Today’s post was coming to my mind gradually as I was more and more conscious it concerns me either. Today’s topic is really important, it’s actually more important than learning the language itself, so if you learn any language now, stop by here and read!
We buy grammar books, we watch movies, we listen to music, we pass the language exams, we attend the language courses. All that we do to master one language, or to be able to communicate in it with native speakers. I would say it’s actually awesome, because you learn it because of some kind of passion you have, some kind of interest, you are motivated and so on… I would say this, but provided that this is not the only thing you do to learn this language.
Fortunately, a language is not a one-dimensioned creation that is enough to master counting down 10 000 hours to proficiency, read x books and talk x times with natives. A language is more complex, it’s deeply connected to the culture it represents, because languages are actually representatives of their cultures. By any language you can express, you can name how the given society works, what it does, how it changes. Ah, hose lonely cultures that have been forgotten by all the language learners. It’s said to say, but forgotten a little bit by me to.
Once you let yourself immerse into this language world when only learned words count, you loose this sensation of balance. You only remember about how many words you should review today and which grammar point to study.
That might be pretty stupid example, but let’s give it a try.
Imagine that you have a key to a door. You start being fascinated by both of them. You notice how the door looks like, how big it is, what colour it is, what it may lead to, maybe how old-fashioned it is, how the key works, how it looks like, etc. In essence, you know everything about those things – the key and the door. Even though you keep researching on them. In effect, you never manage to open the door. Even if the key might be located in the keyhole.
So this is what happens when we don’t really care about culture. It’s never discovered, never seen, never experienced. And people say when you know the language, you kind of become like those people, you take a different point of view, you change the perspective, but the truth is, it is not thanks to this language, it’s thanks to the culture in which discovering this language only helped. Because now and forever languages will be tools only – wonderful, powerful and beautiful, but still tools. Sure, it’s nothing pejorative in calling it “a tool”. Without them, we couldn’t even get closer to those cultures.
I’m aware I sometimes forget about it, but being so, I’m now more conscious about how to act not to forget, how to act to be cultures “the one”.
I know this is not a revealing thought, this post is nothing revolutionary, but it wasn’t my intention. I would be really happy if you sit now and think how much time you spend studying the language and how little time you have for this culture. Because, as one person has told me recently: remember that besides being able to use all those languages you learn, you should also be able to have something to talk about using those languages. So I hope we’ll all try from now on to finally push the door and meet the culture!