The other day I was teaching a group of CEFR B1 students. They are all Kazakhstani local students. One of the listening tasks was to listen to 8 conversations and identify what people asked for. The main focus was on polite requests. Conversation 3 was as follows:

A: What would you like us to bring?

B: A salad and something for a dessert.

A: Great.We can do it.

My students decided that it was a dialogue between a waiter and a customer. I played the track two more times before I realized that my students were unfamiliar with an idea of a potluck dinner. It’s a very foreign idea to Kazakh people who when they have people over for lunch /dinner do not expect guests to bring anything with them. After I explained what a potluck party was my students got really excited and exclaimed: We like this idea, but we are Kazakhs. How can we ask people to bring food or drinks to our place while we are hosting the party? It’s impolite.

It was an interesting experience and made me think how much a lack of culture background knowledge can affect the English language comprehension.

Author: gulmira1970

I was born and grew up in Kazakhstan. In 2001 I left for the USA along with my husband where I spent 3 years working for Adult Basic Education in Brattleboro, VT. Then we moved to Fujairah, the United Arab Emirates where we taught English to local students for 12 years. My daughter Acel was born in the UAE. Now I am looking forward to new adventures that life has for me. I was teaching in Kazakhstan from September 2016 to November 2018 whereas my husband and daughter were trying to adjust to living in the US. Once I got my documents cleared I joined them. At the moment I am trying to adjust to living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


  1. Reblogged this on Profesorbaker’s Worldwide English Blog and commented:
    Hi! I am reblogging this because it is a very thought-provoking post. I recently had a similar expeerience, but related to the use of the n-word. I will begin to explore that topic pn my blog, and I think it might prove interesting for you. I hope you are enjoying your new life in the United States. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!


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