Course Description

Course Name

Intercultural Adaptation in France

Session: VPRS1322

Hours & Credits

42 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


The objective of this course is to give students grounding in intercultural adaptation. Living abroad, unlike visiting as a tourist, implies a cultural adaptation process. Social sciences will help us understand where we come from – this is even more relevant in a multicultural classroom. We will take time to introspect our values, socialization and cultural codes. This self-cultural-awareness will be the first step to ease cultural adaptation. It is Socrate’s “know yourself and you will know the universe and its gods.” We will then examine one’s adaptation to French daily life: the surprises, the expected, the challenges. We will wonder how it fits or not our own culture, what compromises are we going to make to adapt, and how it is enriching our own choices and views. It will take us to a deeper understanding of French society, culture, values as a whole.  Finally, these skills will be applied to international management and international business negotiations.    
This class will therefore use the student’s close daily environment in order to test theoretical multi-disciplinary approaches such as history, sociology, ethnology or psychology in order to understand intercultural adaptation processes applied to one’s own case in personal, academic and professional settings.

Students are expected to read the relevant course material for each class. Students are asked to expose themselves to as many French cultural experiences as possible (ICP student events, French family exposures, getting involved in French student associations, practicing sports in French clubs, experience Parisian café life, mixing with French students at the CROUS, etc.). From this exposure, students will grasp a better and deeper understanding of socio-cultural French ways structured by class readings. 
Students have to complete the given assignments: 

  • comments and personal assessment of the week’s topic based on the reading of the core texts. 
  • a 15/20 minute presentation in class on a topic related to the Intercultural field  and based on personal research. Students are free to choose the topic for the presentation but should demand prior approval for their choice.
  • a term paper (5 - 6 typewritten pages with double spacing).  The students will be asked to write a guide for students from their own country to come and study in Paris to ease their cultural adaptation. Students are expected to research the topic and present a critical assessment and analysis with concrete references. A detailed bibliography of at least three additional academic sources to those used in class should be included. The topic and methodology are to be in one chosen human science in agreement with the student’s home school in view of transfer credits.
  • Final exam.

The majority of texts will be handed out in class and audiovisual documents will also be used. 
Recommended reading: 
 Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, Sixty Million French can’t be wrong, What Makes the French so French, Portico, 2014.
Geert and Gert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkov, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance to Survival, Mac Graw Hill,  2010.

4/ Other references
Geert Hofsdete, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations, Sage Corp. Inc., 2003.
Jérome Dumetz, Fons Trompenaars, Meredith Belbin, Cross Cultural Management Textbook : Lessons from the World Leading Experts in Cross-cultural Management,  2012.

5/ EVALUATION:  The final grade for the course will be based on student performance on the following tasks: 
Presence and participation, oral presentation, final paper and final exam.
NB: Students are required to be present for tests and to hand in their papers at the scheduled time. Late papers are penalized. 

6/ Attendance Policy
Attendance is essential and checked on a daily basis. Only two unjustified absences will be accepted and all ‘justified’ absences must be documented. The final evaluation will take both absences and repeated unpunctuality (three ‘lates’ count as one absence) into account. Students who are late (i.e. who show up during or after attendance is being checked) should see the instructor after class so that they are marked as late present.


1. Introduction:  Syllabus presentation, Oral presentation scheduling.
Different approaches to define culture.
Introducing cultural adaptation methodology.

2. Students will identify different types of cultures.
Class workshop to get to know oneself better.
Dealing with Time and Space in France.

3. Workshop on Richard D. Lewis’s Visual approach to intercultural communication.      
Adapting to French Academic life.
Oral presentation : French schooling system.
4. Workshop on stereotypes and national identity construction.
Eating at a French table: beyond national identity!
Oral presentation.
5. Friendship and inter personal relations in France and other countries referring to Pascal Baudry and Raymonde Carroll.
Oral presentation.
6. France setting itself as a democratic model and the country of Human rights. A historical perspective to understand where it stands today. What about other countries setting themselves as political models or world leaders?  Looking at Laurence Wylie’s work.
Oral presentation. 
7. Workshop on masculinity and feminity, and high bow culture (l’exception culturelle) in France and abroad.
Oral presentation.
8. Hierarchy in France and other countries.
Oral presentation .
9. Intercultural management.
Oral presentation.
10. Intercultural negociation.
Oral presentation.
Term paper due.
11. Final exam.
Oral presentation.

*Course content subject to change