Module 1

Lesson 2: Reading


1. You are going to read a passage about culture shock. Read the whole passage quickly. Which stage of culture shock seems to be the most uncomfortable?

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  • Reading Passage 1 is usually a factual text.
  • You need to find specific information.
  • It is usually easier than the other parts, so it’s a good idea to do it first.

Australian culture and culture shock

Sometimes work, study or a sense of adventure take us out of our familiar surroundings to go and live in a different culture. The experience can be difficult, even shocking.

Almost everyone who studies, lives or works abroad has I problems adjusting to a new culture. This response is commonly: referred to as ‘culture shock’. Culture shock can be defined as ‘the physical and emotional discomfort a person experiences when entering a culture different from their own’ (Weaver, 1993).

For people moving to Australia, Price (2001) has identified certain values which may give rise to culture shock. Firstly, he argues that Australians place a high value on independence and personal choice. This means that a teacher or course tutor will not tell students what to do. but will give them a number of options and suggest they work out which one is the best in their circumstances. It also means that they are expected to take action if something goes wrong and seek out resources and support for themselves.

Australians are also prepared to accept a range of opinions rather than believing there is one truth. This means that in an educational setting, students will be expected to form their own opinions and defend the reasons for that point of view and the evidence for it.

Price also comments that Australians are uncomfortable with differences in status and hence idealise the idea of treating everyone equally. An illustration of this is that most adult Australians call each other by their first names. This concern with equality means that Australians are uncomfortable taking anything too seriously and are even ready to joke about themselves.

Australians believe that life should have a balance between work I and leisure time. As a consequence, some students may be critical of others who they perceive as doing nothing but study.

Australian notions of privacy mean that areas such as financial matters, appearance and relationships are only discussed with close friends. While people may volunteer such information, they may resent someone actually asking them unless the friendship is firmly established. Even then, it is considered very impolite to ask someone what they earn. With older people, it is also rude to ask how old they are, why they are not married or why they do not have children. It is also impolite to ask people how much they have paid for something, unless there is a very good reason for asking.

Kohls (1996) describes culture shock as a process of change marked by four basic stages. During the first stage, the new arrival is excited to be in a new place, so this is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon” stage. Like a tourist, they are intrigued by all the new sights and sounds, new smells and tastes of their surroundings. They may have some problems, but usually they accept them as just part of the novelty. At this point, it is the similarities that stand out, and it seems to the newcomer that people everywhere and their way of life are very much alike. This period of euphoria may last from a couple of weeks to a month, but the letdown is inevitable.

During the second stage, known as the ‘rejection’ stage, the newcomer starts to experience difficulties due to the differences between the new culture and the way they were accustomed to living. The initial enthusiasm turns into irritation, frustration, anger and depression, and these feelings may have the effect of people rejecting the new culture so that they notice only the things that cause them trouble, which they then complain about. In addition, they may feel homesick, bored, withdrawn and irritable during this period as well.

Fortunately, most people gradually learn to adapt to the new culture and move on to the third stage, known as ‘adjustment and reorientation’. During this stage a transition occurs to a new optimistic attitude. As the newcomer begins to understand more of the new culture, they are able to interpret some of the subtle cultural clues which passed by unnoticed earlier. Now things make more sense and the culture seems more familiar. As a result, they begin to develop problem-solving skills, and feelings of disorientation and anxiety no longer affect them.

In Kohls’s model, in the fourth stage, newcomers undergo a process of adaptation. They have settled into the new culture, and this results in a feeling of direction and self-confidence. They have accepted the new food, drinks, habits and customs and may even find themselves enjoying some of the very customs that bothered then so much previously. In addition, they realise that the new culture has good and bad things to offer and that no way is really better than another just different.

Questions 1-6
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?


