Plurilingual website analysis
(Partly adapted from an activity by Astrid Guillaume 2007, LEA project)
Websites that are culturally interesting are those that have been adapted or localised to meet the needs of a specific country. Examples include McDonalds, Lancôme, Renault, Mercedes, Dior, Chanel, etc.
The aim of these websites is to sell a product. That is why the nonverbal messages and cultural adaptations are essential in reaching the target audience. The approach and content differ in each country website. With a contrastive analysis of the websites, it is possible to define the communicative strategies implemented in and for each country. The analysis can reveal certain cultural, social or religious characteristics and stereotypes of different cultures. Moreover, this is a good activity to explore a language that you do not speak using the cues from similar websites in languages you know.
Explore some country specific websites of a big global company, such as McDonalds. You can find a list of the web country codes here.
www.mcdonalds.pl, www.mcdonals.cl, www.mcdonalds.com.cn, www.mcdonalds.com.us, www.mcdonaldsindia.com, www.mcdonalds.ie, www.mcdonalds.co.il, www.mcdonalds.it, www.mcdonalds.be, www.mcdonalds.ee, www.mcdonalds.ru, www.mcdonalds.ua, www.mcdonalds.pt
Part 1: Cultural characteristics
Answer the questions below. What other questions come to your mind?
- Compare the appearance of the country specific websites. How do the colours, shapes, designs, layouts and web effects differ? How do the offered online activities differ (e.g. build your own menu on the McDonald’s US website)?
- What can you say about the video commercials or music in different sites?
- What conclusions can you draw from the cultural differences? According to the website, what is valued in each country? What have you based your conclusions on?
Part 2: Language work
- How easy is it to navigate a site whose language you don’t know? What about those with different writing systems? What helps you to move around and make guesses about the content?
- Look at a website whose language is related to a language you know (Italian or Portuguese to Spanish, Danish or Norwegian to Swedish, Estonian to Finnish, etc.). Build a small list of vocabulary with the help of the website. What else could you learn about that language?
Part 3: Reflection
- What did you learn from these tasks?
- How could these kinds of activities be implemented in the language of schooling teaching? What kind of aims might they help achieve?