Co-cultural Speech Directions
Delivery on Thursday 1/13 and Tuesday 1/18

From An introduction to Human Communication : Culture can be defined as a system of shared beliefs, values, interests, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that members of society use to cope with one another and to makes sense of the world around them. In the U.S., many co-cultures exist based on characteristics such as race, religion, age, gender, economic status, sexual orientation, language background, occupation, social organization membership, and political affiliation. Co-cultures involve groups of persons united by a common element or interest and who live in a culture operating within a dominant culture. We will use the term co-culture rather than the more common term subculture because the latter implies that these groups are somehow less than or inferior to the dominant culture. It is possible for an individual to belong to several co-cultures simultaneously. Effective intercultural communication requires careful planning and respect for differences, as well as a commitment to learning from each other.

Your assignment for this presentation is to choose an experience that will be appropriate to share with this audience (chapter 5) and that reflects cultural identity, heritage or shock. Careful thinking about how you live and what practices and habits you engage in can often give you insights into your cultural identity. Talking with family over winter break may also give you another opportunity to generate ideas about your cultural identity and heritage. Your speech must be 4-5 minutes. In addition to the previous requirements, the goals for this speech include organization (chapter 8) and an effective introduction and conclusion (chapter 9).

  • Cultural identities- those characterizations that give you a sense of identity
  • Cultural heritages- those histories that help you understand where you come from or why you do the things you do.
  • Cultural shocks- those experiences that startle you into recognizing the differences or similarities among your own and others’ cultural understandings, practices, and identities.

Examples of topics you might choose: how your grandmother’s ethnic background has shaped your personality (identity); the history and evolution of you sorority’s/fraternity’s rituals or meetings (heritage); the malls of Detroit and the mall of Houghton (shock). No matter which kind of topic you choose, you must develop in into a theme and set forth a specific purpose that becomes clear during the course of your speech. The conclusion should leave the audience with something to continue thinking about after you’ve finished speaking.

A few definitions to keep in mind as you prepare for this speech:

  • Ethnocentrism- the belief that your own group or culture is superior to all other groups or cultures.
  • Stereotyping- a belief, based on previously formed opinions and attitudes, that all members of a group are more or less alike and think and act in a similar fashion.