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Language Learning - The Culture Adaptation and Culture Shock Cycle

The Culture Adaptation and Culture Shock Cycle affect individuals who have come from another foreign country and are being introduced to a new cultural experience with the intention of returning to their own home culture. This means that they have to adapt to new language, new culture and new people.

These individuals have to go through seven different phases altogether with both the cultural adaptation and culture shock cycle combined. This will include:

1.    Pre-departure anxiety
2.    Honeymoon arrival
3.    Initial culture shock
4.    Adjustment period
5.    Mentally isolated
6.    Return anxiety
7.    Re-entry shock

There are some that will go through an acceptance phase where they feel welcomed and possibly will like some of the country’s customs and activities.

In the honeymoon arrival phase, there is some excitement of being in a new country, but also some anxiety and trepidation resulting from their pre-department anxiety and uncertainty.

If they are not satisfied with the culture of the new country, they will inherently reach a crisis period where the initial culture shock sets in. They are disappointed and feel mentally isolated. They may be experiencing problems with the adaptation process and start getting irritated, angry and sometimes outright rude.

If they are in a position to get their problems solved or feel like making the best of a bad situation, they will go into the adjustment phase and try to get rid of the negative thinking by accepting what they cannot change.

The time may come for them to return to their home country. Some will go through the return anxiety phase and the fear of what will happen once they get back home.

The re-entry shock phase follows as they return home to their country. In this phase, readjustment may be difficult and they may feel unaccepted.

Culture Shock

The five specific stages of culture shock are:

1.    Excitement at first
2.    Crisis
3.    Adjustment
4.    Acceptance and Adjustment
5.    Re-entry shock

There is limited communication for individuals that have to experience these five phases. This is why it is important for them to accept, adjust and adapt to their new surroundings.

Things that natives take for granted are very difficult for these individuals. Such things would include, meeting a new person on the street, shopping, or accepting an invitation to go somewhere.

A lot of them rely on facial expressions and gestures, which can be quite frustrating.

The different phases last as much time as the individual adapts to their new surroundings.

For example:

Honeymoon phase – will last about two weeks and up to six months
The crisis stage may last for up to three months


Some of the symptoms which individuals use or display as their coping mechanisms could be drinking, homesickness, crying, anger, anxious, impatient, over eating, or disgust. Making the best of an unusual situation in unfamiliar territory can be quite a challenge for most people.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 6:30 pm and is filed under Foreign Language, Language Learning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Language Learning - The Culture Adaptation and Culture Shock Cycle”

  1. Brady Tambasco Says:

    While this matter can be very tough for most people, my notion is that there has to be a middle or common ground that we all can find. I do treasure that you’ve added relevant and intelligent commentary here though. Very much thanks to you!

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