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Top 8 Books for Cultural Understanding: USA

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Any ESL student knows a simple fact: Speaking English well does not mean you understand the culture. Communicating effectively with native-speakers requires much more than just good grammar, listening, writing and speaking skills. If you work and live in an English speaking culture, you also need to understand the society from a cultural point of view. These books are designed to give this insight into culture in the United States of America.

1. Communicating in the Real World

This is a great book for those who need to find a job in the USA. It discusses work-place attitudes and how those attitudes and practices affect language use. This book is rather serious, but for the serious business of finding a job it does wonders.
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2. 101 American Customs

The goal of this book is to understand US culture through their customs. Customs including Thanksgiving, sending birthday cards, and much more. This book takes a humorous approach to understanding US culture through customs.
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3. Lonely Planet USA Phrasebook

The goal of this book is to help understand Americans and their culture through understanding the common (read idiomatic) phrases they use. This book is ideal for ESL students, as well as other native English speakers (British, Australian) that still might have problems understanding the funny ways of people living in the USA.
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4. 101 American Superstitions

Similar to 101 American customs, this book takes a humorous approach to understanding US culture by examining its superstitions.
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5. Oxford Guide to British and American Culture for Learner's of English

A learner's guide to culture is a great starting point to exploring British and American culture. If you have lived in one country, you might find the comparisons particularly interesting.
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6. Introduction to American Studies

This book is not for everyone. However, if you are studying US culture at a university level, this might be the book for you. The book provides an in-depth guide to American studies through fourteen interdisciplinary essays.
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7. Speak American

The description on the cover of this book reads: "A Survival Guide to the Language and Culture of the USA". This book is especially useful for those who have learned British English as it compares US English to British English and explains through an understanding of England.
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8. Spotlight on the USA

Spotlight on the USA by Randee Falk provides an interesting look at the various regions in the US written especially for English learners. Each chapter explores a section of the United States such as New England, The South, the West, etc. and gives detailed information on local customs, idiomatic language as well as providing exercises at the end of each chapter.
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