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Culture and Learning

 Language Learning Forum : Cultural Experiences in Foreign Languages Post Reply
37 messages over 5 pages: 13 4 5  Next >>
nimchimpsky
Diglot
Groupie
Netherlands
Joined 5340 days ago

73 posts - 108 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English

 
 Message 9 of 37
30 October 2012 at 5:39pm | IP Logged 
What is there to talk about if you don't know anything about my culture? Language
learning would be pointless if you neglect cultural knowledge.

tarvos wrote:
I speak English
very well but if somebody quotes me a lyric from some popular singer nowadays I won't
know it at all - I have never listened to f.e. Justin Bieber.

And as emk points out, there are many people who just don't care for cultural
references and will not understand them regardless, even if they are native speakers of
the language.


That is why a native-like level is not the holy grail (cultural reference) of language
learning. You should also have a certain amount of knowledge besides perfect grammar
and pronunciation. That knowledge doesn't have to be deep knowledge. No one in Anglo-
Saxon culture will expect you to know every song of Justin Bieber, but they might
expect you to know who Justin Bieber is and what kind of music he makes. We need this
kind of shared background knowledge in order to communicate quickly and efficiently
with each other. Anyone who doesn't know what the 'second world war' was is not a
member of the Dutch linguistic community to me.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6885 days ago

4228 posts - 8259 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 10 of 37
30 October 2012 at 5:50pm | IP Logged 
The original question dealt with the need to learn everything about the culture to be fluent in the associated language. Needing to know something (or even a lot) about the culture is different from needing to know everything about it.
2 persons have voted this message useful



druckfehler
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 4597 days ago

1181 posts - 1912 votes 
Speaks: German*, EnglishC2, Korean
Studies: Persian

 
 Message 11 of 37
30 October 2012 at 6:06pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
The original question dealt with the need to learn everything about the culture to be fluent in the associated language. Needing to know something (or even a lot) about the culture is different from needing to know everything about it.


And your short answer was absolutely sufficient for the superficial question. But I think the answers about gradations of cultural knowledge are worthwhile and more thought-provoking than the initial question.
1 person has voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
Joined 5495 days ago

2256 posts - 4046 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 12 of 37
30 October 2012 at 6:25pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
I have never listened to f.e. Justin Bieber.

But you know who she is.
4 persons have voted this message useful



Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 5110 days ago

3971 posts - 7747 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 13 of 37
30 October 2012 at 7:05pm | IP Logged 
Language is a system -- generally speaking, there is no problem learning how to put parts together to impart meaning, and understanding when others do so, without any knowledge of the culture. I certainly view language as a system of meaning management much more than as a receptacle for culture, so to speak.

As you become more sophisticated in your use of the language, then a better knowledge of culture is important (in some cultures more so than in others), but one could certainly learn a language to conversational level without knowing much about the culture of its speakers.
1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6885 days ago

4228 posts - 8259 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 14 of 37
30 October 2012 at 7:12pm | IP Logged 
druckfehler wrote:
Chung wrote:
The original question dealt with the need to learn everything about the culture to be fluent in the associated language. Needing to know something (or even a lot) about the culture is different from needing to know everything about it.


And your short answer was absolutely sufficient for the superficial question. But I think the answers about gradations of cultural knowledge are worthwhile and more thought-provoking than the initial question.


Indeed. I was merely reacting to nimchimpsky who assigns a stronger link between cultural knowledge and fluency, and makes what I feel are strong statements on the matter (esp. the association of WWII as part of the Dutch speech community's collective memory/experience with their native language). For the record I knew nothing of Bieber until Psy came into my consciousness in the summer and the subsequent link of the two singers thanks to Scooter Braun.

nimchimpsky wrote:
What is there to talk about if you don't know anything about my culture? Language
learning would be pointless if you neglect cultural knowledge.

tarvos wrote:

I speak English
very well but if somebody quotes me a lyric from some popular singer nowadays I won't
know it at all - I have never listened to f.e. Justin Bieber.

And as emk points out, there are many people who just don't care for cultural
references and will not understand them regardless, even if they are native speakers of
the language.



That is why a native-like level is not the holy grail (cultural reference) of language
learning. You should also have a certain amount of knowledge besides perfect grammar
and pronunciation. That knowledge doesn't have to be deep knowledge. No one in Anglo-
Saxon culture will expect you to know every song of Justin Bieber, but they might
expect you to know who Justin Bieber is and what kind of music he makes. We need this
kind of shared background knowledge in order to communicate quickly and efficiently
with each other. Anyone who doesn't know what the 'second world war' was is not a
member of the Dutch linguistic community to me.

1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 4436 days ago

5310 posts - 9399 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 15 of 37
30 October 2012 at 7:36pm | IP Logged 
Bao wrote:
tarvos wrote:
I have never listened to f.e. Justin Bieber.

But you know who she is.


Youtube and co. They damage your view on society.
1 person has voted this message useful



kanewai
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
justpaste.it/kanewai
Joined 4618 days ago

1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 16 of 37
30 October 2012 at 8:21pm | IP Logged 
I think the 'social behavior' mentioned by druckfehler has a far greater relationship
to language than the outside markings of culture such as music, food, art, et al. I'd
even say that this is important at the beginning levels of language learning,
and not just at the advanced / fluent level.

Spoken language is only one element of the way we communicate. There's also body
language, facial expression, eye contact, tone and volume, touch, gesture, and so on.
When we are immersed in a culture we start to see how these are all integrated.

I also firmly believe that language is related to the way we think, though this is
still a somewhat controversial assertion.

So, for example ...

I can learn to manipulate all the roots in Arabic, and memorize the 1001 ways to say
'how are you?' but it's not until I sit down at someone's home and have to exchange all
these beautiful phrases with my host that I realize just how Arabic works.

I studied French for years and never realized that, in Paris, people seem to half-sing
the language and that there's a flirty subtext to so many interactions. In Rome I
realized that the rhythms of Italian mimicked the rhythms of people's interactions with
each other. In Mexico I saw how the formality of spoken Spanish imposed a formality on
our initial meetings with people.

You can memorize all the rules, and not quite understand these parts of how a language
works.





Edited by kanewai on 30 October 2012 at 10:21pm



2 persons have voted this message useful



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