing for public speaking engagements in foreign countries also requires an understanding of the cultural context. Learning about local customs and traditions helps speakers navigate potential pitfalls or avoid unintentionally offending their audience.

Moreover, having a basic knowledge of the local language shows respect and enhances rapport building.

Adapting to local customs and traditions

Understanding and adapting to local customs and traditions is crucial for public speakers when delivering presentations in foreign countries. Every culture has its own set of norms, values, and practices that shape communication styles and expectations.

By familiarizing themselves with these cultural nuances, speakers can ensure that their message resonates with the audience and avoids any unintended misunderstandings or offense.

Researching the customs and traditions of a specific culture allows speakers to tailor their approach accordingly. For example, knowing whether it is appropriate to address elders first or observe certain gestures of respect can significantly impact how they are perceived by the audience.

Moreover, understanding local customs helps avoid taboos or sensitive topics that may inadvertently offend attendees.

Adapting to local customs also demonstrates respect for the host country’s culture, fostering a positive connection with the audience. It shows an appreciation for diversity and creates an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and understood.

Language proficiency

Having strong language proficiency is essential when it comes to public speaking, especially in a foreign country. Being able to communicate effectively and confidently in the local language can greatly enhance your ability to connect with the audience and convey your message.

Not only does it show respect for the culture and its people, but it also demonstrates your dedication to understanding and embracing diversity. Moreover, having proficiency in different languages improves attitudes towards those who are different from us and allows for greater empathy towards cultural values.

So, whether you’re striving for distinguished English speaking skills or working on mastering another language altogether, investing time in developing your language proficiency will undoubtedly benefit you as a public speaker navigating cultural differences.

In conclusion, understanding and adapting to cultural differences in public speaking is essential for effective communication. By being culturally sensitive and aware, speakers can connect with their diverse audience on a deeper level, avoid misunderstandings, and deliver impactful speeches.

So embrace cultural diversity and enhance your public speaking skills to engage with people from different backgrounds successfully!

1. How do cultural differences impact public speaking?

Cultural differences can impact public speaking in various ways, including communication style, body language, and audience expectations. Different cultures may have different norms for eye contact, gestures, and vocal tone, which can influence how a speaker is perceived and understood.

2. What are some common challenges when speaking to an international audience?

When speaking to an international audience, common challenges may include language barriers, varying levels of English proficiency among listeners, differing cultural beliefs and values that shape understanding and interpretation of messages, as well as potential miscommunications or misunderstandings due to unfamiliarity with certain sayings or idioms.

3. How can speakers adapt their presentations for different cultures?

Speakers can adapt their presentations for different cultures by researching the target culture’s communication styles and preferences beforehand. This includes understanding appropriate use of nonverbal cues, using relatable examples that resonate with the specific cultural context while avoiding potentially sensitive topics or offensive content.

4. What strategies can help improve cross-cultural communication during public speaking?

To improve cross-cultural communication during public speaking engagements, it is important to be mindful of cultural diversity within the audience. Speakers should strive for clarity in speech delivery by enunciating words clearly and avoid using jargon or technical terms that might not be easily understood outside of one’s own culture. Additionally addressing questions from the audience respectfully helps create a more inclusive environment where all participants feel valued regardless of their background knowledge on given topic being discussed

Jonathan Wai Ph.D.

Cross-Cultural Psychology

The importance of free speech culture, an interview with the co-author of the canceling of the american mind..

Posted November 30, 2023 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch

In their new book The Canceling of the American Mind , Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott provide countless examples of people who have been canceled across the political spectrum—from the left, the right, and everywhere in between. Following is an interview with Schlott, who argues for the importance of free-speech culture and suggests how higher education and broader society might better support it.

Jonathan Wai: What is “free speech culture” and why is it important?

Rikki Schlott : Free speech culture is the antidote to cancel culture. But before I define that for you, let’s first get to the heart of what cancel culture is.

We define cancel culture as the uptick beginning around 2014, and accelerating in 2017 and after, of campaigns to get people fired, disinvited, deplatformed, or otherwise punished for speech that is—or would be—protected by First Amendment standards, and the climate of fear and conformity that has resulted from this uptick.

We argue that the roots of cancel culture can be traced back to academia over several decades but that social media and a general cultural alienation from free speech values allowed it to explode in roughly the past decade.

Surveys show roughly 4 in 5 Americans think cancel culture is a problem. They’re right. We believe the only way to fight back against cancel culture is to re-embrace a free speech culture. For older Americans, this isn’t a new idea. For many younger Americans, sadly, some of the fundamental values that have underpinned American society are alien.

A free speech culture is a set of cultural norms rooted in older democratic values. Buying into a free speech culture requires a recommitment to old idioms like “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” “To each their own,” “It’s a free country,” and “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” As cliche as they may sound, we think our society has lost sight of these values.

And, if we might, we’d like to add another few idioms that we believe an anti-cancel-culture-culture must adopt: “Always take seriously the possibility you might be wrong,” “It’s important to know what people really think,” and “Just because you hate someone doesn't mean they’re wrong.”

JW: In your book, you illustrate multiple examples of “cancellations” of people who are politically on the right, the left, and all across the spectrum. What is going on?

RS: Our book is littered with case studies of cancel culture in all crevices of society—from higher education to journalism to the literary world to scientific fields and even comedy.

Those who say cancel culture isn’t happening are simply ignoring the endless list of people who have been unceremoniously torn down for something they said or did. My co-author is the president and CEO of FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression), which defends the free speech rights of students and professors on campuses, so we had unprecedented access to a treasure trove of data about cancellations in academia.

The numbers are truly frightening. From just 2014 to 2023, we’ve tallied more than 1,000 attempts to get professors fired, punished, or silenced for their speech. And two-thirds of them are punished in some way. To give you a sense of just how unprecedented that is in the scheme of American history, it’s estimated that 100 to 150 professors lost their jobs during the Red Scare from 1947 to 1957. That’s a moment we rightfully look back upon and condemn. In the last decade, we’ve seen 200 professor terminations. Historians will one day study what exactly happened on campuses in the beginning of the 21st century.

And you’re right. It might surprise some readers to find out that around a third of the attempts to get professors fired actually come from the political right. Cancel culture isn’t a right-versus-left issue. It is a liberal-versus-illiberal one.


JW: What are some ideas to help reform higher education to support free speech culture?

RS: As you can probably tell by now, Greg and I share a passion for protecting free speech in the culture more broadly—but especially on college campuses where we’ve seen firsthand just how dire the situation is.

The third portion of the book is dedicated to presenting solutions on how we get ourselves out of this mess. We have chapters on how to raise kids who aren’t cancellers, keeping your corporation out of the culture war, fixing K-12 education, and reforming higher ed itself.

Honestly, we’re pretty radical. We think the situation is so urgent that we should be entertaining solutions and alternatives that upend the current system.

Working within the framework of our current institutions, we think a few low-hanging solutions include adopting viewpoint neutrality as an institution, banning DEI statements and political litmus tests in the hiring process, and installing an academic freedom ombudsman.

culture of speech

Also, the past couple months have demonstrated just how much power donors (many of whom are alumni) have to demand change. We suggest that anyone who gives to their alma mater tie their checks to demands that the school adopts a written official commitment to free speech and commits to defending students and professors under siege.

Zooming out, we also are excitedly following the creation of new institutions like the University of Austin.

We also think employers should rethink college degree requirements where possible. Colleges and universities are drunk on their power as the gatekeepers to success. We can fight back and demand better of them by opening our minds to non-graduates in the hiring process, too.

Jonathan Wai Ph.D.

Jonathan Wai, Ph.D. , is Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Psychology and the 21st Century Endowed Chair in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas.

  • Find a Therapist
  • Find a Treatment Center
  • Find a Psychiatrist
  • Find a Support Group
  • Find Teletherapy
  • United States
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Asperger's
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Chronic Pain
  • Eating Disorders
  • Passive Aggression
  • Personality
  • Goal Setting
  • Positive Psychology
  • Stopping Smoking
  • Low Sexual Desire
  • Relationships
  • Child Development
  • Therapy Center NEW
  • Diagnosis Dictionary
  • Types of Therapy

March 2024 magazine cover

Understanding what emotional intelligence looks like and the steps needed to improve it could light a path to a more emotionally adept world.

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019
  • Affective Forecasting
  • Neuroscience
  • Architecture and Design
  • Asian and Pacific Studies
  • Business and Economics
  • Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
  • Computer Sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • Engineering
  • General Interest
  • Geosciences
  • Industrial Chemistry
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Library and Information Science, Book Studies
  • Life Sciences
  • Linguistics and Semiotics
  • Literary Studies
  • Materials Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Social Sciences
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Theology and Religion
  • Publish your article
  • The role of authors
  • Promoting your article
  • Abstracting & indexing
  • Publishing Ethics
  • Why publish with De Gruyter
  • How to publish with De Gruyter
  • Our book series
  • Our subject areas
  • Your digital product at De Gruyter
  • Contribute to our reference works
  • Product information
  • Tools & resources
  • Product Information
  • Promotional Materials
  • Orders and Inquiries
  • FAQ for Library Suppliers and Book Sellers
  • Repository Policy
  • Free access policy
  • Open Access agreements
  • Database portals
  • For Authors
  • Customer service
  • People + Culture
  • Journal Management
  • How to join us
  • Working at De Gruyter
  • Mission & Vision
  • De Gruyter Foundation
  • De Gruyter Ebound
  • Our Responsibility
  • Partner publishers

culture of speech

Your purchase has been completed. Your documents are now available to view.

book: Speech Acts Across Cultures

Speech Acts Across Cultures

Challenges to communication in a second language.

  • Edited by: Susan Gass and Joyce Neu

Please login or register with De Gruyter to order this product.

  • Language: English
  • Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
  • Copyright year: 2006
  • Audience: Institutions, Libraries, Academics
  • Front matter: 6
  • Main content: 350
  • Keywords: Speech act theory
  • Published: September 24, 2009
  • ISBN: 9783110219289
  • Published: December 14, 1995
  • ISBN: 9783110140828
  • Published: November 16, 2006
  • ISBN: 9783110191257

Read our research on: TikTok | Podcasts | Election 2024

Regions & Countries

How americans feel about ‘cancel culture’ and offensive speech in 6 charts.

An illustration of a computer screen with a cursor hovering over a button marked "cancel."

Americans have long debated the boundaries of free speech, from what is and isn’t protected by the First Amendment to discussions about “political correctness” and, more recently, “cancel culture.” The internet has amplified these debates and fostered new questions about tone and tenor in recent years. Here’s a look at how adults in the United States see these and related issues, based on Pew Research Center surveys.

This Pew Research Center analysis looks at how Americans view the tenor of discourse, both online and off. The findings used here come from three surveys the Center conducted in fall 2020. Sample sizes, field dates and methodological information for each survey are accessible through the links in this analysis.

In a September 2020 survey, 44% of Americans said they’d heard at least a fair amount about the phrase “cancel culture,” including 22% who had heard a great deal about it. A majority of Americans (56%) said they’d heard nothing or not too much about it, including 38% – the largest share – who had heard nothing at all about the phrase.

A chart showing that in September 2020, 44% of Americans had heard at least a fair amount about the phrase ‘cancel culture’

Familiarity with the term cancel culture varied by age, gender and education level, but not political party affiliation, according to the same survey.

Younger adults were more likely to have heard about cancel culture than their older counterparts. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of adults under 30 said they’d heard a great deal or fair amount about cancel culture, compared with 46% of those ages 30 to 49 and 34% of those 50 and older.

Men were more likely than women to be familiar with the phrase, as were those who have a bachelor’s or advanced degree when compared with those who have lower levels of formal education.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were about as likely as Republicans and GOP leaners to say they had heard at least a fair amount about cancel culture (46% vs. 44%). But there were more pronounced differences within each party when taking ideology into account. About six-in-ten liberal Democrats (59%) said they had heard at least a fair amount about cancel culture, compared with roughly a third of conservative and moderate Democrats (34%). Similarly, around half of conservative Republicans (49%) had heard of the term, compared with around a third of moderate and liberal Republicans (36%).

Americans were most likely to mention accountability when describing what the phrase cancel culture means to them. As part of the fall 2020 survey, the Center asked U.S. adults who had heard a fair amount or a great deal about the term to explain in their own words what it meant to them. Around half (49%) said it describes actions people take to hold others accountable.

A chart showing that conservative Republicans are less likely than other partisan, ideological groups to describe ‘cancel culture’ as actions taken to hold others accountable

Smaller shares described cancel culture as a form of censorship – such as a restriction on free speech or as history being erased – or as mean-spirited attacks used to cause others harm (14% and 12%, respectively).

About a third of conservative Republicans who had heard of the phrase (36%) described it as actions taken to hold people accountable, compared with roughly half or more of moderate or liberal Republicans (51%), conservative or moderate Democrats (54%) and liberal Democrats (59%).

Conservative Republicans who had heard of the term were also more likely to see cancel culture as a form of censorship: 26% described it as censorship, compared with 15% of moderate or liberal Republicans and roughly one-in-ten or fewer Democrats, regardless of ideology.

A chart showing that partisans differ over whether calling out others on social media for potentially offensive content represents accountability or punishment

In the September 2020 survey, Americans said they believed calling out others on social media is more likely to hold people accountable than punish people who don’t deserve it. Overall, 58% of adults said that in general, when people publicly call others out on social media for posting content that might be considered offensive, they are more likely to hold people accountable . In comparison, 38% said this kind of action is more likely to punish people who don’t deserve it.

Views on this question differed sharply by political party. Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to say that this type of action holds people accountable (75% vs. 39%). In contrast, 56% of Republicans – but just 22% of Democrats – said this generally punishes people who don’t deserve it.

In a separate report using data from the same September 2020 survey, 55% of Americans said many people take offensive content they see online too seriously , while a smaller share (42%) said offensive content online is too often excused as not a big deal.

A chart showing that Democrats, Republicans are increasingly divided on whether offensive content online is taken too seriously, as well as the balance between free speech, feeling safe online

Americans’ attitudes again differed widely by political party. Roughly six-in-ten Democrats (59%) said offensive content online is too often excused as not a big deal, while just a quarter of Republicans agreed – a 34 percentage point gap. And while 72% of Republicans said many people take offensive content they see online too seriously, about four-in-ten Democrats (39%) said the same.

A bar chart showing that Germans slightly favor being careful to avoid offense; in other publics, more say people are too easily offended

In a four-country survey conducted in the fall of 2020, Americans were the most likely to say that people today are too easily offended . A majority of Americans (57%) said people today are too easily offended by what others say, while four-in-ten said people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others, according to the survey of adults in the U.S., Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

In contrast, respondents in the three European countries surveyed were more closely divided over whether people today are too easily offended or whether people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others.

A chart showing that the ideological left is more concerned with avoiding offense with what they say

Opinions on this topic were connected to ideological leanings in three of the four countries surveyed, with the largest gap among U.S. adults. Around two-thirds of Americans on the ideological left (65%) said people should be careful to avoid offending others, compared with about one-in-four on the ideological right – a gap of 42 percentage points. The left-right difference was 17 points in the UK and 15 points in Germany. There was no significant difference between the left and the right in France.

