“Knowledge of “Culture” Enhances Second Language Learning Abilities”

I took a Linguistics class last semester and psychology was never brought up, so I found it really interesting how Linguistics was brought up in our Cognitive Psychology lecture.

I found an interesting article talking about “Knowledge of “Culture” Enhances Second Language Learning Abilities”. The article is by Ms. Bhanushree Agarwal, a M.A. student in Linguistics from the University of Delhi (http://www.gjms.co.in/index.php/gjms/article/view/674). This woman’s motivation for her article is the classroom sessions of Spanish learning language. She goes in to great detail and talks about how the knowledge of culture helps to learn a second language. She mentions “Culture and language are two sides of a same coin which go together hand in hand be it anthropology, linguistics, or psychology”.ForeignLanguage-Training

She suggests that the first step towards leaning a second language is to know about the culture of the place where that language is spoken, until and unless one will feel connected to that language one cannot learn it. She quoted from Wikipedia with “ differences in the way languages encode cultural and cognitive categories affect the way people think, so the speakers of different languages will tend to think and behave differently depending on the language they use”. She agreed with this quote saying that one word is one language is not necessarily exist in the same form or context in other languages.

Culture is defined as traditions, rituals, thinking of people, set of ideas, behaviors, attitudes that exist within a large group of people (families, countries, ethnicities, etc.). Language learning is more of knowing about the people who speak that language, feeling and thinking in the same way they do. This is why communicative method is one the important tools for learning a foreign language. Learning a new language does not completely change your thinking towards the world but gives you another direction for looking at it and perceiving things.

She concludes with that language is a culture. If learners are being taught language without teaching about the culture in which it operates then students are learning meaningless and empty symbols or they might interpret the meaning in an incorrect manner. She also mentions her own experience when trying to learning Spanish as her second language. She says as she was learning Spanish, she would love to watch movies in Spanish. She also tried to get to know names of famous Spanish actors, singers, painters, and everything because then only she used to feel connected and enjoyed her Spanish learning classes.

4 thoughts on ““Knowledge of “Culture” Enhances Second Language Learning Abilities”

  1. mgehlsen

    This is definitely an interesting take on language learning, and I can relate to it seeing as how I speak 4 languages. I picked up Spanish the easiest because in the public school curriculum, there are culture components that we have to know and I feel like I know the language more because of it. While I was learning French, the culture wasn’t stressed as much so I don’t feel as confident with it as I do with Spanish. And with Chinese, I didn’t learn any culture and I feel incredibly incompetent in the language even though I know I can (sort of) speak it (sometimes)(on a good day).

  2. Erica

    This was a very interesting post. I am currently taking a Spanish 201 class, and my professor is big on knowing the culture. It is the first Spanish class I have taken where I feel I am actually learning something. My lower level classes were mainly just me memorizing to get by. In her class were are constantly looking at news articles, doing culture projects, and watching movies about different Spanish speaking countries. She pretty much makes is a requirement we put ourselves in the culture. It is still hard for me to learn a language, but this has made the process a lot less stressful.

  3. rguenthe

    I have been required to take a language in school every since the first grade starting with Spanish. When I became a freshman in high school I had a choice what to take so I picked German because I had been to Germany and my whole family is from there. I already knew a little bit so that might have helped, but I found it a lot interesting and easier to learn German over Spanish. I guess this is because I knew more about the culture. Even last semester when I took a Spanish class I found it easier to comprehend, possibly because our professor had us make PowerPoints and present on different Spanish speaking countries and their cultures.

  4. kharner

    Well this is very goof information to know. I am studying abroad in Spain this summer and now I’m debating between a grammar class and Spanish culture class. The latter sounds more fun and if it is helpful with language ability that is a win-win. Also from high school, we learned a lot of culture of spanish speaking countries and i think it definitely did help, and got me more interested in the language. Maybe it creates retrieval cues as well. Like if you have a cultural reference you can remember words and phrases easier.

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