Learner Description: This page was created for advanced ESL Students enrolled into Cross-Cultural Communication course.
**Click on the image on the right to read more on each concept.
Introduction to Cultural Iceberg Model
The Iceberg Model illustrates the visual representation and division of Culture, particularly its "Visible" (above water) and "Invisible" (underwater) parts.
It is common among interculturalists, teachers and trainers alike, to demonstrate and teach culture using the Iceberg Model. Just as an Iceberg has two parts - Visible and Invisible, so does Culture.
Visible Part of Culture represents those parts that any observer (e.g.., a visitor or a tourist) can easily notice right off the plane, such as - architecture, symbols, clothing, food, music, language, etc.
Example - Architecture. Will you recognize these easily?
Invisible Part, respectively, is the one that is hidden "underwater" - it is hard to recognize its shape, form, and "dangerosity", for that matter. The Underwater part represents a society's core values, attitudes, traditions, history, religion, communication styles, concepts of Self, Time, New, and Beauty, Relationships with Nature, etc.
Example - Communication Styles and the way of Doing Business. Can these be recognized just as easily?
High or Low Context?
Direct or Indirect?
Implicit or Explicit?
Verbal or Non-Verbal?
With or without eye contact?
What is the approach to doing Business?
Are relationships important or "Let's get down to business?"
Does it really differ from Culture to Culture?