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August 17, 2009

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Facial Expressions Are Not Universal

The reading of facial expressions may not be universal. This is the conclusion of researchers from Glasgow University in Scotland. They report that people from different cultures read facial expressions differently. In particular, they said there were big differences between the way Westerners and East Asians interpret facial expressions. The study suggests East Asians focus mostly on people’s eyes to read an emotion, but Europeans and Americans scan the whole face. Researcher Rachael Jack said: ''We show that Easterners and Westerners look at different face features to read facial expressions.'' She added: "Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth in equal measure, whereas Easterners favour the eyes and neglect the mouth."


Ms. Jack suggested there are similarities in interpreting facial expressions and the use of emoticons. She said East Asians use the eyes in emoticons to show emotion, for example ^_^ means happy and ;_; is sad. Westerners, however, use the mouth. For example :) is for happy and :( is for sad. She added: “Interestingly, there are clear cultural differences in the formations of these icons. Emoticons are used to convey different emotions in cyberspace as they are the iconic representation of facial expressions.” The researchers said their findings showed intercultural communication is more complicated than we thought. They said: "When it comes to communicating emotions across cultures, Easterners and Westerners will find themselves lost in translation."


 
 

WARM-UPS

1. FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: Walk around the class and talk to other students about facial expressions. Change partners often. Sit with your first partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

expressions / universal / researchers / different cultures / emotions / Westerners / similarities / emoticons / cultural differences / cyberspace / things lost in translation

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. FACE-TO-FACE: How does your face communicate? Complete this table. Show what you wrote to your partner(s). Change partners and share what you heard.

Facial feature

How this communicates

Is this strange?

Eyes

 

 

Nose

 

 

Mouth

 

 

Eyebrows

 

 

Tongue

 

 

Lips

 

 

4. ALL THE SAME: Students A strongly believe we’re all the same; Students B strongly believe we’re all completely different.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. CULTURES: How do people from these cultures communicate? Discuss this with your partner(s).Change partners and share what you heard.

  • Americans
  • Russians
  • Arabs
  • Chinese
  • Maoris
  • Japanese
  • Kenyans
  • Brazilians

6. FACE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘face. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if  a-h  below are true (T) or false (F).

a.

Facial expressions are the same all over the world.

T / F

b.

People worldwide  share the same way of reading facial expressions.

T / F

c.

People from East Asia focus more on people’s lips to read emotions.

T / F

d.

A study says East Asians don’t really look at other people’s mouths.

T / F

e.

The way we use emoticons is similar to how we read facial expressions.

T / F

f.

East Asians show emotions in emoticons using symbols for the eyes.

T / F

g.

Communication between cultures is easier than we thought it was.

T / F

h.

The study suggests translation problems among cultures will continue.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

1.

universal

a.

put into words

2

conclusion

b.

look at

3.

interpret

c.

believed

4.

scan

d.

ignore

5.

neglect

e.

read

6.

similarities

f.

difficult

7.

clear

g.

likenesses

8.

convey

h.

common

9.

complicated

i.

understandable

10.

thought

j.

judgment

3. PHRASE MATCH:  (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

1.

facial expressions may not be

a.

the whole face

2

read facial expressions

b.

translation

3.

the way Westerners and East Asians interpret

c.

are similarities

4.

Americans scan

d.

universal

5.

in equal

e.

differences

6.

Jack suggested there

f.

measure

7.

East Asians use the eyes

g.

differently

8.

there are clear cultural

h.

facial expressions

9.

intercultural

i.

in emoticons

10.

lost in

j.

communication

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

The reading of facial expressions may not be ____________. This is the conclusion of researchers from Glasgow University in Scotland. They ____________ that people from different cultures read facial expressions differently. In particular, they said there were big differences between the ____________ Westerners and East Asians interpret facial expressions. The study suggests East Asians ____________ mostly on people’s eyes to read an emotion, but Europeans and Americans ____________ the whole face. Researcher Rachael Jack said: ''We show that Easterners and Westerners look at different face ____________ to read facial expressions.'' She added: "Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth in ____________ measure, whereas Easterners ____________ the eyes and neglect the mouth."

