Language is culture
You can be proficient in a language foreign to you and still be lacking something. Vocabulary, grammar and correct pronunciations are important pillars of a language, but the often ignored fourth, and most important element is culture. Culture provides one context for a language.
Language allows us to convey our thoughts, feelings and needs to others around us. This code system is based on a shared understanding. Therefore, when we learn a new language, understanding the language’s culture allows us to delve into this shared understanding and know the language better.
A learner can familiarize themselves with the language’s culture while learning the language itself. There are many ways to do this. First, there is the obvious one --- immersing yourself in movies, songs, and other media of the language you want to learn. The internet has brought the world to our living room. Hundreds of videos and articles about life in other countries is presented to you for peruse at your leisure. Then, there’s the more expensive option of immersing yourself with native speakers while learning the language. However, it’s a tad expensive to travel abroad, innit? This could help you understand the lifestyle of the natives from first-hand experience. There’s also the added benefit of touring a new place, and indulging yourself in new cuisine.
However, the third option is much easier and will help you understand the language much more deeply and give you a glimpse of its culture as well. This would require you to look for little clues while learning a foreign language.
A language reflects the beliefs and ideas of its speakers. Certain pronouns, availability of a certain range of words should help you create a vision of what the language’s culture is like.
For example, how Indian languages have a whole list of words to refer to different familial relations reflecting their values of joint family living. For another example we can consider how Korea’s collectivist culture is reflected in the use of their ‘we’ pronoun where an individual is referred to.
You’ll sure achieve your goal by learning a language alone, but something will still seem missing. It’d be like visiting India, but not trying any of its delightful food! Now, that wouldn’t be a fulfilling trip, would it?
At Language Curry, language is taught in fun modules that are designed around a language’s culture. A learner is given a glimpse of the language’s culture through the course trajectory. For a memorable language learning experience, join us at Language Curry!