True if the statement agrees with the information
False if the statement contradicts the information
Not given if there is no information on this

1. Australian teachers will suggest alternatives to students rather than offer one solution.  

2. In Australia, teachers will show interest in students’ personal circumstances.

3. Australians use people’s first names so that everyone feels their status is similar.

4. Students who study all the time may receive positive comments from their colleagues.

5. It is acceptable to discuss financial issues with people you do not know well.

6. Younger Australians tend to be friendlier than older Australians.

Questions 7-13

Complete the table below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.


Name Newcomers’ reaction to problems
Stage 1 7. They notice the 8. between different nationalities and cultures. They may experience this stage for up to 9.
Stage 2 Rejection They reject the new culture and lose the 10. they had at the beginning.
Stage 3 Adjustment and reorientation They can understand some 11. which they had not previously observed. They learn 12. for dealing with difficulties.
Stage 4 13. They enjoy some of the customs that annoyed them before.



2. Read the heading and the subheading from a Reading passage. 

The changing fortunes of Antarctic penguins

Robert Gates explains how climate change has started to affect the natural habitat of the Adélie penguin.

Think about the kinds of information that may be included in the passage. Then read the statements below and decide whether they are likely or unlikely to appear in the Reading passage. 

[ays_quiz id=”168″]

General ideas

3. Read the first sentence of each paragraph. What is each paragraph about? Choose the correct answers. 

The changing fortunes of Antarctic penguins

Robert Gates explains how climate change has started to affect the natural habitat of the Adélie penguin.

1. The effects of climate change are complex, with scientists constantly trying to understand how ecosystems are affected. …

2. Over the last five years, scientists have been examining the populations of different types of penguin that inhabit the Antarctic continent. …

3. Scientists say there are two main reasons for the population decline in this part of Ross Island. …

4. Elsewhere on Ross Island, in contrast to McMurdo Sound, the situation is more encouraging. …

[ays_quiz id=”169″]


4. Spend two to three minutes getting a general idea of each paragraph in the passage. Then choose the correct answers.


5. The key to paraphrasing is understanding synonyms and words or phrases with similar meaning. Match these words and expressions.


The file attached is for copying only. Please create your own file. DO NOT write anything in the file attached as other participant will be using it as well.



  1. William Randolph Hearst was a successful American newspaper publisher who received over 1,000 kmof land when his mother died in 1919. Initially, he had planned to build just a small bungalow, so he hired Julia Morgan, the first female architect in California. Together, however, they designed a magnificent castle which cost 10 million dollars and took 28 years to build. The property, named LoCuestoEncontodo (The Enchanted Mountain), has 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms and about 52,000 m2 of garden.
  2. Hearst loved travel ling to Europe when he was a child and we can see this in the overall design of the house. He even included cathedral ceilings and Roman columns in his home. Hearst was also a keen art collector and, during his lifetime, spent $3.5 million on his collection, which is displayed in the rooms at Hearst Castle. Today, his collection is worth much more, with one piece alone valued at $10 million.
  3. One of the highlights of the estate is the Neptune Pool. It took 15 years to build and includes the front of an ancient Roman temple. It is on top of a hill and has wonderful views of the mountains, ocean and main house. The pool was rebuilt three times until he was satisfied.
  4. Although the inside of the house is very European, the outside is very Californian, with palm trees and water. Hearst loved trees and 70,000 were planted on the property during his lifetime. The castle was also home to the world’s largest private zoo, holding animals from every continent. Although the zoo is now closed, zebras can still be seen on the hillside.
  5. As well as the Coso Gronde (the main house), there are also three guest houses on the property: Coso Del Monte, Coso Del Sol and Coso Del Мог. Hearst entertained a great number of Hollywood stars and political leaders at the castle and many used his private airfield. Guests had to attend formal dinners every evening, but were free to do what they liked during the day. They were invited to stay as long as they wanted, but the longer they stayed, the further away they sat from Hearst at the dinner table.
  6. When Hearst died in 1951, his family learnt how expensive maintenance would be, and the mansion was donated to the State of California. Since then, it has been open for public tours and the site attracts millions of tourists every year. However, the Hearst family is still allowed to use it when they wish. The castle was never completed and remains unfinished.

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