 

 

 

features
focus
report
favour
scan
universal
way
equal

Ms. Jack suggested there are ____________ in interpreting facial expressions and the ____________ of emoticons. She said East Asians use the eyes in emoticons to ____________ emotion, for example ^_^ means happy and ;_; is sad. Westerners, however, use the mouth. For example :) is for happy and :( is for sad. She added: “Interestingly, there are ____________ cultural differences in the formations of these icons. Emoticons are used to convey different emotions in ____________ as they are the iconic representation of facial expressions.” The researchers said their ____________ showed intercultural communication is more complicated than we thought. They said: "When it ____________ to communicating emotions across cultures, Easterners and Westerners will find themselves ____________ in translation."

 

 

comes
use
show
cyberspace
lost
similarities
findings
clear

LISTENING – Listen and fill in the gaps

The reading of facial expressions __________________. This is the conclusion of researchers from Glasgow University in Scotland. They report that people from different __________________ expressions differently. In particular, they said there were big differences __________________ Westerners and East Asians interpret facial expressions. The study suggests East Asians focus mostly on people’s __________________ emotion, but Europeans and Americans scan the whole face. Researcher Rachael Jack said: ''We show that Easterners and Westerners __________________ features to read facial expressions.'' She added: "Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth __________________, whereas Easterners favour the eyes and neglect the mouth."

Ms. Jack suggested there __________________ interpreting facial expressions and the use of emoticons. She said East Asians __________________ emoticons to show emotion, for example ^_^ means happy and ;_; is sad. Westerners, however, use the mouth. For example :) __________________ :( is for sad. She added: “Interestingly, there are clear cultural differences in the formations of these icons. Emoticons are ____________________ emotions in cyberspace as they are the iconic representation of facial expressions.” The researchers said their findings showed intercultural communication __________________ than we thought. They said: "When it comes to communicating emotions across cultures, Easterners and Westerners will find themselves __________________."


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘facial’ and ‘expression’.

facial

expression

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • universal
  • differently
  • differences
  • suggests
  • added
  • neglect
  • suggested
  • clear
  • convey
  • findings
  • thought
  • lost

STUDENT FACIAL EXPRESSIONS SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about facial expressions in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

FACIAL EXPRESSIONS DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘culture’?

c)

Are you good at reading people’s facial expressions ?

d)

Do you think people’s facial expressions are the same all over the world?

e)

Are you good at hiding your true feelings?

f)

What are the biggest differences between Westerners and Asians?

g)

Do you think it would be interesting to research facial expressions?

h)

What do you think is the most expressive part of someone’s face?

i)

Which do you think communicates better, body language or facial expressions?

j)

Why do you think a particular culture would focus more on the eyes or mouth?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

Do you use emoticons when you send e-mails and text messages?

c)

What do you think of emoticons?

d)

What emoticons are used in your language?

e)

Are there similarities between emoticons and real facial expressions?

f)

Do you think intercultural communication is easy or difficult?

g)

Do you think different cultures have different emotions?

h)

What problems have you had communicating with different cultures?

i)

Have you ever had a problem because of translation?

j)

What questions would you like to ask Rachael Jack?

LANGUAGE – MULTIPLE CHOICE

The (1) ____ of facial expressions may not be universal. This is the conclusion of researchers from Glasgow University in Scotland. They (2) ____ that people from different cultures read facial expressions differently. In particular, they said there were big (3) ____ between the way Westerners and East Asians interpret facial expressions. The study suggests East Asians focus mostly (4) ____ people’s eyes to read an emotion, but Europeans and Americans scan the (5) ____ face. Researcher Rachael Jack said: ''We show that Easterners and Westerners look at different face features to read facial expressions.'' She added: "Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth in (6) ____ measure, whereas Easterners favour the eyes and neglect the mouth."

