Is understanding the culture important, or even necessary, for learning your target language?
Although it may be possible to separate the culture from the language you are learning, I believe it can only be possible in the beginning, when you have just begun learning the basics. But why would we want to do that?
Here are some reasons I think knowing the culture is important to language learning:
Culture helps you understand
I have been studying Korean and can’t imagine attempting to understand why some things are expressed the way they are without knowing something about the culture. Learning about the Korean people and the way things are done in Korea has helped me to understand how they speak.
History, Government, People
When you learn about the people and their history, government, education system, etc. it will help you to understand news stories and articles that you will encounter as you progress in the language.
It will keep your motivation level up
An important part of language learning is keeping it interesting. The minute we get bored and lose interested in our study, it is very easy to slack or even give up completely. That’s why it is important to stay motivated. Exploring your language’s interesting culture can keep you coming back for more.
Culture for Travel
If you’re learning a language to be used on your trip, or even if that isn’t that case, when you go to that country, you will not only know the language, but the culture as well, which will be things a heck of alot easier for you during your stay.
What about Esperanto?
I have heard and read people say that Esperanto does not have a culture, because it is a constructed language and isn’t an official language in any country. Boloney. A culture does indeed exist, and it exists among the people who speak it. Esperantistoj are all over the world, in many countries. They sometimes meet in person, but there is a very large community of Esperantists on the Internet. Through conversations, news articles, chat sessions, video, and even movies in the language, a culture is created. It’s the culture of the speakers of the same language. New terms and idiomatic expressions develop, etc. Of course, I can go on about Esperanto, but that sounds like a future post. 🙂