In this new series, we will be sitting down with our Founder and language expert, Steve Kaufmann for some Q&As. Each week we will be touching on topics relating to language and how it applies to LingQ’s language learning methodology.
What is the importance of culture in language study?
There are three key elements in language study. The first is the attitude of the learner, motivation and so forth. The second is the amount of time they spend learning the language. The third is their ability to notice language. I always say that language learning is more of a pull process, the learner has to learn it, the teacher can’t just teach it. So, if you think of that, it is extremely important for the language to be attractive to the learner. It affects motivation and it affects time. If you are interested in it, you are going to spend more time learning. The more interested you are in the subject, the more you notice things that are happening. Because if you are not interested, you are closed to it.
Culture is definitely one of those things that can make a language attractive. In fact, people who learn the language strictly for utilitarian purposes are going to be less motivated. People who learn it for reasons related to culture, or because they have a friend have more of an emotional attachment. So to that extent, culture can be a major motivator. Therefore an interest in the culture can mean the difference between success and lack of success. If you don’t like the culture, you don’t have to like everything, but if you like anime in Japan, or German punk music, that is culture and can be enough to motivate you.
In the end it is very hard not to learn a language without learning something about the culture. The language is a part of the culture. If you are learning the language, you are learning the culture. As a result, you are becoming part of that culture and trying to imitate it.