The Cultural Iceberg

cultural iceberg

The cultural iceberg theory suggests that like an iceberg there are only some aspects of culture which are visible or which in other words lie above the surface of the water. By the end of this lesson, you will understand how the more immersed we become in a cultural environment the more hidden aspects are revealed to us.

  • Time

    30-40 minutes

  • Main Skills


  • Theme and topic

    Identities: - The Cultural Iceberg

  • Download Available

    Audio Transcript


You are going to watch a video explaining the theory and model of the cultural iceberg.

Listen to Abidemi talking about how being from Nigeria made her different and interesting at the same time. Answer the questions below.

This activity was adapted from a resource from

Every language has a few words or phrases that may be misunderstood. Here are a few that you may find useful to add to your vocabulary.

boot - the "boot" is the compartment at the back of the car known as the "trunk" in American English

budge up - an informal way of asking someone to make room where they are sitting for you to sit down, too, would be asking them to "budge up."

miffed - slightly irritated or annoyed.

splash out - to "splash out" means spending significant amounts of money on a particular item or event

take the mickey - to "take the Mickey" means to take liberties at the expense of others -- and can be used in both a lighthearted and an irritated fashion.

Here are the keywords and phrases to learn:

  • the analogy of culture
  • classroom experience
  • concepts of time
  • cultural differences
  • cultural iceberg
  • explicit manifestations
  • grown accustomed
  • immersed
  • implicit manifestations
  • the tip of the iceberg
  • visible

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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