Culture Shock

culture shock

Culture Shock – Exploring how people adapt to different cultures through different forms of visual and audio media is a great way to prepare for the IB English B listening exam.

  • Time

    40 minutes

  • Main Skill


  • Theme and topic

    Experiences: Culture Shock

  • Download Available

    Audio Transcript


Five students from five different continents tell us how they adapted to a brand new culture when they first came to study abroad.

You will hear from a reporter who has just arrived in Beijing after living in Tokyo for two years. It results in him feeling some culture shock.

A. Identify true statements 1-4 According to the reporter, which FOUR of the following statements are true?

A. Crossing a road is more difficult in Japan than in China.

B. In Japan, pedestrians pay little attention to traffic signals when crossing the road.

C. Although he admires many aspects of Japanese culture, he never felt that he was accepted in Japan.

D. Emotions are expressed more openly in China than in Japan.

E. When he was trying to buy a subway ticket in China, the local people were very helpful.

F. He speaks Chinese fluently, so he is confident about his new position in China.

G. He is excited to have the opportunity to learn about and work in another culture.

B. Matching the statements with their sources.To which country do the following words apply? Choose either “China” or “Japan” next to each statement.

5. “Everyone seems to be in a constant race or scramble to get on top.”

6. “Everyone tries to get ahead of the next guy.”

7. “…… civil and polite”

8. “The sheer scale of the place is both exciting and frightening.”

9. “……their obsession with order and detail”

C. Multiple ChoiceChoose the correct statement:

10. The reporter will miss living in Japan


An idiom is a common word, or common phrase culturally understood – meaning that what is said differs from what is actually meant. Brits are really well known for this, and the logic behind the majority of sayings are unknown but really useful to understand.

a penny for your thoughts - A way of asking someone to share their thoughts with you. 

back to the drawing board - Used to indicate that an idea, scheme or proposal has been unsuccessful and that a new one should be devised.

beat around the bush - A typical British saying meaning you're purposely avoiding the topic in a subject, not speaking directly about the issue. 

hit the sack - The sack would be your bed - and you hitting it would be you going to bed.  

see eye to eye - When two or more people agree on something. You see eye to eye because you have the same views. 

your guess is as good as mine - Meaning you basically have no idea. You simply know as much as the next person. 

You can find more common idioms based on culture here.

Here are the keywords and phrases covered in this lesson:

  • antithesis
  • architecture
  • confrontations
  • culture shock
  • dynamics
  • energetic
  • exchange
  • frustration
  • homesick
  • jaywalking
  • obsession
  • societies
  • socializing
  • strict etiquette
  • surroundings
  • overwhelmed
  • welfare advisors

Answers for Exercise 2
1-4. C, D, E, G
5. China 6. China 7. Japan 8. China 9. Japan
10. B


IB English B Language Skills

  • Listening & Speaking

    Skills to communicate both professionally and socially.

  • Reading

    Skills to stimulates imagination memory and recall information

  • Writing

    Skills to foster the ability to explain and refine ideas.

IB English B Themes

  • Experiences

    Opportunities to consider how events which take place impact an individual's life.

  • Human Ingenuity

    Opportunities to explore the sciences, technology and creativity.

  • Identities

    Opportunities to discover interests, values, belief and culture.

  • Sharing The Planet

    Opportunities to look at the challenges faced by individuals and communities in the modern world.

  • Social Organization

    Opportunities to explore the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests.

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