In the U.S., the ideological divide was closely related to political party affiliation: Six-in-ten Democrats said people should be careful what they say to avoid offending others, while only 17% of Republicans said the same.

culture of speech

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivered Saturday mornings

Republicans continue to see a national political climate more comfortable for Democrats than for GOP

Republicans and democrats alike say it’s stressful to talk politics with people who disagree, 55% of u.s. social media users say they are ‘worn out’ by political posts and discussions, a sore subject: almost half of americans have stopped talking politics with someone, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .


6.4 Intercultural Communication

A man smiling and talking to a woman at an OSU event

“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.” -Unknown

It is through intercultural communication that we come to create, understand, and transform culture and identity. Intercultural communication is communication between people with differing cultural identities. One reason we should study intercultural communication is to foster greater self-awareness (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). Our thought process regarding culture is often “other focused,” meaning that the culture of the other person or group is what stands out in our perception. However, the old adage “know thyself” is appropriate, as we become more aware of our own culture by better understanding other cultures and perspectives. Intercultural communication can allow us to step outside of our comfortable, usual frame of reference and see our culture through a different lens. Additionally, as we become more self-aware, we may also become more ethical communicators as we challenge our ethnocentrism , or our tendency to view our own culture as superior to other cultures.

Difference matters, and studying intercultural communication can help us better negotiate our changing world. Changing economies and technologies intersect with culture in meaningful ways (Martin & Nakayama). As was noted earlier, technology has created for some a global village where vast distances are now much shorter due to new technology that make travel and communication more accessible and convenient (McLuhan, 1967). However, as the following “Getting Plugged In” box indicates, there is also a digital divide , which refers to the unequal access to technology and related skills that exists in much of the world. People in most fields will be more successful if they are prepared to work in a globalized world. Obviously, the global market sets up the need to have intercultural competence for employees who travel between locations of a multinational corporation. Perhaps less obvious may be the need for teachers to work with students who do not speak English as their first language and for police officers, lawyers, managers, and medical personnel to be able to work with people who have various cultural identities.

Intercultural Communication: A Dialectical Approach

Intercultural communication is complicated, messy, and at times contradictory. Therefore it is not always easy to conceptualize or study. Taking a dialectical approach allows us to capture the dynamism of intercultural communication. A dialectic is a relationship between two opposing concepts that constantly push and pull one another (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). To put it another way, thinking dialectically helps us realize that our experiences often occur in between two different phenomena. This perspective is especially useful for interpersonal and intercultural communication, because when we think dialectically, we think relationally. This means we look at the relationship between aspects of intercultural communication rather than viewing them in isolation. Intercultural communication occurs as a dynamic in-betweenness that, while connected to the individuals in an encounter, goes beyond the individuals, creating something unique. Holding a dialectical perspective may be challenging for some Westerners, as it asks us to hold two contradictory ideas simultaneously, which goes against much of what we are taught in our formal education. Thinking dialectically helps us see the complexity in culture and identity because it doesn’t allow for dichotomies. Dichotomies are dualistic ways of thinking that highlight opposites, reducing the ability to see gradations that exist in between concepts. Dichotomies such as good/evil, wrong/right, objective/subjective, male/female, in-group/out-group, black/white, and so on form the basis of much of our thoughts on ethics, culture, and general philosophy, but this isn’t the only way of thinking (Marin & Nakayama, 1999). Many Eastern cultures acknowledge that the world isn’t dualistic. Rather, they accept as part of their reality that things that seem opposite are actually interdependent and complement each other. I argue that a dialectical approach is useful in studying intercultural communication because it gets us out of our comfortable and familiar ways of thinking. Since so much of understanding culture and identity is understanding ourselves, having an unfamiliar lens through which to view culture can offer us insights that our familiar lenses will not. Specifically, we can better understand intercultural communication by examining six dialectics (see the graphic below) (Martin & Nakayama, 1999).

Cultural-Individual Dialectic

The cultural-individual dialectic captures the interplay between patterned behaviors learned from a cultural group and individual behaviors that may be variations on or counter to those of the larger culture. This dialectic is useful because it helps us account for exceptions to cultural norms. For example, earlier we learned that the United States is said to be a low-context culture, which means that we value verbal communication as our primary, meaning-rich form of communication. Conversely, Japan is said to be a high-context culture, which means they often look for nonverbal clues like tone, silence, or what is not said for meaning. However, you can find people in the United States who intentionally put much meaning into how they say things, perhaps because they are not as comfortable speaking directly what’s on their mind. We often do this in situations where we may hurt someone’s feelings or damage a relationship. Does that mean we come from a high-context culture? Does the Japanese man who speaks more than is socially acceptable come from a low-context culture? The answer to both questions is no. Neither the behaviors of a small percentage of individuals nor occasional situational choices constitute a cultural pattern.

Personal-Contextual Dialectic

The personal-contextual dialectic highlights the connection between our personal patterns of and preferences for communicating and how various contexts influence the personal. In some cases, our communication patterns and preferences will stay the same across many contexts. In other cases, a context shift may lead us to alter our communication and adapt. For example, an American businesswoman may prefer to communicate with her employees in an informal and laid-back manner. When she is promoted to manage a department in her company’s office in Malaysia, she may again prefer to communicate with her new Malaysian employees the same way she did with those in the United States. In the United States, we know that there are some accepted norms that communication in work contexts is more formal than in personal contexts. However, we also know that individual managers often adapt these expectations to suit their own personal tastes. This type of managerial discretion would likely not go over as well in Malaysia where there is a greater emphasis put on power distance (Hofstede, 1991). So while the American manager may not know to adapt to the new context unless she has a high degree of intercultural communication competence, Malaysian managers would realize that this is an instance where the context likely influences communication more than personal preferences.

Differences-Similarities Dialectic

The differences-similarities dialectic allows us to examine how we are simultaneously similar to and different from others. As was noted earlier, it’s easy to fall into a view of intercultural communication as “other oriented” and set up dichotomies between “us” and “them.” When we over-focus on differences, we can end up polarizing groups that actually have things in common. When we over-focus on similarities, we essentialize , or reduce/overlook important variations within a group. This tendency is evident in most of the popular, and some of the academic, conversations regarding “gender differences.” The book Men Are from Mars and Women Are from Venus makes it seem like men and women aren’t even species that hail from the same planet. The media is quick to include a blurb from a research study indicating again how men and women are “wired” to communicate differently. However, the overwhelming majority of current research on gender and communication finds that while there are differences between how men and women communicate, there are far more similarities (Allen, 2011). Even the language we use to describe the genders sets up dichotomies. That’s why I suggest that my students use the term other gender instead of the commonly used opposite sex . I have a mom, a sister, and plenty of female friends, and I don’t feel like any of them are the opposite of me. Perhaps a better title for a book would be Women and Men Are Both from Earth .

Static-Dynamic Dialectic

The static-dynamic dialectic suggests that culture and communication change over time yet often appear to be and are experienced as stable. Although it is true that our cultural beliefs and practices are rooted in the past, we have already discussed how cultural categories that most of us assume to be stable, like race and gender, have changed dramatically in just the past fifty years. Some cultural values remain relatively consistent over time, which allows us to make some generalizations about a culture. For example, cultures have different orientations to time. The Chinese have a longer-term orientation to time than do Europeans (Lustig & Koester, 2006). This is evidenced in something that dates back as far as astrology. The Chinese zodiac is done annually (The Year of the Monkey, etc.), while European astrology was organized by month (Taurus, etc.). While this cultural orientation to time has been around for generations, as China becomes more Westernized in terms of technology, business, and commerce, it could also adopt some views on time that are more short term.

History/Past-Present/Future Dialectic

The history/past-present/future dialectic reminds us to understand that while current cultural conditions are important and that our actions now will inevitably affect our future, those conditions are not without a history. We always view history through the lens of the present. Perhaps no example is more entrenched in our past and avoided in our present as the history of slavery in the United States. Where I grew up in the Southern United States, race was something that came up frequently. The high school I attended was 30 percent minorities (mostly African American) and also had a noticeable number of white teens (mostly male) who proudly displayed Confederate flags on their clothing or vehicles.

I remember an instance in a history class where we were discussing slavery and the subject of repatriation, or compensation for descendants of slaves, came up. A white male student in the class proclaimed, “I’ve never owned slaves. Why should I have to care about this now?” While his statement about not owning slaves is valid, it doesn’t acknowledge that effects of slavery still linger today and that the repercussions of such a long and unjust period of our history don’t disappear over the course of a few generations.

Privileges-Disadvantages Dialectic

The privileges-disadvantages dialectic captures the complex interrelation of unearned, systemic advantages and disadvantages that operate among our various identities. As was discussed earlier, our society consists of dominant and nondominant groups. Our cultures and identities have certain privileges and/or disadvantages. To understand this dialectic, we must view culture and identity through a lens of intersectionality , which asks us to acknowledge that we each have multiple cultures and identities that intersect with each other. Because our identities are complex, no one is completely privileged and no one is completely disadvantaged. For example, while we may think of a white, heterosexual male as being very privileged, he may also have a disability that leaves him without the able-bodied privilege that a Latina woman has. This is often a difficult dialectic for my students to understand, because they are quick to point out exceptions that they think challenge this notion. For example, many people like to point out Oprah Winfrey as a powerful African American woman. While she is definitely now quite privileged despite her disadvantaged identities, her trajectory isn’t the norm. When we view privilege and disadvantage at the cultural level, we cannot let individual exceptions distract from the systemic and institutionalized ways in which some people in our society are disadvantaged while others are privileged.

As these dialectics reiterate, culture and communication are complex systems that intersect with and diverge from many contexts. A better understanding of all these dialectics helps us be more critical thinkers and competent communicators in a changing world.

Video Clip 6.2

Veiled Woman Eyes French Presidency

<a class=”replaced-iframe” href=”” data-iframe-code=”


“>(click to see video)

Intercultural Communication and Relationships

Intercultural relationships are formed between people with different cultural identities and include friends, romantic partners, family, and coworkers. Intercultural relationships have benefits and drawbacks. Some of the benefits include increasing cultural knowledge, challenging previously held stereotypes, and learning new skills (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). For example, I learned about the Vietnamese New Year celebration Tet from a friend I made in graduate school. This same friend also taught me how to make some delicious Vietnamese foods that I continue to cook today. I likely would not have gained this cultural knowledge or skill without the benefits of my intercultural friendship. Intercultural relationships also present challenges, however.

The dialectics discussed earlier affect our intercultural relationships. The similarities-differences dialectic in particular may present challenges to relationship formation (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). While differences between people’s cultural identities may be obvious, it takes some effort to uncover commonalities that can form the basis of a relationship. Perceived differences in general also create anxiety and uncertainty that is not as present in intracultural relationships. Once some similarities are found, the tension within the dialectic begins to balance out and uncertainty and anxiety lessen. Negative stereotypes may also hinder progress toward relational development, especially if the individuals are not open to adjusting their preexisting beliefs. Intercultural relationships may also take more work to nurture and maintain. The benefit of increased cultural awareness is often achieved, because the relational partners explain their cultures to each other. This type of explaining requires time, effort, and patience and may be an extra burden that some are not willing to carry. Last, engaging in intercultural relationships can lead to questioning or even backlash from one’s own group. I experienced this type of backlash from my white classmates in middle school who teased me for hanging out with the African American kids on my bus. While these challenges range from mild inconveniences to more serious repercussions, they are important to be aware of. As noted earlier, intercultural relationships can take many forms. The focus of this section is on friendships and romantic relationships, but much of the following discussion can be extended to other relationship types.

Intercultural Friendships

Even within the United States, views of friendship vary based on cultural identities. Research on friendship has shown that Latinos/as value relational support and positive feedback, Asian Americans emphasize exchanges of ideas like offering feedback or asking for guidance, African Americans value respect and mutual acceptance, and European Americans value recognition of each other as individuals (Coller, 1996). Despite the differences in emphasis, research also shows that the overall definition of a close friend is similar across cultures. A close friend is thought of as someone who is helpful and nonjudgmental, who you enjoy spending time with but can also be independent, and who shares similar interests and personality traits (Lee, 2006).

Intercultural friendship formation may face challenges that other friendships do not. Prior intercultural experience and overcoming language barriers increase the likelihood of intercultural friendship formation (Sias et al., 2008). In some cases, previous intercultural experience, like studying abroad in college or living in a diverse place, may motivate someone to pursue intercultural friendships once they are no longer in that context. When friendships cross nationality, it may be necessary to invest more time in common understanding, due to language barriers. With sufficient motivation and language skills, communication exchanges through self-disclosure can then further relational formation. Research has shown that individuals from different countries in intercultural friendships differ in terms of the topics and depth of self-disclosure, but that as the friendship progresses, self-disclosure increases in depth and breadth (Chen & Nakazawa, 2009). Further, as people overcome initial challenges to initiating an intercultural friendship and move toward mutual self-disclosure, the relationship becomes more intimate, which helps friends work through and move beyond their cultural differences to focus on maintaining their relationship. In this sense, intercultural friendships can be just as strong and enduring as other friendships (Lee, 2006).

The potential for broadening one’s perspective and learning more about cultural identities is not always balanced, however. In some instances, members of a dominant culture may be more interested in sharing their culture with their intercultural friend than they are in learning about their friend’s culture, which illustrates how context and power influence friendships (Lee, 2006). A research study found a similar power dynamic, as European Americans in intercultural friendships stated they were open to exploring everyone’s culture but also communicated that culture wasn’t a big part of their intercultural friendships, as they just saw their friends as people. As the researcher states, “These types of responses may demonstrate that it is easiest for the group with the most socioeconomic and socio-cultural power to ignore the rules, assume they have the power as individuals to change the rules, or assume that no rules exist, since others are adapting to them rather than vice versa” (Collier, 1996). Again, intercultural friendships illustrate the complexity of culture and the importance of remaining mindful of your communication and the contexts in which it occurs.

Culture and Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships are influenced by society and culture, and still today some people face discrimination based on who they love. Specifically, sexual orientation and race affect societal views of romantic relationships. Although the United States, as a whole, is becoming more accepting of gay and lesbian relationships, there is still a climate of prejudice and discrimination that individuals in same-gender romantic relationships must face. Despite some physical and virtual meeting places for gay and lesbian people, there are challenges for meeting and starting romantic relationships that are not experienced for most heterosexual people (Peplau & Spalding, 2000).

As we’ve already discussed, romantic relationships are likely to begin due to merely being exposed to another person at work, through a friend, and so on. But some gay and lesbian people may feel pressured into or just feel more comfortable not disclosing or displaying their sexual orientation at work or perhaps even to some family and friends, which closes off important social networks through which most romantic relationships begin. This pressure to refrain from disclosing one’s gay or lesbian sexual orientation in the workplace is not unfounded, as it is still legal in twenty-nine states (as of November 2012) to fire someone for being gay or lesbian (Human Rights Campaign, 2012). There are also some challenges faced by gay and lesbian partners regarding relationship termination. Gay and lesbian couples do not have the same legal and societal resources to manage their relationships as heterosexual couples; for example, gay and lesbian relationships are not legally recognized in most states, it is more difficult for a gay or lesbian couple to jointly own property or share custody of children than heterosexual couples, and there is little public funding for relationship counseling or couples therapy for gay and lesbian couples.

