Assimilation and Acculturation

Contributor: Hallah Elbeleidy. Lesson ID: 10462

You've met people of different cultures who call themselves "Americans." The U.S. is a unique multicultural society. Watch video and read about assimilation and acculturation pros and cons in history!


People and Their Environment, World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


America is often referred to as the great melting pot, but what exactly does this mean? Is everything inside this magical pot indistinguishable and one-in-the-same or is it possible to notice differences? Is there a better term for this environment? In sociology, the ways cultures come together, adapt, and disappear are known as assimilation and acculturation.

The sociology concepts of assimilation and acculturation refer to the processes that happen when cultures meet.

For people entering a new country, the parts of their culture that are maintained or dissolved are determined by either assimilation or acculturation, depending on the country. Some cultural aspects are language, food, dress, and habits. Find out the differences among these processes and more by completing the exercises below:


Difference Between Acculturation and Assimilation (; you may have to scroll down to find it), a breakdown of the definitions of acculturation and assimilation with examples.

How Boarding Schools Tried to 'Kill the Indian' Through Assimilation (by Becky Little,, an informative article about the forced assimilation of the natives in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Schoolhouse Rock - “The Great American Melting Pot” This video is an oversimplification of the sociological ideas of assimilation and acculturation. While watching, identify the concepts that are being spoken of.

  • What are some of the problems of representing the foundation of the U.S. in this way?

Keep this thought in the back of your mind; you’ll be able to write about this in the next section:


History vs. Christopher Columbus - Alex Gendler (TED-Ed) This video debunks some of the myths associated with the founding of the New World. Pay particular attention to the message this video is conveying regarding the treatment and assumptions of the native peoples:



Continue on to the Got It? section to answer some probing questions about assimilation.

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