Importance of knowing the culture in language learning

Importance of knowing the culture in language learning

21 December 2021

So you have chosen a language that you are interested in learning?

So what if you are asked what’s the best way to learn a language? What would you say? Probably in the lines of, join a language class and focus on studying. Well that’s correct but partially.

We know that language learning is tough. It takes consistency and dedication to learn a language. In order to do that you need to stay not only focused but also interested in your target language. One simple way to maintain that interest is to immerse yourself in your target language’s culture. Always research about the culture of the country or countries where your target language is spoken.

It is said that the culture and language are interconnected and the relationship between them is highly complex. Language isn’t just the sum total of words, grammatical rules and sentence formation, but also its unique cultural norms, and social systems. Understanding these contexts specific to the culture with the linguistic principles aids in effective language learning.

The culture often shapes the language and is also responsible for its evolution. If you truly want to master a second language, knowledge of cultural contexts of the language you’re learning can provide you with a lot of insights into certain phrases that are spoken by natives.

Language learning is more than just knowing how to greet others or ask for directions. You may know countless words in your target language, but you will be very surprised when trying to communicate with a native speaker for the first time. Misunderstandings are very common and it can even lead to awkward situations.

For example, imagine you have a company that is about to receive a Japanese client for a meeting, for an important contract. It is very important to keep in mind the business culture of their country, ie, the hierarchy that is followed. If not the client may even feel humiliated or offended.

With the internet it is quite easy to get your hands on information related to the culture. These are some examples of how you can connect with the culture of your target language:

  • Movies: Try watching movies native to your target language. You ll see how certain phrases are expressed or pronounced. Mimicking the way a native speaker in a movie speaks can also help you in reaching near native level in your target language. Focus on the tone of the voice, the context in which the phrase is used and the accent.
  • Newspapers and magazines: This is by far the best way to test your knowledge of your language. The writing you learn in language schools and the one written in a newspaper or a magazine is quite different. The articles in the newspaper follow all grammar rules, but at the same time keep a natural voice.
  • Podcasts: Similarly to movies, listening to podcasts can help you in understanding the tone and accent. Try looking for podcasts related to specific topics related to your target language. In today’s day cultural appropriation is very much in light, listening to podcasts on such topics can help you understand what is considered correct or wrong in that particular culture. Through this you’ll be mindful of what you speak with the natives.
  • Blogs: Where you have podcasts which help you in listening and understanding how a language is spoken casually. Blogs will help you in learning the local vocabulary. In many languages there is a difference in what is spoken and what is written. The more you are exposed to both types of sources the easier it becomes to use these words in the right place.
  • Literature: Literature of any kind will give you insight on a particular language’s culture. Not only that, the way the author expresses their views and ideas through stories can also help you in understanding new ways of using the vocabulary you already know. You may also come across many proverbs too, and a little bit of proverb always helps when speaking to a native.
  • Traveling: Traveling is the most effective way of learning a language because it gives you less alternatives. You are forced to speak and understand the target language. You’ll not only get to hear how the natives speak, but you will also get to communicate with them. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Always have an open mind and ask for help where needed.

Blog Categories
Request a quote