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Culture when Learning a Language

Culture Understanding1

In order to learn a language well, we should also learn about the country as well as the cultures and lifestyles of the people who speak this language.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

You should write at least 250 words.

Essay

I agree that knowledge of a country’s culture helps us to communicate efficiently. But should we learn culture features at the same time we learn language, or should we learn it when we have some language experience?

The cultural context is necessary to know in order to feel the meaning of a phrase or idiom. If you have already tried to tell a joke from your home country to someone from another country, you know how hard it is. You can translate every word, but the essence of the joke will remain misunderstood. Language knowledge is essential, but knowledge of cultural features allows you to reach a new level. Without knowledge of culture you will be able to communicate in everyday terms, but won’t be able to express your feelings deeply.

One interesting example of cultural differences is English. The differences between American and British English includes meanings of vocabulary, pronunciation and idioms. Another example of the importance of the cultural aspect is using sarcasm. When we use sarcasm in our speech, the true meaning is hidden behind the seemingly correct construction of the phrase. It might be recognized only with a deep understanding of both language and the cultural environment.

It is also important to know the meaning of gestures and facial expressions. This is called nonverbal communication. If you don’t know the difference between the nonverbal expressions of your home country and a foreign country, you won’t be able to decipher the message reliably.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t forget that we live in an international world where all cultures are mixed. Speaking now with someone in English you should remember that they can be a native of Russia, Belgium, China or Turkey. It is possible that knowledge of the cultural aspects of England will not bring you a better communication, if are conversing with someone who has grown up in Japan. Perhaps the main rule of a successful conversation is mutual interest and respect, where the lack of knowledge of culture can be filled in the course of the conversation.

Summing up, I can say that knowledge of the peculiarities of a language is important, but in today’s world we have become very similar and will be able to understand each other even with lack of cultural knowledge.

Vocabulary

  • course – the way in which something progresses or develops
  • decipher – succeed in understanding, interpreting, or identifying (something)
  • essence – the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character
  • mutual – experienced or done by each of two or more parties towards the other or others
  • peculiarity – a strange or unusual feature or habit
  • seemingly – so as to give the impression of having a certain quality; apparently

Sources used in the preparation of the essay

  1. Lefroyee
  2. DxSchool
  3. EnglishForums

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