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Contents

  • Cultural Awareness
  • How to speak like…..
  • Cultural Immersion
  • It’s all about respect
  • Summary

Part 1: http://bit.ly/2lGSmgd

Part 2: http://bit.ly/2lU4Y3m

At the previous parts, we’ve already look at my language journey. If you impressed by my personal stories on part 1, you might found interesting how to practice language on your own at part 2. On this last part, we’re looking at the cultural differences. Why is it important to understand their cultures when it comes to learning languages? Is it possible to learn their cultural aspects within your language learning journey?

Cultural Awareness

Every language belongs to certain cultures. Inside their languages, you can see their cultural, religious, political and social traditions and current trends. The most popular cultural aspects of knowing are their comedy culture. Or famous TV shows, dramas and movies they are watching. Why are people driven to know about their different TV shows? Why language learners always find it fascinating to learn about Spanish songs or some of the Indian movie series? It’s authentic. Not only make you understand their culture through the media lenses. But it makes you motivate to know more about their lifestyles, philosophy, music, art and so on.

Without cultural understandings, you might have no idea why Koreans still love to eat samgeopsal with drinking soju in staff dinner time. Or many westerners find it uncomfortable why East Asian countries do not have individualistic cultural aspects. It’s no surprise to see that many Muslim immigrants in Europe have a grave problem with understanding the European cultural values. If they truly learn and respect their traditions, they wouldn’t have a massive conflict with natives.

It is getting vital to find out cultural differences from all over the world. Whether you are moving to Dubai or studying in Norway, it’s always good to know their languages with cultural awareness. You might love some of their cultural advantages. You would feel uncomfortable with some of their traditions. But whether it makes you feel, it’s always great to expand your knowledge and perspectives on culture. For better understanding the world and find out the answer to the future. But How can you immerse their culture into the language learning?

How to speak like…

I still remember that I was very attracted by British English and culture when I was young. Not just because their accent sounds sexy or I haven’t learnt anything about British culture, but it’s always good to learn those things from the origins. (No Worries, Americans! I recently found you guys were attractive too!) That makes me really dive into learning the language. From BBC news to Lord sugar’s The Apprentice, I watched many TV shows as possible to understand their realities. If you keep focusing on watching their TV shows on your target language, you have a good chance to practice for speaking like a local. It was always pleasured to listen and practice different British accents. And it all brings me fun.

Of course, I can’t rely on watching TV and learning their all aspects of my journey. I knew that It’s not a good idea to behave exactly same like teens from Skins or shameless in Britain. It will be a terrible idea if you speak with your English girlfriend on your mild BBC news reporter accent. Without any sense of humour, she would love to run away as quick as possible! It’s always a good idea to not talk about Tottenham if you have a friend who loves Arsenal. But It’s always important and fun to know some cultural differences in your target language.

In turns out, My hardworking on learning English and cultural immersion work well. I met loads of good British friends who were surprised by my British accents and cultural knowledge. Many of them even asked me if I was actually born in Britain or studied there. But I don’t have to do that. With your computer and useful practical resources, you could always embrace another culture into your languages and speaks like those people.

I’m sure that I could apply this principle next time on French too. I only knew few basic French words. I watched a couple of good French movies with English subtitles. But it has a tremendously long way to go for understanding their cultures. But you have to be active, exciting about learning their cultural habits. What’s the point of learning a language without understanding their part of reality? Our human language isn’t designed for programming languages… all of the programming languages contains logics and mathematical structures. But they have no culture, comedy or traditions inside. Just imagine your journey only provides with logic, calculations. Thankfully, we don’t have to know only about logics.

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Cultural Immersion

But some of you might be suspicious about learning cultures. Even if you have a linguistic college degree that makes you understand how language structure and grammars works, you would still wonder why I made an emphasis on the cultural learning process. So what are the actual benefits to immersing their culture? Why is that crucial on your journey?

Just imagine if you’re from China. And somehow you have to stay in Sweden for working for a Swedish company. You would probably have to learn Swedish language and their cultural rules. Thanks to long, cold and brutal Swedish winter, you might have to understand why they have a lot of summer festivals on June ~ July. If you can speak Swedish quite well, some of your Swedish friends will invite you on Midsommar festivals near small towns. What about if you know some of the favourite Swedish songs that make you keep friendly with your Swedish coworkers. Your life in Sweden wouldn’t be stressful as you imagined.

Only with understanding their language, literature, festivals and music soon… your exotic experience in foreign countries will be more exciting. You can actually enjoy the cultural enrichment while you live there. Rather than complaining about the inconveniences and difficulties to residing in abroad, people have to change their perspectives through their eyes and start to embracing it. You don’t necessarily have to lose your original cultural identity. But you could try to adopt their culture, language and lifestyle to make your life better in abroad.

Yes, it is possible to immerse different culture in your target languages and countries. If you know how to respect their traditions and make good local friends, your life in abroad will never be tired. Who knows? You might fall in love with their people and live there forever!

It’s all about respect

Although it’s not surprising to see that many immigrants have culture shocks on many different levels. I knew a lot of stories from my foreign friends to talk about difficulties living in South Korea. But wherever you are going to study, move, work or so on, your language journey definitely requires to understanding their cultural backgrounds. Without understanding these, your challenge is going to be actually harder. You can see this consequences easily on Korean English education. Almost 90% of students have not interested in English speaking culture. They don’t want to know about it. And they have no plan to moving there what-so-ever. But their education system kept pushing them to practice English with exam purposes.

Of course, English is an excellent language for international business. But you can’t truly have real language skills and interests if you only look at the business perspective. What would you do once you are no longer in global business position and forget your skills quickly? How would disaster be to ‘study’ too hard on languages and doesn’t really enjoyed to learning their languages, cultures? But you don’t have to be stressed about it. The time for misery is over.

Whether you want to learn Afrikaans or Latin American Spanish, you are learning those languages because you are attracted to their TV shows, people, movies or many other cultural aspects. If you are actually willing to respect their realities and embrace it sincerely, you might find new opportunities in their world. You could possibly move there, find new jobs or make great friends and doing some fun activities. A pure magic of learning language & culture starts correctly once you seriously embrace it, immerse it and enjoy it.

I really hope that your stressful days of learning language is going to be over soon. Because life is too short to worry about tiny little things. Good luck and enjoy yourself!

Summary

  • Every language has their own cultural systems inside. Without understanding their culture, you may find it difficult to learning your target languages. 
  • Your language learning journey would be more interesting to know their cultural aspects. Whether it comes from TV shows, movies, books, arts or comedy, it will keep you motivated to learning your language. 
  • If you are moving abroad or thinking about it, cultural immersion would be a good idea for improving your communication, For example, just imagine how advantages you would get if you work in Sweden and know a lot of their culture, people and traditions. Or just imagine how hard your life would be if you don’t make any efforts to respect their culture. 
  • Eventually, learning language and culture should be embraced altogether on your journey. If you comply with the culture and people, just imagine how excited your experience is going to be. Of course, it’s going to be challenging. But life is too short to stressed about challenges. Just do it and enjoy to make progress!

Further readings

  1. Walk like an Egyptian: why blending in matters –https://www.fluentin3months.com/egypt-start/
  1. The definition of cultural immersion – http://thestudyabroadblog.com/cultural-immersion/
  1. Is it better to travel to villages for language / cultural immersion? – https://www.fluentin3months.com/villages-for-immersion/
  1. How to accept and respect other cultures? – https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/How-to-Accept-and-Respect-other-Cultures
  1. 6 tips for sounding like a local – https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/6-tips-for-speaking-like-a-local/