Ms. Jack suggested there are similarities (7) ____ interpreting facial expressions and the use of emoticons. She said East Asians use the eyes in emoticons to show emotion, for example ^_^ (8) ____ happy and ;_; is sad. Westerners, however, use the mouth. For example :) is for happy and :( is for sad. She added: “Interestingly, there are clear cultural differences in the formations of (9) ____ icons. Emoticons are used to (10) ____ different emotions in cyberspace as they are the iconic representation of facial expressions.” The researchers said their findings showed intercultural communication is (11) ____ complicated than we thought. They said: "When it comes to communicating emotions across cultures, Easterners and Westerners will find themselves (12) ____ in translation."

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

readings

(b)

read

(c)

readers

(d)

reading

2.

(a)

reporters

(b)

report

(c)

reporting

(d)

reports

3.

(a)

differences

(b)

different

(c)

difference

(d)

differently

4.

(a)

in

(b)

to

(c)

on

(d)

at

5.

(a)

all

(b)

every

(c)

whole

(d)

most

6.

(a)

equals

(b)

equal

(c)

equally

(d)

equaled

7.

(a)

in

(b)

on

(c)

to

(d)

at

8.

(a)

meaning

(b)

meant

(c)

mean

(d)

means

9.

(a)

them

(b)

these

(c)

they

(d)

that

10.

(a)

convoy

(b)

convenient

(c)

convert

(d)

convey

11.

(a)

most

(b)

many

(c)

more

(d)

much

12.

(a)

lost

(b)

loss

(c)

losses

(d)

loses

WRITING

Write about facial expressions for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about facial expressions. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: Make a poster about facial expressions (complete with drawings). Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION: Write a magazine article about intercultural communication. Include imaginary interviews with one person who thinks its difficult and another person who thinks it’s easy.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to Rachael Jack. Ask her three questions about facial expressions. Tell her three of your most-used facial expressions. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

F

b.

F

c.

F

d.

T

e.

T

f.

T

g.

F

h.

T

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

universal

a.

common

2

conclusion

b.

judgment

3.

interpret

c.

read

4.

scan

d.

look at

5.

neglect

e.

ignore

6.

similarities

f.

likenesses

7.

clear

g.

understandable

8.

convey

h.

put into words

9.

complicated

i.

difficult

10.

thought

j.

believed

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

facial expressions may not be

a.

universal

2

read facial expressions

b.

differently

3.

the way Westerners and East Asians interpret

c.

facial expressions

4.

Americans scan

d.

the whole face

5.

in equal

e.

measure

6.

Jack suggested there

f.

are similarities

7.

East Asians use the eyes

g.

in emoticons

8.

there are clear cultural

h.

differences

9.

intercultural

i.

communication

10.

lost in

j.

translation

GAP FILL:

Facial expressions are not universal

The reading of facial expressions may not be universal. This is the conclusion of researchers from Glasgow University in Scotland. They report that people from different cultures read facial expressions differently. In particular, they said there were big differences between the way Westerners and East Asians interpret facial expressions. The study suggests East Asians focus mostly on people’s eyes to read an emotion, but Europeans and Americans scan the whole face. Researcher Rachael Jack said: ''We show that Easterners and Westerners look at different face features to read facial expressions.'' She added: "Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth in equal measure, whereas Easterners favour the eyes and neglect the mouth."

Ms. Jack suggested there are similarities in interpreting facial expressions and the use of emoticons. She said East Asians use the eyes in emoticons to show emotion, for example ^_^ means happy and ;_; is sad. Westerners, however, use the mouth. For example :) is for happy and :( is for sad. She added: “Interestingly, there are clear cultural differences in the formations of these icons. Emoticons are used to convey different emotions in cyberspace as they are the iconic representation of facial expressions.” The researchers said their findings showed intercultural communication is more complicated than we thought. They said: "When it comes to communicating emotions across cultures, Easterners and Westerners will find themselves lost in translation."

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - d

2 - b

3 - a

4 - c

5 - c

6 - b

7 - a

8 - d

9 - b

10 - d

11 - c

12 - a

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