I did a lesson on stereotypes today. I handed out a sheet with some American stereotypes about Germans (blond-haired, blue-eyed, orderly, hobbies include drinking beer and invading Poland), then asked them to come up with a sentence or two about America for each of my stereotype categories. Here's what they came up with (things in quotes are direct quotations; things not in quotes are summaries of class feelings):
Society: Very open to other cultures except Afghanistan. Friendly
and funny. Very individualistic.
Lifestyle: Fast food and "secret parties." One girl: "Americans are very nervous and eat a lot of hamburgers." That cracked me up in class.
Entertainment: "The sound of guns being fired is like music to Americans." Movie stars everywhere. Country music.
Politics: Everyone loves George W. Bush. Always going to war with other countries.
Economy: Big houses and big cars. Only interested in other countries if they have oil.
"Americans all want Mercedes but they can't get them."
Religion: All Christians. All irreligious. Tons of different religions. (I laughed when we finished that one, because I got the whole spectrum after calling on three people)
Problems (hooo boy): "America is full of violent rednecks and the KKK and
everyone hates black people."
Homeless people. Drugs. Gang wars. Healthcare. George W. Bush.
Miscellaneous: Americans are all out of shape. Americans see everything in black and white. Americans are stupid.
It was a fun lesson. We talked a little about how much of this stuff they thought was probably true (50-50, they said, much like the German stereotypes I told them). Amusing stuff.