While this lack of barriers may make it easier for gay and lesbian partners to break out of an unhappy or unhealthy relationship, it could also lead couples to termination who may have been helped by the sociolegal support systems available to heterosexuals (Peplau & Spalding, 2000).

Despite these challenges, relationships between gay and lesbian people are similar in other ways to those between heterosexuals. Gay, lesbian, and heterosexual people seek similar qualities in a potential mate, and once relationships are established, all these groups experience similar degrees of relational satisfaction (Peplau & Spalding, 2000). Despite the myth that one person plays the man and one plays the woman in a relationship, gay and lesbian partners do not have set preferences in terms of gender role. In fact, research shows that while women in heterosexual relationships tend to do more of the housework, gay and lesbian couples were more likely to divide tasks so that each person has an equal share of responsibility (Peplau & Spalding, 2000). A gay or lesbian couple doesn’t necessarily constitute an intercultural relationship, but as we have already discussed, sexuality is an important part of an individual’s identity and connects to larger social and cultural systems. Keeping in mind that identity and culture are complex, we can see that gay and lesbian relationships can also be intercultural if the partners are of different racial or ethnic backgrounds.

While interracial relationships have occurred throughout history, there have been more historical taboos in the United States regarding relationships between African Americans and white people than other racial groups. Antimiscegenation laws were common in states and made it illegal for people of different racial/ethnic groups to marry. It wasn’t until 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Loving versus Virginia , declaring these laws to be unconstitutional (Pratt, 1995). It wasn’t until 1998 and 2000, however, that South Carolina and Alabama removed such language from their state constitutions (, 2011). The organization and website commemorates the landmark case and works to end racial prejudice through education.

Even after these changes, there were more Asian-white and Latino/a-white relationships than there were African American–white relationships (Gaines Jr. & Brennan, 2011). Having already discussed the importance of similarity in attraction to mates, it’s important to note that partners in an interracial relationship, although culturally different, tend to be similar in occupation and income. This can likely be explained by the situational influences on our relationship formation we discussed earlier—namely, that work tends to be a starting ground for many of our relationships, and we usually work with people who have similar backgrounds to us.

There has been much research on interracial couples that counters the popular notion that partners may be less satisfied in their relationships due to cultural differences. In fact, relational satisfaction isn’t significantly different for interracial partners, although the challenges they may face in finding acceptance from other people could lead to stressors that are not as strong for intracultural partners (Gaines Jr. & Brennan, 2011). Although partners in interracial relationships certainly face challenges, there are positives. For example, some mention that they’ve experienced personal growth by learning about their partner’s cultural background, which helps them gain alternative perspectives. Specifically, white people in interracial relationships have cited an awareness of and empathy for racism that still exists, which they may not have been aware of before (Gaines Jr. & Liu, 2000).

Allen, B. J., Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity , 2nd ed. (Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2011), 55.

ben-Aaron, D., “Bringing Broadband to Finland’s Bookdocks,” Bloomberg Businessweek , July 19, 2010, 42.

Chen, Y. and Masato Nakazawa, “Influences of Culture on Self-Disclosure as Relationally Situated in Intercultural and Interracial Friendships from a Social Penetration Perspective,” Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 38, no. 2 (2009): 94. doi:10.1080/17475750903395408.

Coller, M. J., “Communication Competence Problematics in Ethnic Friendships,” Communication Monographs 63, no. 4 (1996): 324–25.

De La Baume, M. and J. David Goodman, “First Fines over Wearing Veils in France,” The New York Times ( The Lede: Blogging the News ), September 22, 2011, accessed October 10, 2011, -wearing-full-veils-in-france .

Fraser, C., “The Women Defying France’s Fall-Face Veil Ban,” BBC News , September 22, 2011, accessed October 10, 2011, .

Gaines Jr. S. O., and Kelly A. Brennan, “Establishing and Maintaining Satisfaction in Multicultural Relationships,” in Close Romantic Relationships: Maintenance and Enhancement , eds. John Harvey and Amy Wenzel (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2011), 239.

Stanley O. Gaines Jr., S. O., and James H. Liu, “Multicultural/Multiracial Relationships,” in Close Relationships: A Sourcebook , eds. Clyde Hendrick and Susan S. Hendrick (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000), 105.

Hofstede, G., Cultures and Organizations: Softwares of the Mind (London: McGraw-Hill, 1991), 26.

Human Rights Campaign, “Pass ENDA NOW”, accessed November 5, 2012, .

Lee, P., “Bridging Cultures: Understanding the Construction of Relational Identity in Intercultural Friendships,” Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 35, no. 1 (2006): 11. doi:10.1080/17475740600739156.

Loving Day, “The Last Laws to Go,” , accessed October 11, 2011, .

Lustig, M. W., and Jolene Koester, Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures , 2nd ed. (Boston, MA: Pearson, 2006), 128–29.

Martin, J. N., and Thomas K. Nakayama, Intercultural Communication in Contexts , 5th ed. (Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2010), 4.

Martin, J. N., and Thomas K. Nakayama, “Thinking Dialectically about Culture and Communication,” Communication Theory 9, no. 1 (1999): 14.

McLuhan, M., The Medium Is the Message (New York: Bantam Books, 1967).

Peplau, L. A. and Leah R. Spalding, “The Close Relationships of Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals,” in Close Relationships: A Sourcebook , eds. Clyde Hendrick and Susan S. Hendrick (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000), 113.

Pratt, R. A., “Crossing the Color Line: A Historical Assessment and Personal Narrative of Loving v. Virginia ,” Howard Law Journal 41, no. 2 (1995): 229–36.

Sias, P. M., Jolanta A. Drzewiecka, Mary Meares, Rhiannon Bent, Yoko Konomi, Maria Ortega, and Colene White, “Intercultural Friendship Development,” Communication Reports 21, no. 1 (2008): 9. doi:10.1080/08934210701643750.

Smith, P., “The Digital Divide,” New York Times Upfront , May 9, 2011, 6.

Sylvester, D. E., and Adam J. McGlynn, “The Digital Divide, Political Participation, and Place,” Social Science Computer Review 28, no. 1 (2010): 64–65. doi:10.1177/0894439309335148.

van Deursen, A. and Jan van Dijk, “Internet Skills and the Digital Divide,” New Media and Society 13, no. 6 (2010): 893. doi:10.1177/1461444810386774.

communication between people with differing cultural identities

the attitude that one's own group, ethnicity, or nationality is superior to others

refers to the unequal access to technology and related skills that exists in much of the world

a relationship between two opposing concepts that constantly push and pull one another

dualistic ways of thinking that highlight opposites, reducing the ability to see gradations that exist in between concepts

reduce/overlook important variations within a group

asks us to acknowledge that we each have multiple cultures and identities that intersect with each other

Introduction to Speech Communication Copyright © 2021 by Individual authors retain copyright of their work. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

  • Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

On This Page:

Sociocultural Theory 

The work of Lev Vygotsky (1934, 1978) has become the foundation of much research and theory in cognitive development over the past several decades, particularly what has become known as sociocultural theory.

Vygotsky’s theory comprises concepts such as culture-specific tools, private speech, and the zone of proximal development.

Vygotsky believed cognitive development is influenced by cultural and social factors. He emphasized the role of social interaction in the development of mental abilities e.g., speech and reasoning in children.

Vygotsky strongly believed that community plays a central role in the process of “making meaning.”

Cognitive development is a socially mediated process in which children acquire cultural values, beliefs, and problem-solving strategies through collaborative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society.

The more knowledgeable other (MKO) is someone who has a higher level of ability or greater understanding than the learner regarding a particular task, process, or concept.

The MKO can be a teacher, parent, coach, or even a peer who provides guidance and modeling to enable the child to learn skills within their zone of proximal development (the gap between what a child can do independently and what they can achieve with guidance).

The interactions with more knowledgeable others significantly increase not only the quantity of information and the number of skills a child develops, but also affects the development of higher-order mental functions such as formal reasoning. Vygotsky argued that higher mental abilities could only develop through interaction with more advanced others.

According to Vygotsky, adults in society foster children’s cognitive development by engaging them in challenging and meaningful activities. Adults convey to children how their culture interprets and responds to the world.

They show the meaning they attach to objects, events, and experiences. They provide the child with what to think (the knowledge) and how to think (the processes, the tools to think with).

Vygotsky’s theory encourages collaborative and cooperative learning between children and teachers or peers. Scaffolding and reciprocal teaching are effective educational strategies based on Vygotsky’s ideas.

Scaffolding involves the teacher providing support structures to help students master skills just beyond their current level. In reciprocal teaching, teachers and students take turns leading discussions using strategies like summarizing and clarifying. Both scaffolding and reciprocal teaching emphasize the shared construction of knowledge, in line with Vygotsky’s views.

Vygotsky highlighted the importance of language in cognitive development. Inner speech is used for mental reasoning, and external speech is used to converse with others.

These operations occur separately. Indeed, before age two, a child employs words socially; they possess no internal language.

Once thought and language merge, however, the social language is internalized and assists the child with their reasoning. Thus, the social environment is ingrained within the child’s learning.

Effects of Culture

Vygotsky emphasized the role of the social environment in the child’s cognitive development.

Vygotsky claimed that infants are born with the basic abilities for intellectual development called “elementary mental functions” (Piaget focuses on motor reflexes and sensory abilities). These develop throughout the first two years of life due to direct environmental contact.

Elementary mental functions include –

o Attention o Sensation o Perception o Memory

Eventually, through interaction within the sociocultural environment, these are developed into more sophisticated and effective mental processes, which Vygotsky refers to as “higher mental functions.”

Tools of intellectual adaptation

Each culture provides its children with tools of intellectual adaptation that allow them to use basic mental functions more effectively/adaptively.

Tools of intellectual adaptation is Vygotsky’s term for methods of thinking and problem-solving strategies that children internalize through social interactions with the more knowledgeable members of society.

For example, memory in young children is limited by biological factors. However, culture determines the type of memory strategy we develop.

For example, in Western culture, children learn note-taking to aid memory, but in pre-literate societies, other strategies must be developed, such as tying knots in a string to remember, carrying pebbles, or repeating the names of ancestors until large numbers can be repeated.

Vygotsky, therefore, sees cognitive functions, even those carried out alone, as affected by the beliefs, values, and tools of intellectual adaptation of the culture in which a person develops and, therefore, socio-culturally determined.

Therefore, intellectual adaptation tools vary from culture to culture – as in the memory example.

Social Influences on Cognitive Development

Like Piaget, Vygotsky believes that young children are curious and actively involved in their own learning and discovering and developing new understandings/schema .

However, Vygotsky emphasized social contributions to the development process, whereas Piaget emphasized self-initiated discovery.

According to Vygotsky (1978), much important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor. The tutor may model behaviors and/or provide verbal instructions for the child.

Vygotsky refers to this as cooperative or collaborative dialogue. The child seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) and then internalizes the information, using it to guide or regulate their performance.

Shaffer (1996) gives the example of a young girl given her first jigsaw. Alone, she performs poorly in attempting to solve the puzzle. The father then sits with her and describes or demonstrates some basic strategies, such as finding all the corner/edge pieces, and provides a couple of pieces for the child to put together herself, and offers encouragement when she does so.

As the child becomes more competent, the father allows the child to work more independently. According to Vygotsky, this social interaction involving cooperative or collaborative dialogue promotes cognitive development.

To understand Vygotsky’s theories on cognitive development, one must understand two of the main principles of Vygotsky’s work: the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) and the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

More Knowledgeable Other

The more knowledgeable other (MKO) is somewhat self-explanatory; it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, concerning a particular task, process, or concept.

Although the implication is that the MKO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case. Often, a child’s peers or an adult’s children may be the individuals with more knowledge or experience.

For example, who is more likely to know more about the newest teenage music groups, how to win at the most recent PlayStation game, or how to correctly perform the newest dance craze – a child or their parents?

In fact, the MKO need not be a person at all. To support employees in their learning process, some companies are now using electronic performance support systems.

Electronic tutors have also been used in educational settings to facilitate and guide students through learning. The key to MKOs is that they must have (or be programmed with) more knowledge about the topic being learned than the learner does.

Zone of Proximal Development

The concept of the more knowledgeable other relates to the second important principle of Vygotsky’s work, the zone of proximal development .

This important concept relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.

Vygotsky consequently focuses much more closely on social interaction as an aid to learning, arguing that, left alone, children will develop – but not to their full potential.

He refers to the gap between actual and potential learning as the zone of proximal development (ZPD) – and argues that it is only through collaboration with adults and other learners that this gap can be bridged.


The zone of proximal development is the gap between the level of actual development, what the child can do on his own, and the level of potential development, what a child can do with the assistance of more advanced and competent individuals.

Social interaction, therefore, supports the child’s cognitive development in the ZPD, leading to a higher level of reasoning. It is generally believed that social dialogues have two important features.

The first is intersubjectivity, where two individuals who might have different understandings of a task, arrive at a shared understanding by adjusting to the perspective of the other.

The second feature is referred to as scaffolding. Adults may begin with direct instruction, but as children’s mastery of a task increases, so the adult tends to withdraw their own contributions in recognition of the child’s increasing success.

For example, the child could not solve the jigsaw puzzle (in the example above) by itself and would have taken a long time to do so (if at all), but was able to solve it following interaction with the father, and has developed competence at this skill that will be applied to future jigsaws.

ZPD is the zone where instruction is the most beneficial, as it is when the task is just beyond the individual’s capabilities. To learn, we must be presented with tasks just out of our ability range. Challenging tasks promote maximum cognitive growth.

As a result of shared dialogues with more knowledgeable others, who provide hints, instructions, and encouragement, the child can internalize the ‘how to do it’ part of the task as part of their inner or private speech. The child can then use this on later occasions when they tackle a similar task on their own.

Vygotsky (1978) sees the Zone of Proximal Development as the area where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given – allowing the child to develop skills they will then use on their own – developing higher mental functions.

Vygotsky also views peer interaction as an effective way of developing skills and strategies.  He suggests that teachers use cooperative learning exercises where less competent children develop with help from more skillful peers – within the zone of proximal development.

Evidence for Vygotsky and the ZPD

Freund (1990) conducted a study in which children had to decide which items of furniture should be placed in particular areas of a doll’s house.

Some children were allowed to play with their mother in a similar situation before they attempted it alone (zone of proximal development) while others were allowed to work on this by themselves (Piaget’s discovery learning).

Freund found that those who had previously worked with their mother (ZPD) showed the greatest improvement compared with their first attempt at the task.

The conclusion is that guided learning within the ZPD led to greater understanding/performance than working alone (discovery learning).

Vygotsky and Language

Vygotsky believed that language develops from social interactions for communication purposes. Vygotsky viewed language as man’s greatest tool for communicating with the outside world.

According to Vygotsky (1962), language plays two critical roles in cognitive development:
  • It is the main means by which adults transmit information to children.
  • Language itself becomes a very powerful tool for intellectual adaptation.
Vygotsky (1987) differentiates between three forms of language:
  • Social speech, which is external communication used to talk to others (typical from the age of two);
  • Private speech (typical from the age of three) which is directed to the self and serves an intellectual function;
  • Private speech goes underground , diminishing in audibility as it takes on a self-regulating function and is transformed into silent inner speech (typical from the age of seven).

