CH 2 Exercises: Cultural Understanding

Exercise 1

Culture involves beliefs, attitudes, values, and traditions shared by a group of people. The purpose of this exercise is to increase your cultural awareness as it pertains to technical writing and to practice assessing audience, purpose, and situation.

Your task for this exercise is to find and analyze a piece of technical writing, either a printed document or a specific web page, that you think might benefit from a revision with an eye toward being more cultural sensitivity and inclusive.

Be sure to read the previous chapters on Cultural Understanding and Culturally Sensitive Terminology and think about the following questions as you assess the document:

      • Who is this document’s intended audience?
      • What do you notice about its writing style?
      • Would you change the writing style? If so, how would it differ and what effect would it have?
      • Would you change the layout or format? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?
      • What else might you do?
      • If you were to change the intended audience to a different demographic with different cultural norms, what about this document would you have to revise?

Explain your reasoning for these revisions (either in a small group classroom discussion or in a written memo) and how making them would help the document or web page be more culturally aware and sensitive.

Exercise 2

For this exercise, you will be comparing two websites. The first website you examine should be one designed for a U.S. audience and the second should be the equivalent (or similar) site designed for an audience in another country. For example, you might examine how Toyota’s site is designed for American audiences compared to how its site is designed for Japanese or German audiences.

In a small group classroom discussion or brief memo, consider the following:

      • What is the website’s purpose (to sell products, to provide information, to promote a religious or political agenda, to provide a service, such as a site dedicated to music reviews, etc.).
      • Analyze and describe the audience for each website. How do they differ?
      • How does each site appeal to its respective audience? 
      • Do the sites differ in visual layout or content? If so, how?
      • Are the sites similar in any ways?
      • Do you notice any differences in writing style?
      • Does one site have more text than the other?
      • Are the sites effective in targeting multiple audiences? Why or why not?


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