For Vygotsky, thought and language are initially separate systems from the beginning of life, merging at around three years of age.

At this point, speech and thought become interdependent: thought becomes verbal, and speech becomes representational.

As children develop mental representation, particularly the skill of language, they start to communicate with themselves in much the same way as they would communicate with others.

When this happens, children’s monologues are internalized to become inner speech. The internalization of language is important as it drives cognitive development.

“Inner speech is not the interiour aspect of external speech – it is a function in itself. It still remains speech, i.e., thought connected with words. But while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words dies as they bring forth thought. Inner speech is to a large extent thinking in pure meanings.” (Vygotsky, 1962: p. 149)

Private Speech

Vygotsky (1987) was the first psychologist to document the importance of private speech.

He considered private speech as the transition point between social and inner speech, the moment in development where language and thought unite to constitute verbal thinking.

Thus, in Vygotsky’s view, private speech was the earliest manifestation of inner speech. Indeed, private speech is more similar (in form and function) to inner speech than social speech.

Private speech is “typically defined, in contrast to social speech, as speech addressed to the self (not to others) for the purpose of self-regulation (rather than communication).” (Diaz, 1992, p.62)

Private speech is overt, audible, and observable, often seen in children who talk to themselves while problem-solving.

Conversely, inner speech is covert or hidden because it happens internally. It is the silent, internal dialogue that adults often engage in while thinking or problem-solving.

In contrast to Piaget’s (1959) notion of private speech representing a developmental dead-end, Vygotsky (1934, 1987) viewed private speech as:

“A revolution in development which is triggered when preverbal thought and preintellectual language come together to create fundamentally new forms of mental functioning.” (Fernyhough & Fradley, 2005: p. 1)

In addition to disagreeing on the functional significance of private speech, Vygotsky and Piaget also offered opposing views on the developmental course of private speech and the environmental circumstances in which it occurs most often (Berk & Garvin, 1984).


Through private speech, children collaborate with themselves, in the same way a more knowledgeable other (e.g., adults) collaborate with them to achieve a given function.

Vygotsky sees “private speech” as a means for children to plan activities and strategies, aiding their development. Private speech is the use of language for self-regulation of behavior.

Therefore, language accelerates thinking/understanding ( Jerome Bruner also views language in this way). Vygotsky believed that children who engage in large amounts of private speech are more socially competent than children who do not use it extensively.

Vygotsky (1987) notes that private speech does not merely accompany a child’s activity but acts as a tool the developing child uses to facilitate cognitive processes, such as overcoming task obstacles, and enhancing imagination, thinking, and conscious awareness.

Children use private speech most often during intermediate difficulty tasks because they attempt to self-regulate by verbally planning and organizing their thoughts (Winsler et al., 2007).

The frequency and content of private speech correlate with behavior or performance. For example, private speech appears functionally related to cognitive performance: It appears at times of difficulty with a task.

For example, tasks related to executive function (Fernyhough & Fradley, 2005), problem-solving tasks (Behrend et al., 1992), and schoolwork in both language (Berk & Landau, 1993), and mathematics (Ostad & Sorensen, 2007).

Berk (1986) provided empirical support for the notion of private speech. She found that most private speech exhibited by children serves to describe or guide the child’s actions.

Berk also discovered that children engaged in private speech more often when working alone on challenging tasks and when their teacher was not immediately available to help them.

Furthermore, Berk also found that private speech develops similarly in all children regardless of cultural background.

There is also evidence (Behrend et al., 1992) that those children who displayed the characteristic whispering and lip movements associated with private speech when faced with a difficult task were generally more attentive and successful than their ‘quieter’ classmates.

Vygotsky (1987) proposed that private speech is a product of an individual’s social environment. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that there exist high positive correlations between rates of social interaction and private speech in children.

Children raised in cognitively and linguistically stimulating environments (situations more frequently observed in higher socioeconomic status families) start using and internalizing private speech faster than children from less privileged backgrounds.

Indeed, children raised in environments characterized by low verbal and social exchanges exhibit delays in private speech development.

Children’s use of private speech diminishes as they grow older and follows a curvilinear trend. This is due to changes in ontogenetic development whereby children can internalize language (through inner speech) to self-regulate their behavior (Vygotsky, 1987).

For example, research has shown that children’s private speech usually peaks at 3–4 years of age, decreases at 6–7, and gradually fades out to be mostly internalized by age 10 (Diaz, 1992).

Vygotsky proposed that private speech diminishes and disappears with age not because it becomes socialized, as Piaget suggested, but because it goes underground to constitute inner speech or verbal thought” (Frauenglass & Diaz, 1985).

Educational Implications

Vygotsky’s approach to child development is a form of social constructivism , based on the idea that cognitive functions are the products of social interactions.

Social constructivism posits that knowledge is constructed and learning occurs through social interactions within a cultural and historical context.

Vygotsky emphasized the collaborative nature of learning by constructing knowledge through social negotiation. He rejected the assumption made by Piaget that it was possible to separate learning from its social context.

Vygotsky believed everything is learned on two levels. First, through interaction with others, then integrated into the individual’s mental structure.

Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals. (Vygotsky, 1978, p.57)

Teaching styles grounded in constructivism represent a deliberate shift from traditional, didactic, memory-oriented transmission models (Cannella & Reiff, 1994) to a more student-centered approach.

Traditionally, schools have failed to foster environments where students actively participate in their own and their peers’ education. Vygotsky’s theory, however, calls for both the teacher and students to assume non-traditional roles as they engage in collaborative learning.

Rather than having a teacher impose their understanding onto students for future recitation, the teacher should co-create meaning with students in a manner that allows learners to take ownership (Hausfather, 1996).

For instance, a student and teacher might start a task with varying levels of expertise and understanding. As they adapt to each other’s perspective, the teacher must articulate their insights in a way that the student can comprehend, leading the student to a fuller understanding of the task or concept.

The student can then internalize the task’s operational aspect (“how to do it”) into their inner speech or private dialogue. Vygotsky referred to this reciprocal understanding and adjustment process as intersubjectivity.”

Because Vygotsky asserts that cognitive change occurs within the zone of proximal development, instruction would be designed to reach a developmental level just above the student’s current developmental level.

Vygotsky proclaims, “learning which is oriented toward developmental levels that have already been reached is ineffective from the viewpoint of the child’s overall development. It does not aim for a new stage of the developmental process but rather lags behind this process” (Vygotsky, 1978).

Appropriation is necessary for cognitive development within the zone of proximal development. Individuals participating in peer collaboration or guided teacher instruction must share the same focus to access the zone of proximal development.

“Joint attention and shared problem solving is needed to create a process of cognitive, social, and emotional interchange” (Hausfather,1996).

Furthermore, it is essential that the partners be on different developmental levels and the higher-level partner be aware of the lower’s level. If this does not occur or one partner dominates, the interaction is less successful (Driscoll, 1994; Hausfather, 1996).

Vygotsky’s theories also feed into the current interest in collaborative learning, suggesting that group members should have different levels of ability so more advanced peers can help less advanced members operate within their ZPD.

Scaffolding and reciprocal teaching are effective strategies to access the zone of proximal development.

Reciprocal Teaching

A contemporary educational application of Vygotsky’s theory is “reciprocal teaching,” used to improve students” ability to learn from text.

In this method, teachers and students collaborate in learning and practicing four key skills: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. The teacher’s role in the process is reduced over time.

Reciprocal teaching allows for the creation of a dialogue between students and teachers. This two-way communication becomes an instructional strategy by encouraging students to go beyond answering questions and engage in the discourse (Driscoll, 1994; Hausfather, 1996).

A study conducted by Brown and Palincsar (1989) demonstrated the Vygotskian approach with reciprocal teaching methods in their successful program to teach reading strategies.

The teacher and students alternated turns leading small group discussions on a reading. After modeling four reading strategies, students began to assume the teaching role.

The results showed significant gains over other instructional strategies (Driscoll, 1994; Hausfather,1996).

Cognitively Guided Instruction is another strategy to implement Vygotsky’s theory. This strategy involves the teacher and students exploring math problems and then sharing their problem-solving strategies in an open dialogue (Hausfather,1996).

Based on Vygotsky’s theory, the physical classroom would provide clustered desks or tables and workspace for peer instruction, collaboration, and small-group instruction. Learning becomes a reciprocal experience for the students and teacher.

Like the environment, the instructional design of the material to be learned would be structured to promote and encourage student interaction and collaboration. Thus the classroom becomes a community of learning.


Also, Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development on learners is relevant to instructional concepts such as “scaffolding” and “apprenticeship,” in which a teacher or more advanced peer helps to structure or arrange a task so that a novice can work on it successfully.

A teacher’s role is to identify each individual’s current level of development and provide them with opportunities to cross their ZPD.

A crucial element in this process is the use of what later became known as scaffolding; the way in which the teacher provides students with frameworks and experiences which encourage them to extend their existing schemata and incorporate new skills, competencies, and understandings.

Scaffolding describes the conditions that support the child’s learning, to move from what they already know to new knowledge and abilities.

Scaffolding requires the teacher to allow students to extend their current skills and knowledge.

During scaffolding, the support offered by an adult (or more knowledgeable other) gradually decreases as the child becomes more skilled in the task.

As the adult withdraws their help, the child assumes more of the strategic planning and eventually gains competence to master similar problems without a teacher’s aid or a more knowledgeable peer.

It is important to note that this is more than simply instruction; learning experiences must be presented in such a way as to actively challenge existing mental structures and provide frameworks for learning.

Five ways in which an adult can “scaffold” a child’s learning:

  • Engaging the child’s interest
  • Maintaining the child’s interest in the task e.g., avoiding distraction and providing clear instructions on how to start the task.
  • Keeping the child’s frustration under control e.g., by supportive interactions, adapting instructions according to where the child is struggling.
  • Emphasizing the important features of the task
  • Demonstrating the task: showing the child how to do the task in simple, clear steps.

As the child progresses through the ZPD, the necessary scaffolding level declines from 5 to 1.

The teacher must engage students’ interests, simplify tasks to be manageable, and motivate students to pursue the instructional goal.

In addition, the teacher must look for discrepancies between students” efforts and the solution, control for frustration and risk, and model an idealized version of the act (Hausfather, 1996).

Challenges to Traditional Teaching Methods

Vygotsky’s social development theory challenges traditional teaching methods. Historically, schools have been organized around recitation teaching.

The teacher disseminates knowledge to be memorized by the students, who in turn recite the information to the teacher (Hausfather,1996).

However, the studies described above offer empirical evidence that learning based on the social development theory facilitates cognitive development over other instructional strategies.

The structure of our schools does not reflect the rapid changes our society is experiencing. The introduction and integration of computer technology in society has tremendously increased the opportunities for social interaction.

Therefore, the social context for learning is transforming as well. Whereas collaboration and peer instruction were once only possible in shared physical space, learning relationships can now be formed from distances through cyberspace.

Computer technology is a cultural tool that students can use to meditate and internalize their learning. Recent research suggests changing the learning contexts with technology is a powerful learning activity (Crawford, 1996).

If schools continue to resist structural change, students will be ill-prepared for the world they will live.

Critical Evaluation

Vygotsky’s work has not received the same level of intense scrutiny that Piaget’s has, partly due to the time-consuming process of translating Vygotsky’s work from Russian.

Also, Vygotsky’s sociocultural perspective does not provide as many specific hypotheses to test as Piaget’s theory, making refutation difficult, if not impossible.

Perhaps the main criticism of Vygotsky’s work concerns the assumption that it is relevant to all cultures. Rogoff (1990) dismisses the idea that Vygotsky’s ideas are culturally universal and instead states that scaffolding- heavily dependent on verbal instruction – may not be equally useful in all cultures for all types of learning.

Indeed, in some instances, observation and practice may be more effective ways of learning certain skills.

There is much emphasis on social interaction and culture, but many other aspects of development are neglected, such as the importance of emotional factors, e.g., the joys of success and the disappointments and frustration of failure act as motivation for learning.

Vygotsky overemphasized socio-cultural factors at the expense of biological influences on cognitive development. This theory cannot explain why cross-cultural studies show that the stages of development (except the formal operational stage ) occur in the same order in all cultures suggesting that cognitive development is a product of a biological process of maturation.

Vygotky’s theory has been applied successfully to education. Scaffolding has been shown to be an effective way of teaching (Freund, 1990), and based on this theory, teachers are trained to guide children from what they can do to the next step in their learning through careful scaffolding.

Collaborative work is also used in the classroom, mixing children of different levels of ability to make use of reciprocal / peer teaching.

Vygotsky vs. Piaget

Unlike Piaget’s notion that children’s cognitive development must necessarily precede their learning, Vygotsky argued, “learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function” (1978, p. 90).  In other words, social learning precedes (i.e., come before) development.

Differences betwee Vygotsky and Piaget In Psychology

Vygotsky’s theory differs from that of Piaget in several important ways:

Vygotsky places more emphasis on culture affecting cognitive development.

Unlike Piaget, who emphasized universal cognitive change (i.e., all children would go through the same sequence of cognitive development regardless of their cultural experiences), Vygotsky leads us to expect variable development depending on cultural diversity. 

This contradicts Piaget’s view of universal stages of development (Vygotsky does not refer to stages like Piaget does).

Hence, Vygotsky assumes cognitive development varies across cultures, whereas Piaget states cognitive development is mostly universal across cultures.

Vygotsky places considerably more emphasis on social factors contributing to cognitive development.

In contrast, Piaget maintains that cognitive development stems largely from independent explorations in which children construct knowledge.

The importance of scaffolding and language may differ for all cultures. Rogoff (1990) emphasizes the importance of observation and practice in pre-industrial societies (e.g., learning to use a canoe among Micronesian Islanders).

Vygotsky places more (and different) emphasis on the role of language in cognitive development.

According to Piaget , language depends on thought for its development (i.e., thought comes before language). For Vygotsky, thought and language are initially separate systems from the beginning of life, merging at around three years of age, producing verbal thought (inner speech).

In Piaget’s theory, egocentric (or private) speech gradually disappears as children develop truly social speech, in which they monitor and adapt what they say to others.

Vygotsky disagreed with this view, arguing that as language helps children to think about and control their behavior, it is an important foundation for complex cognitive skills.

As children age, this self-directed speech becomes silent (or private) speech, referring to the inner dialogues we have with ourselves as we plan and carry out activities.

For Vygotsky, cognitive development results from an internalization of language.

According to Vygotsky, adults are an important source of cognitive development.

Adults transmit their culture’s tools of intellectual adaptation that children internalize.

In contrast, Piaget emphasizes the importance of peers, as peer interaction promotes social perspective-taking.

Behrend, D.A., Rosengren, K.S., & Perlmutter, M. (1992). The relation between private speech and parental interactive style. In R.M. Diaz & L.E. Berk (Eds.), Private speech: From social interaction to self-regulation (pp. 85–100) . Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Berk, L. E. (1986). Relationship of elementary school children’s private speech to behavioral accompaniment to task, attention, and task performance. Developmental Psychology, 22(5) , 671.

Berk, L. & Garvin, R. (1984). Development of private speech among low-income Appalachian children. Developmental Psychology, 20(2) , 271-286.

Berk, L. E., & Landau, S. (1993). Private speech of learning-disabled and normally achieving children in classroom academic and laboratory contexts. Child Development, 64 , 556–571.

Cannella, G. S., & Reiff, J. C. (1994). Individual constructivist teacher education: Teachers as empowered learners . Teacher education quarterly , 27-38.

Crawford, K. (1996) Vygotskian approaches to human development in the information era. Educational Studies in Mathematics, (31) ,43-62.

Diaz, R. M., & Berk, L. E. (1992). Private speech: From social interaction to self-regulation. Lawrence Erlbaum.

Driscoll, M. P. (1994). Psychology of Learning for Instruction . Needham, Ma: Allyn && Bacon.

Frauenglass, M. & Diaz, R. (1985). Self-regulatory functions of children’s private speech: A critical analysis of recent challenges to Vygotsky’s theory. Developmental Psychology, 21(2) , 357-364.

Fernyhough, C., & Fradley, E. (2005). Private speech on an executive task: Relations with task difficulty and task performance . Cognitive Development, 20 , 103–120.

Freund, L. S. (1990). Maternal regulation of children’s problem-solving behavior and its impact on children’s performance . Child Development, 61 , 113-126.

Hausfather, S. J. (1996). Vygotsky and Schooling: Creating a Social Contest for learning. Action in Teacher Education, (18) ,1-10.

Ostad, S. A., & Sorensen, P. M. (2007). Private speech and strategy-use patterns: Bidirectional comparisons of children with and without mathematical difficulties in a developmental perspective. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 40 , 2–14.

Piaget, J. (1959). The language and thought of the child (Vol. 5) . Psychology Press.

Rogoff, B. (1990).  Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context . Oxford university press.

Saettler, P. (1990). The Evolution of American Educational Technology . Egnlewood, Co: Libraries Unlimited.

Schaffer, R. (1996) . Social development. Oxford: Blackwell.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thinking and speech. In R.W. Rieber & A.S. Carton (Eds.), The collected works of L.S. Vygotsky, Volume 1: Problems of general psychology (pp. 39–285) . New York: Plenum Press. (Original work published 1934.)

Winsler, A., Abar, B., Feder, M. A., Schunn, C. D., & Rubio, D. A. (2007). Private speech and executive functioning among high-functioning children with autistic spectrum disorders . Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37 , 1617-1635.

Wertsch, J. V., Sohmer, R. (1995). Vygotsky on learning and development. Human Development, (38), 332-37.

Further Reading

  • Journal Article on Private Speech

What is Vygotsky’s Theory

Vygotsky believed that cognitive development was founded on social interaction. According to Vygotsky, much of what children acquire in their understanding of the world is the product of collaboration.

How is Vygotsky’s theory applied in teaching and learning?

Vygotsky’s theory has profound implications for classroom learning. Teachers guide, support, and encourage children, yet also help them to develop problem-solving strategies that can be generalized to other situations.

Children learn best not when they are isolated, but when they interact with others, particularly more knowledgeable others who can provide the guidance and encouragement to master new skills.

What was Vygotsky’s best know concept?

Lev Vygotsky was a seminal Russian psychologist best known for his sociocultural theory. He constructed the idea of a zone of proximal development ,  which are those tasks which are too difficult for a child to solve alone but s/he can accomplish with the help of adults or more skilled peers.

Vygotsky has developed a sociocultural approach to cognitive development. He developed his theories at around the same time as  Jean Piaget  was starting to develop his ideas (1920’s and 30″s), but he died at the age of 38, and so his theories are incomplete – although some of his writings are still being translated from Russian.

Like Piaget, Vygotsky could be described as a  constructivist , in that he was interested in knowledge acquisition as a cumulative event – with new experiences and understandings incorporated into existing cognitive frameworks.

However, while Piaget’s theory is structural (arguing that physiological stages govern development), Vygotsky denies the existence of any guiding framework independent of culture and context.

No single principle (such as Piaget’s equilibration) can account for development. Individual development cannot be understood without reference to the social and cultural context within which it is embedded. Higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social processes.

What is Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory?

Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory is often referred to as the Sociocultural Theory.

Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory posits that social interaction is fundamental to cognitive development. Vygotsky emphasized the influence of cultural and social contexts on learning, claiming that knowledge is constructed through social collaboration.

His most known concept, the Zone of Proximal Development, refers to the difference between what a learner can do independently and what they can achieve with guidance.

culture of speech

Cultural Day speech - "The brave do not abandon their culture"

Culture is the total way of life that people in the society are blessed with. culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. through culture we are governed by norms and customs, which are the pillars of any society. if these […].

culture of speech

Culture is the total way of life that people in the society are blessed with. Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Through culture we are governed by norms and customs, which are the pillars of any society. If these pillars are not properly followed in our society, our culture will resemble a perfume with no smell. It’s a gradual existence of presenting those norms and customs to people who surround us through music, dances, arts, crafts, food, dressing style, languages just to mention a few.

Cultural Day speech - "The brave do not abandon their culture"

Culture has been known since man came to an existence and till today we are still practicing it. Through culture we learn how to be better people in the society like living as brothers and sisters. It’s very hard for a person to live without culture because it’s like an antelope at the middle of hungry lioness. A human being is a very complex creature. Every individual human has a distinguished attitude, behaviours as well as traits. It is only through culture where human beings act uniformly and live as a society. Thus, in a simple definition of culture we all agree that culture is a totality way of life of a certain given society as they live and continue to struggle against the nature.  

Africa is believed to be the cornerstone of culture and every year, thousands of people from all over the world visit Africa to witness the beautiful culture, history and other amazing natural phenomena which Africa is blessed with and which it cherishes, for instance the earth surface features, wild animals, water bodies as well as hospitality of the people in the continent. Also, food, songs, costumes just to mention a few. Just as we are going to witness in this very day.

The way, we Africans handle our lives and whatever surrounds us; that is actually our culture, and it is through which we are identified. However, there are many different cultures from other communities and from other parts of the world, which remain to be the part of great adventure and identity to those people who live in those communities. We also recognize and appreciate their cultures. Wherever you are and wherever you live, your culture is of great value since it is the one which made you to be who you are today. Under no circumstance, a brave should not abandon his or her culture because if one abandons his or her culture, I dare to say he or she would abandon him or herself.

It is high time for us to protect all what we have in our culture and whatever is good should be taken to great heights and we should try all our level best to eliminate all those practices which are against human rights even if they have been practiced in our culture for centuries. Practices such as female genital mutilation, discrimination of any kind, torture to women and children and any kind of maltreatment to our society members. Culture is not static, it changes as the human being develops so let us not be prisoners of our own culture.

For those who have been here for four years will agree with us that we have been improving always from our first Cultural Day in 2010, 2011 and last year. The event is about commemorating our culture and other cultures beyond our boarders and beyond our continent. It must be well understood that, preserving our culture doesn’t mean to disrespect other peoples’ cultures. Cultures create and develop identities.

Cultural Day speech - "The brave do not abandon their culture"

Today, and now, I highly call all students and staffs to try all our level best to love and feel proud of our culture. This is because it is believed that you will not know the importance of things unless they are taken away from you. Through the education that we get here at St Jude, we should enable ourselves to reach the millennium goals of fighting and eradicating poverty, diseases and ignorance which are the challenges facing the African continent. But also it will help us to reach the mission and vision of our school of preparing the future leaders of Tanzania and the world at large. Leaders who are responsible, respectful, honest, kind to all the people and our planet earth because if we destroy it, we also destroy ourselves in another way. I believe that, we are not Africans because we are only born in Africa but because Africa is born in our hearts.

Our culture is possible with our environment. The responsibility of preserving our environment is also part of our culture. William Mkufya, a famous Tanzanian writer in one of his book blamed the human being for destroying his own environment and if I may quote him, he says “The presence of modern human on earth is only a few thousand years old and yet have destroyed a huge portion of what nature has preserved for millions of years”. Ladies and gentlemen, let me take this opportunity to remind each one of us to take responsibility in preserving our environment, what exactly the  nature has preserve for millions of years as Mkufya says.  

Having said so, I believe that changes can also be brought by us, by working and cooperating with different people, even those who live beyond our shores. Through our talents, ideas and education that we get here at St Jude we can change ourselves as well as our society and other societies too. I truly believe that this young and brave generation will one day make a greater change and make the world a better place for every single person.

Cultural Day speech - "The brave do not abandon their culture"

There are 120 tribes and so 120 languages in Tanzania ranging from Bantu Cushites to Nilotes. All these tribes have their cultures. Additionally, we are also blessed to be united by one language, Kiswahili and one country Tanzania.

Actually, there is indeed a great need of creating a balance between affirmation of the previous marginalized cultures by supporting them, and also appreciate the current dominant cultures putting forward and support their languages which are Kiswahili and other languages in our societies.

Ultimately, to make this long story short, may I call all of us with all love, kindness and sympathy to pray for Mzee Madiba who was the first president of South Africa to retain back his health and get better soon. GOD hears our voices, and we hope that Nelson Mandela will get well thus we say “Get well soon tata.”

God bless Africa, God bless Tanzania, and God bless St Jude.

Remember, “Jasiri haachi asili,” The brave do not abandon their culture.

 Prepared by Eric, Enock and Hosiana – Form 5 students at St Jude’s

Related Stories

culture of speech

Share this Story

Speech on Culture [1, 2, 3, 5 Minutes]

1, 2, 3 minutes speech on culture.

Dear teachers and students!

Greetings to all. and thank you to all of you to give me chance to give a speech.

culture plays a crucial role in the human experience. Our identity is shaped by the combination of our traditions, rituals, beliefs, and behaviours that bind us to our past and our neighbourhood.

Culture includes more than just music and art; it also includes how we relate to one another, what we hold dear, and how we go about living our daily lives. It includes all of our attitudes and values, manners and practises, spoken and written words, as well as ways of living and working.

We can better comprehend ourselves and the world around us thanks to culture, which is a strong force. It enables us to communicate with others and express ourselves. It serves as a catalyst for innovation, creativity, and inspiration.

Although tourism is a major source of money for many nations and can help to preserve historical and cultural places, culture also has a big impact on how our economy and society are shaped. Additionally, culture can be used as a diplomatic and international relations tool.

Contrarily, we must be conscious of the fact that culture may also serve as a catalyst for tension and conflict. When different cultures interact, misconceptions and preconceptions may occur, therefore it’s crucial that we work to understand and respect them even when we don’t agree with them.

In conclusion, culture plays a crucial role in defining both our identities as people and as a society. It influences who we are, ties us to the past, and improves our quality of life. Let’s cooperate to value, protect, and cherish the cultural diversity that exists all around us.

I’m grateful.

5 Minutes Speech on Culture

One of the most crucial components of human society is culture. It influences our thoughts, behaviours, and interpersonal interactions. The beliefs, practises, social norms, and traditions that make up our culture are what make us who we are as a people.

The fact that culture is continuously changing is one of its most fascinating aspects. Our history, environment, and social connections all have an impact on it. It is a reflection of our society’s ideals and goals.

Art, music, literature, and even food are some of the numerous ways that culture can be expressed. Every culture has its own distinctive artistic forms and methods for expressing creativity. Additionally, it aids in fostering harmony and understanding among various social groupings.

Tradition is one of the main components of culture. The transmission of cultural values and beliefs from one generation to the next is aided by tradition. Additionally, it makes us feel rooted and a part of something bigger than ourselves.

However, culture is more than just the past; it also aids in navigating the present and preparing for the future. Finding purpose and significance in our lives as well as the world around us is what culture is all about.

As a society, one of the most crucial things we can do is to celebrate and protect our culture. We ought to endeavour to preserve our heritage for future generations and be proud of it. In order to build a more accepting and peaceful society, we should also make an effort to understand and value other people’s cultures.

As a whole, culture is an essential and dynamic component of human civilization that determines who we are and establishes our position in it. We have a responsibility to protect it for upcoming generations because it is something to be treasured and embraced.

Speeches in English

  • Speech on women’s empowerment
  • Speech on social media
  • Speech on environment
  • Speech on gender equality
  • Speech on poverty
  • Speech on Global Warming
  • Speech on Environmental Pollution
  • Speech on Earth Day
  • Speech on Discipline
  • Speech on Human Rights
  • Speech on Education
  • Motivational speech for students
  • 2-minute Self-introduction speech examples
  • Speech on Mahatma Gandhi
  • Speech on freedom fighters
  • Speech on APJ Abdul Kalam
  • Speech about friendship
  • Speech about Technology
  • Speech on Parents
  • Speech on Health
  • Speech on Doctor
  • Speech about Life
  • Speech on Health and Hygiene
  • Speech on sports
  • Speech on Racism
  • Speech on Mental health
  • Speech on Population
  • Speech on Overcoming Fear
  • Speech about Family
  • Speech on Mobile Phones
  • Speech on water conservation
  • Speech on Honesty
  • Speech on Culture
  • Speech on Unity in diversity
  • Speech on Peace
  • Speech on Time
  • Speech on Success
  • Speech on Leadership

Related Posts:

  • Speech about Indian Culture [1,2,3,5 Minutes]
  • Tissue and cell culture MCQs
  • Pakistan Society and Culture Past Papers
  • Research Topics Mushroom culture and medicinal plants
  • Research Topics of Micro-Propagation Through Tissue Culture Technology

Talk to our experts


  • Indian Culture Speech


Long Speech On Indian Culture

Culture as a term is very rich and deep. It has a very broad range of other parts of a region or country that constitutes the formation of culture. Culture can also be referred to as the way of living and the way a society functions. Indian culture when looked upon can be categorised into two separate time periods. Ancient times and modern or contemporary times. India, being home to many religions, caste and culture, thrives on its diversity. The diversity of our nation makes our Indian Culture the most distinguishable and unique. Indian Culture Speech in this article is explored in different ways of presenting. It can be a Long Speech On Indian Culture or a Short Speech On Indian Culture.

Long and Short Speech on Indian Culture

Long indian culture speech .

This format of speech on Indian Culture is of  500-words that can be delivered as a 5-minute speech and it is helpful for students in grades 8-12.

Good morning everyone, respected Principal, Teachers and my fellow students, I am XYZ (mention your name) here to deliver a speech on Indian culture. Let’s first understand the meaning of culture. ‘Colere’ is a Latin word that means to cultivate via tending to the earth that helps us nurture and grow. The term culture is derived from the word ‘colere’ which means any form of manifestation that has nurtured the civilization to move ahead and grow. 

The manifestations can be of the intellectual form that represents our art, religious texts, books, classical music and classical dance forms. For instance, Ballet is a classical dance form of France that displays aesthetics and ethereal qualities and practices using rigorous techniques. 

In our country India, there is a form of classical dance representing each state, in the North region, Kathak is practised which captures the quality of life specific to people in the hilly regions of Northern India. Odissi is the classical dance of Odisha, Bharatanatyam is from Andhra Pradesh and Kuchipuddi from Kerala. All of it contributes to the culture of India.

The other form of culture means language, how we greet each other, how we behave with our loved ones, religion, cuisine, social habits and clothes, what we wear, how we wear it. The richness of our cultural heritage is supreme in the world and regardless we greet each other with humility by bowing with folded hands in Namaste. 

In India family means a close-knit group of people who chose to stay together in a joint family set up and gladly help each other and spend time together. In other parts of the world, the culture is very individualistic and they have to take appointments even to meet their parents.

The clothes, in Indian culture saree, is the traditional wear for women and kurta for men although now in the metro cities the western wear is adopted by the youth and they dorn jeans, skirts and shirts. 

Food is the most important part of any culture, and India has a unique and wide range of food palate. The staple food for northerners is roti made of wheat, flour and barley. The eastern and southern parts of India have rice regularly. In West Bengal and Odisha, fish curry is a popular dish. And the western states like Gujarat relish light and non-oily vegetarian meals. 

Culture is also about religion and India certainly is a home to many like Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Parsi and even Christianity. The most important cultural and learnings that India draws from are the Vedas and the holy books of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The teachings of these texts are very true even to date and have been an integral part of all the children who grow up in Hindu culture and certainly, even if not a Hindu everyone is aware of it.

This diversity and unique amalgamation of different cultures in one can be seen in India. And Indian culture is like many worlds within one. Let’s celebrate and cherish our beautiful culture.

Short Indian Culture Speech 

This type of short speech on Indian culture is helpful for students in grades 4-7 to deliver a 3-minute speech.

We preach and practice ‘ Atithi Devo Bhava’. Our guests are treated as Gods and we have to serve and treat them with respect and love. We must all take pride in such a rich culture like ourGood morning everyone I am Xyz (mention your name) here to speak on the topic of Indian culture. Culture is what people make it to be and that seeps into everything. Be it the way one talks to your elders, peers, friends, the language, way of dressing, religion, what one believes in, food habits and the social life lived. Everything that becomes a norm in a society becomes a culture. 

Indian culture is not just about saying Namaste in our greeting or touching the feet of our elders. It is in our culture to honour spiritual growth and consider everybody equal and treated with kindness. These faiths and belief systems in our country come from the concept of Dharma. 

That speaks about religion and even though our country is the birthplace of many religions humanity is considered above all. The concept of Karma is a sense of duty to do the right thing in the right way and ahimsa that promotes the idea of non-violence and to not engage in any such trivial fights. 

These three main concepts have been heavily influenced by all the religious texts as well. That was a large part of the ancient culture which people are trying to retain even in modern times as well. Our country is very inclusive as people are free to practice their own choice of religion. India is diverse even in food habits where one part enjoys spice and rice others prefer sweets and rotis. 

India is also welcoming of everyone regardless of their religion, colour and caste. It is only in India that we preach and practice ‘ Atithi Devo Bhava’. Our guests are treated as Gods and we have to serve and treat them with respect and love. We must all take pride in such a rich culture like ours.

10 Line Speech on Indian Culture

This is a brief note that will be helpful for delivering this speech to students in grades 1-3 as they can understand the simple format of speech.

India is a populated country with millions of people living in this land and the culture is vastly different even within India.

The written and spoken languages, food, lifestyle, dance forms, art, music, choice of clothing, talking to others, working style all come under the huge umbrella of culture.

In India, with 28 states and 7 union territories, the culture differs from one region or state to another.

Where in the north-west, Rajasthan is a state that still values the traditional lifestyle of eating vegetarian, wearing traditional clothes and women wearing a saree veil is a norm protocol. However, it is not the same everywhere in India. 

In other states like Goa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, New Delhi people live based on the norms of modern culture. 

The core of Indian culture lies in our values and virtues.

Family values and a sense of community and togetherness is an integral part of our culture.

Every festival is celebrated with equal zeal be it Holi, Eid, Diwali, or Christmas. 

People of all religions thrive in our country, Hindus, Muslim, Sikh, and Christian.

Indian culture values the spirit or soul of every individual to be equal so we don’t consider ourselves superior and bow in our greeting with folded hands saying Namaste


FAQs on Indian Culture Speech

1. What is Indian culture like?

India's culture refers to a collection of minor, distinct cultures. Clothing, festivals, languages, religions, music, dance, architecture, food, and art are all part of India's culture. Throughout its history, Indian culture has been impacted by a variety of foreign cultures. Furthermore, India's culture has a millennia-long past. Social norms, ethical principles, traditional rituals, religious systems, political systems, artifacts, and technology that originated in or are related to the Indian subcontinent make up Indian culture.

2. What distinguishes India?

India is one of the world's largest countries, with administrative powers and responsibilities split between the central government and various entities, such as states and union territories. India now has 29 states and seven union territories. Each state has its unique language, dress, cuisine, and appearance. In addition to mathematics, number zero, shampoo, chess, the value of pi, and diamond mining, India is the birthplace of numerous other inventions. These qualities distinguish India.

3. What changes have occurred in Indian culture in the last few decades?

Many changes have occurred in Indian culture during the last few decades. Female empowerment, westernization, a fall in superstition, better literacy, improved education, and other developments are among the most significant. The most essential variables that have enabled or prevented our society from adopting or integrating are political freedom and the introduction of democratic values, industrialization, urbanization, increased education, legislative measures, social reform in the caste system, and social.

4. Write a few lines on Indian culture?

Few lines about Indian culture are:

The Indian civilization is one of the world's oldest civilizations, with many people still adhering to the civilization's conventions and practices, keeping it alive.

India is a country with thousands of civilizations, each with its own distinctive traits.

Religions in India have a profound and long-lasting influence on the country's culture and traditions.

The notion of "Atithi Devo Bhava," which holds that a guest is equal to god and should be treated with respect, is very important to Indians.

Holi, Diwali, Durga Pooja, Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, Guru Parab, Christmas, and many other festivals are celebrated throughout India.

5. What is the difference between Indian culture and western culture?

Some of the cultural contrasts between Indian and Western cultures are as follows:

The traditional mindset of people who live in India is known as Indian culture. It refers to India's customs, traditions, ceremonies, festivals, and religions. Whereas  The origins of Western civilization may be traced back to Ancient Greece and Rome, which extended throughout the world under Roman authority. It was supported by European civilization at the time, and it now refers to a modern way of thinking.

One of the world's oldest cultures is Indian culture. The traditions trace back millennia. Whereas historical records show that western civilization began with Ancient Greece and Rome, many people regard it as modern culture.

  • About the New York Fed
  • Bank Leadership
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Communities We Serve
  • Board of Directors
  • Disclosures
  • Ethics and Conflicts of Interest
  • Annual Financial Statements
  • News & Events
  • Advisory Groups
  • Vendor Information
  • Holiday Schedule

At the New York Fed, our mission is to make the U.S. economy stronger and the financial system more stable for all segments of society. We do this by executing monetary policy, providing financial services, supervising banks and conducting research and providing expertise on issues that impact the nation and communities we serve.

New York Innovation Center

Introducing the New York Innovation Center: Delivering a central bank innovation execution

Information Requests

Do you have a request for information and records? Learn how to submit it.

Gold Vault

Learn about the history of the New York Fed and central banking in the United States through articles, speeches, photos and video.

  • Markets & Policy Implementation
  • Reference Rates
  • Effective Federal Funds Rate
  • Overnight Bank Funding Rate
  • Secured Overnight Financing Rate
  • SOFR Averages & Index
  • Broad General Collateral Rate
  • Tri-Party General Collateral Rate
  • Desk Operations
  • Treasury Securities
  • Agency Mortgage-Backed Securities
  • Reverse Repos
  • Securities Lending
  • Central Bank Liquidity Swaps
  • System Open Market Account Holdings
  • Primary Dealer Statistics
  • Historical Transaction Data
  • Monetary Policy Implementation
  • Agency Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities
  • Agency Debt Securities
  • Repos & Reverse Repos
  • Discount Window
  • Treasury Debt Auctions & Buybacks as Fiscal Agent
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Foreign Reserves Management
  • Central Bank Swap Arrangements
  • Statements & Operating Policies
  • Survey of Primary Dealers
  • Survey of Market Participants
  • Annual Reports
  • Primary Dealers
  • Standing Repo Facility Counterparties
  • Reverse Repo Counterparties
  • Foreign Exchange Counterparties
  • Foreign Reserves Management Counterparties
  • Operational Readiness
  • Central Bank & International Account Services
  • Programs Archive
  • Economic Research
  • Consumer Expectations & Behavior
  • Survey of Consumer Expectations
  • Household Debt & Credit Report
  • Home Price Changes
  • Growth & Inflation
  • Equitable Growth Indicators
  • Multivariate Core Trend Inflation
  • New York Fed DSGE Model
  • New York Fed Staff Nowcast
  • R-star: Natural Rate of Interest
  • Labor Market
  • Labor Market for Recent College Graduates
  • Financial Stability
  • Corporate Bond Market Distress Index
  • Outlook-at-Risk
  • Treasury Term Premia
  • Yield Curve as a Leading Indicator
  • Banking Research Data Sets
  • Quarterly Trends for Consolidated U.S. Banking Organizations
  • Empire State Manufacturing Survey
  • Business Leaders Survey
  • Supplemental Survey Report
  • Regional Employment Trends
  • Early Benchmarked Employment Data
  • Global Economic Indicators
  • Global Supply Chain Pressure Index
  • Staff Economists
  • Visiting Scholars
  • Resident Scholars
  • Liberty Street Economics
  • Staff Reports
  • Economic Policy Review
  • Applied Macroeconomics & Econometrics Center (AMEC)
  • Center for Microeconomic Data (CMD)
  • Economic Indicators Calendar
  • Financial Institution Supervision
  • Regulations
  • Reporting Forms
  • Correspondence
  • Bank Applications
  • Community Reinvestment Act Exams
  • Frauds and Scams

As part of our core mission, we supervise and regulate financial institutions in the Second District. Our primary objective is to maintain a safe and competitive U.S. and global banking system.

The Governance & Culture Reform

The Governance & Culture Reform hub is designed to foster discussion about corporate governance and the reform of culture and behavior in the financial services industry.

Need to file a report with the New York Fed?

Need to file a report with the New York Fed? Here are all of the forms, instructions and other information related to regulatory and statistical reporting in one spot.

Frauds and Scams

The New York Fed works to protect consumers as well as provides information and resources on how to avoid and report specific scams.

  • Financial Services & Infrastructure
  • Services For Financial Institutions
  • Payment Services
  • Payment System Oversight
  • International Services, Seminars & Training
  • Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure Reform
  • Managing Foreign Exchange
  • Money Market Funds
  • Over-The-Counter Derivatives

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.

Payment Services

The New York Fed provides a wide range of payment services for financial institutions and the U.S. government.

Specialized Courses

The New York Fed offers the Central Banking Seminar and several specialized courses for central bankers and financial supervisors.

Tri-party Infrastructure Reform

The New York Fed has been working with tri-party repo market participants to make changes to improve the resiliency of the market to financial stress.

  • Community Development & Education
  • Household Financial Well-being
  • Fed Communities
  • Fed Listens
  • Fed Small Business
  • Workforce Development
  • Other Community Development Work
  • High School Fed Challenge
  • College Fed Challenge
  • Teacher Professional Development
  • Classroom Visits
  • Museum & Learning Center Visits
  • Educational Comic Books
  • Economist Spotlight Series
  • Lesson Plans and Resources
  • Economic Education Calendar

Our Community Development Strategy

We are connecting emerging solutions with funding in three areas—health, household financial stability, and climate—to improve life for underserved communities. Learn more by reading our strategy.

Economic Inequality & Equitable Growth

The Economic Inequality & Equitable Growth hub is a collection of research, analysis and convenings to help better understand economic inequality.

Government and Culture Reform

Culture and Conduct in 2024: An Update from the New York Fed

Thank you, Harry, for your kind introduction, and for welcoming me back to the Culture and Conduct Deep Dive. And welcome to everyone who is participating from around the world.

Before I begin, I should note that the views I express today are my own and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System.

I lead the New York Fed's  Governance & Culture Reform Initiative —an effort we started 10 years ago this year, with the aim of focusing the attention of the financial services industry on organizational culture and its role in shaping risk outcomes. Looking back on the decade of our work, and the interactions we have had with both financial institutions and an interdisciplinary collection of experts who are focused on culture, I think it is accurate to say that, together, we have seen some real progress.

For instance, changes occurring in the broader environment – especially the rise of remote and hybrid work – have normalized and given urgency to the conversation around organizational culture.  Culture has evolved from a somewhat nebulous topic to one that is considered a central component of risk management and business success. Looking ahead, technological advances promise to enhance how culture data are collected and interpreted, thereby supporting better diagnosis and interventions, and more desirable outcomes. We are encouraged by these developments, and we also recognize that there are still numerous challenges ahead.

Today I will talk about the three strategic channels or “pillars” through which the culture initiative achieves its mission, and some of the key insights we’ve gained over the past year through engagement with representatives from the financial services industry and others.

The New York Fed’s Culture Initiative

The first pillar, Awareness and Dialogue , supports the public conversation by convening industry professionals, regulators, academics, and experts in a wide range of fields to explore the relationship between organizational culture and behavior.  We produce webinars and podcasts, and on Tuesday May 21st, we will host our in-person culture conference. Some of the issues the conference will address include accountability and incentives, culture measurement, and “future thinking.” There, we will explore how firms can address the overconfidence, blind spots and hubris that can get in the way of imagining what could go wrong in the future, in periods when growth comes easily and when it’s hard won.

The second pillar, Education and Research , includes our Education and Industry Forum—the EIF. This committee brings together representatives from academia and industry to integrate ethical decision-making into the education of the next generation of the financial services workforce.

And the third pillar of our initiative is focused on Supervision & Governance. This includes the Supervisors Roundtable for Governance Effectiveness, where we, along with supervisors and regulators from around the world, gather to advance collaboration and innovation in governance, behavior, and culture supervision.

Insights from the Past Year

One lesson from all this work concerns the importance of culture measurement and assessment and the vital role it plays in driving change. Forums like this one provide important opportunities to learn about advances in assessment practices, for instance how technology can help to derive data from new sources, such as natural language processing and network analysis. Such tools provide real-time feedback and indications of trends—more than occasional “snapshots” that can, without the right context, give misleading impressions. Qualitative evidence—anecdotes and other feedback gathered through focus groups, interviews, and other more people- and time-intensive techniques—continue to round out the picture created by the numbers. In my view, the stories we tell each other remain the best means of understanding and passing along an organization’s culture.

Apart from assessment, my colleagues and I continue to observe that communication with employees is an essential tool in managing culture. Organizations that articulate expectations for risk culture in clear language help employees understand its benefits. I mentioned already the importance of stories. Tying those anecdotes to common goals, key processes, and risk indicators helps make organizational expectations more tangible and relatable on a personal level. Importantly, explaining the “why” of risk culture motivates employees to apply their own informed judgement rather than implement a rigid directive.

Communication in the other direction—bottom-up, that is—remains important too.  Here, trust and psychological safety are paramount.  Creating channels for speaking up are necessary, but not sufficient.  Employees need to feel comfortable telling others what’s on their minds. One way to encourage speaking up is to normalize it. Make it “what we do around here.” For example, groups concerned with risk management can integrate conversations about risk into daily routines. Risks don’t only need to be discussed when something has gone wrong—and understandably, very human fear or blame can have a chilling effect on open, honest communication. Applying a common, everyday framework for discussing risks when things go right – and when they don’t - bolsters an effective risk culture by making the discussion just “something we do.”

Managers also play a key role in this process. It is vital for those who daily work alongside staff and create the immediate culture to lead by example. Encourage these “culture carriers” within your organization to share stories and normalize speaking up about risk.

Finally, another lesson emphasized within the last year is that non-financial incentives are powerful motivators for employees to go ‘above and beyond’ job requirements. These include gratitude and recognition by more senior leadership; the self-respect and self-governance that comes from having greater autonomy in business judgments; a feeling of empowerment that reflects an organization’s trust and, in turn, further links an individual to a group; and having opportunities for innovation, learning, skill development and career growth. In particular, understanding how one’s role adds value to the organization’s purpose and impact is a powerful motivator.

My colleagues and I launched the New York Fed’s Culture Initiative 10 years ago because we saw misconduct increasing across the industry.  When we examined these incidents closely, we concluded that industry norms were partly to blame.  We recognized that regulation and enforcement alone would not provide solutions.  Each and together, banks needed to pay attention to how culture influences choices and behavior.  Ten years later, we remain steadfast in supporting progress toward stronger, healthier cultures in the financial services industry.

I am heartened that so many members of the industry see culture as an important component of its success. I encourage your efforts to make progress and build healthier cultures in finance on a global scale.


  • Request a Speaker
  • International Seminars & Training
  • Governance & Culture Reform
  • Data Visualization
  • Economic Research Tracker
  • Markets Data APIs
  • Terms of Use

Federal Reserve Bank Seal

To combat bullying and extremism, Air Force Academy turns to social media sleuthing

culture of speech

After years of internal and external alarms that the military isn’t doing enough to address hate and extremism , an obscure federal contract may suggest a new approach: monitoring the social media of Air Force Academy cadets, staffers − and anyone else around the campus.

Last month, the Air Force struck a contract for digital monitoring to identify hate speech, cyberbullying, sexual harassment and extremism at its Colorado Springs academy. The goal is to “combat cadet conduct in digital mediums that has the potential to negatively impact culture and climate.”

Monitoring the posts of the more than 4,000 cadets aligns with efforts elsewhere to screen disinformation and hate speech; other universities plus police agencies and many employers make comparable efforts. But the contract’s extension to the campus community led some experts to raise concerns about whether the effort could violate privacy for military or civilian users.

And while Air Force Officials say there are no plans to replicate the program elsewhere in the military, experts on surveillance worry about the contract’s open-ended wording and sweeping focus.

At $273,500 total, it's unclear just how far-reaching the effort will become. The contract focuses mainly on a social media system used at the school but requires that monitoring shift to other major platforms such as YouTube or TikTok if misconduct shifts to those areas. The contractor, Miami Beach-based 3Gimbals LLC, did not respond to requests for comment. 

The program came as a surprise to experts on extremism in the military, including Bishop Garrison, who led a Pentagon working group that made more than 20 extremism-related recommendations for the armed forces in 2021 .

“This is not something we covered, and it’s not something I’ve ever heard about happening in the military,” Garrison said. Referencing the constitutional protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, he added: “I think this will need to be thoroughly reviewed because it has the potential to be a Fourth Amendment issue and may potentially infringe on key privacy protections.”

The week in extremism: This social media network set the stage for Jan. 6, then was taken offline. Now it's back

Protecting academy culture, or infringing on constitutional rights?

The social media monitoring contract, which will last one year with a possibility to extend another six months, was awarded Feb. 13, according to the federal government’s System for Award Management website. The effort is part of “a larger cultural concern at the Air Force Academy that is captured under a larger campaign,” said Thomas Torkelson, deputy director of the Air Force Academy’s Center for Character & Leadership Development, who leads the program.

The goal of monitoring social media is to educate cadets, prevent them from spreading harmful material online and respond when someone is posting content that academy leaders consider harmful to the base’s culture, Torkelson said. That includes identifying people who post inappropriately and, if necessary, holding them accountable for any criminal activity witnessed by the monitoring company, he said.

“It’s not about trying to infringe upon First Amendment or Fourth Amendment rights,” Torkelson said. “In fact, it’s trying to protect Fourth Amendment rights.” 

Torkelson cited the hypothetical example of a cadet who posts derogatory information about a sexual assault victim on social media. The monitoring program would flag the post so it could be quickly removed, thus protecting the victim’s right to privacy, he said.

The Air Force, like the other branches of the service, has struggled with extremism and online misconduct. A federal affidavit unsealed this week revealed that an Air Force security analyst had been suspected of obtaining classified material and leaking it online , including on the gaming site Discord. While that analyst, Jason Gray, was not apparently an Academy cadet, his case was reminiscent of an even larger case that led to charges against Air Force National Guard member Jack Teixeira. And Gray's interest in the Boogaloo movement , which espouses a second civil war in the U.S., points to larger concerns about how military members can turn their training and classified knowledge toward extremism.

But experts in surveillance have serious concerns about the Air Force Academy’s new approach.

Air Force Academy aims to monitor the Jodel app, a hyperlocal social system

Ryan Shapiro, executive director of the open-government group Property of the People who holds a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focusing on government surveillance, said he’s particularly troubled by the scope and scale of the Air Force Academy’s new contract.

Public documents outlining the program are not precise about who, or what, will be monitored, he said. Monitoring is primarily focused on an anonymous hyperlocal social media site called Jodel, which people on and around the academy can use to make public posts, similar to Reddit. Jodel did not respond to a USA TODAY inquiry about the monitoring effort. 

But the contract also allows for the monitoring of “other social media platforms,” according to its Performance Work Statement. 

The program also is ostensibly aimed at monitoring the social media activity of cadets, but Torkelson acknowledged that anybody using Jodel or any other social media in the geographical vicinity of the academy also could be targeted. 

“The program’s expansive scope reeks of calculated ambiguity,” Shapiro said. “It appears custom-made to serve as a vehicle for the policing of dissent, not just of military personnel but also the broader public.

“That’s deeply disturbing.”

Some Republican members of Congress have criticized the military’s efforts to combat extremism, calling it a witch hunt and a waste of the military’s time and money. 

USA TODAY contacted half a dozen Republican members of the Congressional Armed Services Committee − the body responsible for crafting the legislation that funds the military each year − but none would comment for this story.

Shapiro noted the AIr Force Academy’s new program isn’t the first time a military establishment has sought to police the speech of enlisted personnel. Last year, The Intercept reported on a shadowy Pentagon unit called the Protective Services Battalion, which trawls through social media searching for posts from service members that might embarrass current and former top military brass.

Nor is social media monitoring limited to the armed forces and enlisted personnel. As USA TODAY reported in 2022 , the FBI has in place an extensive social media monitoring program known as SOMEX, which is constantly spying on American citizens and searching for posts that might indicate extremism views or activity.

Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the new Air Force Academy monitoring contract also aligns with efforts by private companies and institutions to keep track of what their employees are posting on social media.  

“We are living in a time when employers, schools, and universities are surveilling their employees and students at unprecedented levels which often include, not just emails or internet traffic conducted on company devices, but also social media use including outside of work/school hours,” Guariglia told USA TODAY. “For that reason and considering the attention the military has gotten for extremism in its ranks, it’s not a major surprise that the Air Force Academy would contract a company like this.”

Despite the extent of social media surveillance in American working life, it remains apparently rare within the military ranks – the same group that experts have found are more than twice as likely to become involved in fatal extremist activity.

The Air Force Academy has always been responsible for shaping cadets into well-rounded, responsible members of society, Torkelson said. Today, with social media playing a large role in many people’s lives − especially young people − the academy has to respond to that reality and adjust its policies and procedures to accommodate new societal trends, he said.

“The academy’s mission is to develop leaders of character ready to serve their nation,” Torkelson said. “It’s a character thread that we’re trying to educate them on − what’s the proper way to behave in an anonymous digital space − that’s it.”

But Guariglia noted the same concerns voiced by Shapiro: that the Air Force Academy contract seems extraordinarily open-ended:

“The concern here, as always, is mission creep,” he said, “the idea that a program designed to find serious threats might be used to penalize people for their beliefs, associations or creative expression.”

Monitoring contract will create training for cadets, leadership

The contract for the Air Force doesn’t just cover monitoring. It also calls for training modules for senior academy staff to teach cadets about social media use.

The training should be for 18- to 24-year-olds and focus on all social media platforms, “geared towards 18-24-year olds’ online conduct on all social media platforms,” the Performance Work Statement says, and will be used by about 4,400 cadets.

Torkelson said the training element is a key reason for the social media monitoring. The idea is for 3Gimbals LLC to spend a year tracking what cadets and staff post online, then use the company’s findings to craft its training sessions, two of which will be held throughout the year, he said. 

“It’s not about policing, it’s not about rooting out bad actors,” he said. “It’s about educating the entire population on what being a leader of character looks like.”

Shapiro was skeptical.

There are plenty of organizations and companies that already provide social media training for establishments like the Air Force Academy, he said. Indeed, the academy already has an extensive social media guide for cadets.

“Most large corporations and universities have social media trainings for their people, and they don’t include mass surveillance as a requirement of the trainings,” Shapiro said. “It’s quite possible to run a social media seminar without having spied on the entire community first.”

Will Carless is a national correspondent covering extremism and emerging issues. Contact him at [email protected] . Follow him on X @willcarless.

culture of speech

The world’s largest Māori and Pacific Island school cultural festival – in pictures

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email

Polyfest, held this week in Auckland, New Zealand, saw thousands of high school students gather to compete in music, dance and speech performances

Fri 22 Mar 2024 23.00 GMT

Photograph: Becki Moss/The Guardian

Kaidan Liuvaie from Alfriston College speaks at the ‘ASB PolyFest and Ministry for Pacific Peoples Niue Stage Speech Competition’.

Photograph: Becki Moss/For The Guardian

Dilworth School performs on the Samoan stage. As the Polyfest competition grew, it moved to the Manukau Sports Bowl, which allowed space for more stages, bigger crowds and hundreds of food stalls from a diverse range of cultures.

  • New Zealand
  • Photography
  • Asia Pacific
  • Music festivals
  • Pacific islands

More galleries

Most popular.

No More Best Supporting Actress Curse

Da’Vine Joy Randolph was grateful to win an Academy Award—and hopeful that it won’t be her last opportunity.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph at the 2024 Academy Awards

You know you’ve delivered an Oscars speech for the history books when your fellow nominees are getting teary. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who won the Best Supporting Actress trophy tonight for her work in The Holdovers , spoke about her career with such earnest passion that she received no shortage of weepy faces from her competitors: Jodie Foster could be seen welling up, as could America Ferrera.

Randolph thanked her mother, her acting teacher, and even her publicist—a funny role reversal. But as she directed her appreciation toward specific people in her life, her speech also acknowledged the rarity of an ascendance like hers—to win an Oscar after wondering if there were a future in acting for her, as a curvy Black actress. “For so long, I’ve always wanted to be different,” Randolph said. “And now I realize I just need to be myself, and I thank you for seeing me.”

It was a great Oscars speech—sentimental without being cloying, personal while still being resonant. But what made it more than a memorable moment was something Randolph said toward the end: “I pray to God that I get to do this more than once.”

Randolph, who was speaking through tears about her own experience, probably didn’t mean for the line to be a warning to those in the room. Yet Hollywood has a long history of celebrating new or underappreciated faces in the Best Supporting Actress category—only for their career to either stall or fail to reach similar heights afterward. Consider the category’s presenters: Five previous winners were onstage to introduce the nominees, a format that the Oscars hasn’t used since 2009. Lupita Nyong’o, who spoke about Randolph, won an Oscar 10 years ago for 12 Years a Slave but did not lead a film until five years later, in 2019’s Us . Meanwhile, Regina King, who won the Oscar in 2019 for If Beale Street Could Talk and spoke about Danielle Brooks’s performance in The Color Purple , is finally leading a film, the upcoming Shirley Chisholm biopic.

Read: And the Best Oscars Acceptance Speech goes to …

This phenomenon has been called the “ Best Supporting Actress Curse ,” and although it doesn’t apply to every winner, it has seemed to strike women such as Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Hudson, Kim Basinger, and Mo’Nique, all of whom struggled to land meaty parts in movies after taking home the award. There might be nothing conspiratorial about such woes—the category tends to reward ingenues and Hollywood newcomers, and nothing guarantees a robust movie career, not even a shining moment as bright as Oscars success. Some actresses take other routes too: After her win, for instance, King directed her first feature film. Yet taking home one of the industry’s most prestigious awards might seem to indicate that an actress is one worth paying attention to, making it more conspicuous when she’s seemingly nowhere to be seen, or limited to more supporting parts.

I don’t mean to get all serious about Randolph’s victory, or introduce some doubt about what might come next for her. But her closing words don’t need to be only those of an actress hoping for her next great part. They can be a reminder—especially to those at the Oscars with the power to make such decisions—to expand the possibilities available to performers of all kinds. Her trophy is already a validation of her talent; let us keep seeing that talent on the screen.

Get JTA's Daily Briefing in your inbox

I accept the JTA Privacy Policy .

By submitting the above I agree to the privacy policy and terms of use of

‘Zone of Interest’ producer calls Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech a ‘distraction,’ as Auschwitz memorial defends it

A man holds an Oscar

( JTA ) — A Jewish executive producer of the Oscar-winning Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest” said he disagreed with director Jonathan Glazer’s speech at the Academy Awards ceremony criticizing Israel, while the Auschwitz Memorial issued a statement in its defense.

They were the latest reactions in what has become a prolonged firestorm over Glazer’s remarks Sunday. While accepting the best international feature award, the British Jewish filmmaker declared that he and his producers were “men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people, whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza.”

Two of the film’s producers were standing on stage with Glazer: James WIlson, who previously criticized the Israel-Hamas war when accepting an award for the film, and Len Blavatnik, a pro-Israel Ukrainian whose spokesperson declined to comment about Glazer but said he is a steadfast supporter of Israel.

Now, at least one other producer associated with the film has weighed in: Danny Cohen, who appeared Thursday on a Jewish podcast to register his disagreement with the speech and call it a “distraction” from the film’s merits.

“I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan on this,” Cohen, a former TV executive at the British Broadcasting Corporation, told journalists Yonit Levi and Jonathan Freedland, the hosts of the podcast “UnHoly: Two Jews on the News.”  

“My support for Israel is unwavering,” Cohen continued. He called Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza “the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization which continues to hold and abuse the hostages and which doesn’t use its tunnels to protect the innocent civilians of Gaza but uses it to hide themselves and to allow Palestinians to die.” 

A Nazi commander looks at his family's garden in the shadow of Auschwitz in a scene from "The Zone of Interest"

A scene from Jonathan Glazer’s film “The Zone of Interest” (Courtesy of A24)

The film itself, which won two Oscars, focuses on fictionalized versions of the Nazi Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his family , who carry on their normal lives while living next door to the death camps.

In light of its themes, Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League and an organization representing Holocaust survivors in the U.S. have been harshly critical of Glazer’s speech, accusing him of inappropriately comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. A former advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the director a “self-hating Jew.” (Glazer has not issued any public comments since the Oscars.)

Cohen didn’t go that far, noting that Glazer had the right to say what he wants. But he emphasized that he held a different view.

“I think that the war is tragic and awful and this loss of civilian life is awful, but I blame Hamas for that,” said Cohen, who said Glazer had coordinated his speech with Wilson. “And I think any discussion of the war without saying that for me lacks the proper context that any discussion about the war from my perspective should have.”

For Cohen, who recently spoke out against what he said has been systemic antisemitism at the BBC since the Oct. 7 attacks , Glazer’s comments distracted from the accomplishments of the film itself and could deter those who might have embraced it as a new tool of Holocaust education if not for the political firestorm.

“The film is an extraordinary triumph of filmmaking,” he said. “It’s one of the most remarkable films in decades, one of the truly great films about the Holocaust, and will survive as such for decades. And I think the discussion this week, and this moment of great recognition for the film with two Academy Awards, is not about the film but it’s about the speech. Jon spent 10 years making the film and has made something remarkable, but people are talking more this week about what he said for 30 seconds.”

Yet even as Cohen took Glazer’s speech to task, another major voice in the debate has also weighed in — supporting Glazer. On Thursday the director of the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum in Poland, where Glazer shot portions of the film and where he recently delivered a speech , posted a statement in the filmmaker’s defense to social media.

“In his Oscar acceptance speech, Jonathan Glazer issued a universal moral warning against dehumanization. His aim was not to descend to the level of political discourse,” Piotr M.A. Cywiński wrote . “Critics who expected a clear political stance or a film solely about genocide did not grasp the depth of his message.”

Cywiński did not specifically address Israel in his statement, but concluded, “‘The Zone of Interest’ is not a film about the Shoah. It is primarily a profound warning about humanity and its nature.”

Share this:

Recommended from jta.

A scene from "The Frisco Kid" with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford

‘Remembering Gene Wilder’ documentary salutes a Jewish comedy legend

culture of speech

Is Louis Vuitton selling pro-Palestinian T-shirts for $800? Social media and fashion industry norms are divided.

culture of speech

Kate Middleton’s woes cast a spotlight on Jewish Sassoon family’s Chinese history

Empty chairs in a movie theater

Canadian Jewish federation ‘dismayed’ by theater’s decision to postpone Jewish film festival over security fears

culture of speech

The New York Public Library’s Jewish division digitized 800 years of Jewish history

culture of speech

Amy Sherman-Palladino, Eli Roth among 1,200+ Jewish creatives rejecting Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech

Every Word of Emma Stone’s 2024 Best Actress Oscars Speech: ‘It’s Not About Me’

preview for A Look Back at Emma Stone’s Impressive Career

Emma Stone is officially a two-time Best Actress winner—and she used her speech to turn the focus on all the people who worked with her on Poor Things .

“Yorgos [Lanthimos, Poor Things ’ director] said to me, ‘Please take yourself out of it,’ and he was right, because it’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about a team that came together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. And that is the best part about making movies, is all of us together. And I am so deeply honored to share this with every cast member, with every crew member, with every single person who poured their love and their care and their brilliance into the making of this film.”

She also gave her family, including her husband, Dave McCary, and daughter, a shout-out at the end of her speech. “I really just want to thank my family, my mom, my brother, Spencer, my dad, my husband, Dave. I love you so much,” she said. “And most importantly, my daughter, who’s gonna be three in three days and has turned our lives technicolor. I love you bigger than the whole sky, my girl. So thank you so much. Don’t look at the back of my dress. Thank you.”

Stone, who first won the award in 2017 for La La Land , took home the honor again for her work in Poor Things .

Here, her full remarks:

Hoo boy, my dress is broken. I think it happened during “I’m Just Ken.” I’m pretty sure. Oh, boy, this is really, this is really overwhelming. Sorry. My voice is also a little gone, whatever! The women on the stage, you are all incredible, and the women in this category: Sandra [Hüller], Annette [Bening], Carey [Mulligan], Lily [Gladstone], I share this with you. I am in awe of you, and it has been such an honor to do all of this together. I hope we get to keep doing more together. I don’t know what I’m saying. Oh my God, I’m totally—OK, the other night I was panicking as you can kind of see—it happens a lot—that maybe something like this could happen. And Yorgos [Lanthimos, Poor Things ’ director] said to me, “Please take yourself out of it,” and he was right, because it’s not about me. It’s about a team that came together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. And that is the best part about making movies, is all of us together. And I am so deeply honored to share this with every cast member, with every crew member, with every single person who poured their love and their care and their brilliance into the making of this film. And Yorgos, thank you for the gift of a lifetime in Bella Baxter. I am forever thankful for you. Thank you for inviting all of us to be members of this team. Thank you. Oh, wait, I just—I know I have to wrap up, but I really just want to thank my family, my mom, my brother, Spencer, my dad, my husband, Dave [McCary]. I love you so much. And most importantly, my daughter who’s gonna be three in three days and has turned our lives technicolor. I love you bigger than the whole sky, my girl. So thank you so much. Don't look at the back of my dress. Thank you.

Watch her speech below:

emma stone and jennifer lawrence at the oscars

Stone opened up about the rehearsal process for Poor Things and contrasted it to her experience working on La La Land in a February interview with Variety .

“For La La Land , we did a ton of rehearsals for a very long time, but it was very specific: dancing and singing,” Stone said. “But when Yorgos was talking about rehearsal, I didn’t know what exactly that entailed. And it turns out that his rehearsals, they have nothing to do with what you’ll ultimately do on the day. But what it does, I think, subconsciously or in a subterranean way, is it lets everybody feel very comfortable with each other. You’re playing a lot of games.”

“I loved it. I loved it. Yeah,” Stone added of the process. “And I realized by the time that we were on set, we all felt very close to each other. We had all gotten to know each other in a much more intimate way than we would’ve if we’d just been blocking and saying our lines over and over.”

Oscars 2024 Guide

eternals red carpet 16th rome film fest 2021

Why Michelle Gave J.Law Emma's Oscar

kendall jenner

Kendall Jenner Wore Sheer Corset Dress Out

anya taylor joy at the 2024 oscar after party

Anya Taylor-Joy Wears LBD to Oscar After-Party

margot robbie at the 2024 vanity fair after party

Margot Robbie Wears Mugler to VF Oscar Party

a woman posing for a picture

Kim K and EmRata Match at Oscar After-Party

timothee chalamet and kylie jenner

Why Timothée Didn’t Join Kylie at Oscar Parties

lupita nyongo

Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscars Getting-Ready Diary

2024 vanity fair oscar party hosted by radhika jones arrivals

Florence Pugh Went Braless at Oscar Party

jennifer lawrence at the 2024 vanity fair after party

Jennifer Goes Regency at Oscar After-Party

emma stone and dave mccary at 2024 vanity fair oscar party

Emma Stone Changed Into Second Dress

taylor swift and travis kelce

Taylor and Travis Secretly Attended Oscar Party


  1. Creating a Culture of Conversation and Listening

    culture of speech

  2. 11 Best Ways To Develop Your Public Speaking Skills

    culture of speech

  3. Indian Culture Speech

    culture of speech

  4. Speech Culture презентация, доклад, проект

    culture of speech

  5. (PDF) The culture of speeches: Public speaking across cultures

    culture of speech

  6. The concept of a culture of speech, the criteria and qualities of good

    culture of speech


  1. Speech 1 (Informative Speech)

  2. Speech 2 (Public Speaking)

  3. Verbal Communication in Classroom Culture Speech

  4. co culture speech

  5. Co-culture speech

  6. Culture Speech


  1. The power of language: How words shape people, culture

    The power of language: How words shape people, culture. Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. Studying ...

  2. 6.3 Language, Community, and Culture

    Describe how people code-switch among speech communities. While language is critical to individual human thought, its basic function is to communicate messages in human communities. That is, language is fundamentally social. Through social interaction, humans learn the language of their community. And through language, humans express community ...

  3. PDF The culture of speeches: Public speaking across cultures

    Power, Mary R. and Galvin, Camille (1997) "The culture of speeches: Public speaking across cultures," Culture Mandala: The Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 2. This Article is brought to you by the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies at ePublications@bond.

  4. Language and Culture

    The prominence of ethnographic studies focusing on speech in language and culture began in the 1960s with Dell Hymes's study of language use. Hymes, who was trained in anthropology and linguistics, sought to understand speech patterns, functions, and speaking in situatedness. He departed from microlinguistics (which focuses on semantics, turn ...

  5. Vocal communication across cultures: theoretical and methodological

    1. Introduction. Research on vocal communication is burgeoning, but few areas have grown as dramatically as cross-cultural investigations. In particular, voice researchers are beginning to extend their empirical reach into small-scale societies, and access populations that can potentially enhance our understanding of the complex relationship between universal patterns and cultural variations ...

  6. Cultural Responsiveness

    Cultural responsiveness involves understanding and appropriately including and responding to the combination of cultural variables and the full range of dimensions of diversity that an individual brings to interactions.Cultural responsiveness requires valuing diversity, seeking to further cultural knowledge, and working toward the creation of community spaces and workspaces where diversity is ...

  7. Understanding Cultural Differences in Public Speaking

    Importance of Understanding Cultural Differences in Public Speaking. Understanding cultural differences in public speaking is essential for effective communication and audience engagement. Cultural communication styles, nonverbal cues, values, and beliefs can greatly impact how a message is received, making it crucial to adapt and tailor one ...


    The culture of speech is a quality that a person may strive for, and oratory is an innate ability given by God. The speech culture is the education of heart and morality. If the speech culture is ...

  9. The culture of speeches: Public speaking across cultures

    Abstract. Extract: Public speaking is taught in Australian universities to local students and to students from Asian countries studying in this country. The advice given to students about public ...

  10. The Importance of Free Speech Culture

    A free speech culture is a set of cultural norms rooted in older democratic values. Buying into a free speech culture requires a recommitment to old idioms like "Everyone is entitled to their ...


    Culture of speech is a set of skills, competencies, and knowledge that enables the use of language in a purposeful and effective manner, and selects the most appropriate for thought from the various means of expression available in the language, depending on its capabilities. is the skill of knowing and composing beautiful ...

  12. Chapter 6: Culture

    Define culture and describe personal, social, and cultural identities. Summarize non-dominant and dominant identity development. Define the social constructionist view of culture and identity. Discuss how each of the four cultural identities discussed affects and/or relates to communication. Define intercultural communication and list the six ...

  13. Freedom of Speech as a Cultural Holdover

    Constitutionalized freedom of speech is, at this point, a holdover from a time3 in which supportive cultural beliefs and values sufficiently underwrote our protective free speech jurisprudence.4 The traditional grounds upon which freedom of speech was constitutionally prioritized.

  14. Speech Acts Across Cultures

    This book investigates the notion of Speech Act from a cross-cultural perspective. The starting point for this book is the assumption that speech acts are realized from culture to culture in different ways and that these differences may result in communication difficulties that range from the humorous to the serious. Importantly, a recurring theme in this volume has to do with the need to ...

  15. How Americans feel about 'cancel culture,' offensive speech

    Americans have long debated the boundaries of free speech, from what is and isn't protected by the First Amendment to discussions about "political correctness" and, more recently, "cancel culture." The internet has amplified these debates and fostered new questions about tone and tenor in recent years. Here's a look at how adults in the United States see these and related issues ...

  16. Culture of speech: the subject and discipline problems in foreign

    Speech culture of the society has the selection, collection and storage of the best examples of speech activity, the formation of literary classics and adherence to the norms of the literary language. This understanding of speech culture adheres Yu.V. Rozhdestvensky [3, p.14]

  17. How October 7 Changed America's Free-Speech Culture

    America's free-speech culture is in sudden flux and some peril. Since October 7, when Hamas launched an attack that included killing, raping, and kidnapping, the Israel-Palestine debate has been ...

  18. 6.4 Intercultural Communication

    Intercultural communication is communication between people with differing cultural identities. One reason we should study intercultural communication is to foster greater self-awareness (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). Our thought process regarding culture is often "other focused," meaning that the culture of the other person or group is what ...

  19. Vygotsky's Theory of Cognitive Development

    Vygotsky's theory comprises concepts such as culture-specific tools, private speech, and the zone of proximal development. Vygotsky believed cognitive development is influenced by cultural and social factors. He emphasized the role of social interaction in the development of mental abilities e.g., speech and reasoning in children.

  20. Cultural Day speech

    Cultural Day speech - "The brave do not abandon their culture" Culture is the total way of life that people in the society are blessed with. Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Through culture we are governed by norms and customs ...

  21. Speech on Culture [1, 2, 3, 5 Minutes]

    5 Minutes Speech on Culture. Dear teachers and students! Greetings to all. and thank you to all of you to give me chance to give a speech. One of the most crucial components of human society is culture. It influences our thoughts, behaviours, and interpersonal interactions. The beliefs, practises, social norms, and traditions that make up our ...

  22. Culture

    Culture, therefore, is the name given to a class of things and events dependent upon symboling (i.e., articulate speech) that are considered in a kind of extra-human context. Universalist approaches to culture and the human mind. Culture, as noted above, is due to an ability possessed by man alone.

  23. Indian Culture Speech in English For Students

    This format of speech on Indian Culture is of 500-words that can be delivered as a 5-minute speech and it is helpful for students in grades 8-12. Good morning everyone, respected Principal, Teachers and my fellow students, I am XYZ (mention your name) here to deliver a speech on Indian culture. Let's first understand the meaning of culture.

  24. Culture and Conduct in 2024: An Update from the New York Fed

    Culture has evolved from a somewhat nebulous topic to one that is considered a central component of risk management and business success. Looking ahead, technological advances promise to enhance how culture data are collected and interpreted, thereby supporting better diagnosis and interventions, and more desirable outcomes.

  25. At Air Force Academy, a social media monitoring plan raises questions

    Last month, the Air Force struck a contract for digital monitoring to identify hate speech, cyberbullying, sexual harassment and extremism at its Colorado Springs academy. The goal is to "combat ...

  26. The world's largest Māori and Pacific Island school cultural festival

    Polyfest, held this week in Auckland, New Zealand, saw thousands of high school students gather to compete in music, dance and speech performances

  27. Da'Vine Joy Randolph's Knockout Oscars Speech

    Culture. No More Best Supporting Actress Curse. ... It was a great Oscars speech—sentimental without being cloying, personal while still being resonant. But what made it more than a memorable ...

  28. 'Zone of Interest' producer calls Jonathan Glazer's Oscars speech a

    On Thursday the director of the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum in Poland, where Glazer shot portions of the film and where he recently delivered a speech, posted a statement in the filmmaker's ...

  29. Read Emma Stone's 2024 Best Actress Oscars Speech

    Emma Stone is officially a two-time Best Actress winner—and she used her speech to turn the focus on all the people who worked with her on Poor Things. "Yorgos [Lanthimos, Poor Things ...

  30. Mental health culture has gone too far, says Mel Stride

    Britain's approach to mental health is in danger of having "gone too far" and "normal anxieties of life" are being labelled as an illness, the Work and Pensions Secretary has warned.