Intercultural approaches to learning languages

Learning a foreign language is, to a great extent, about becoming familiar with a different culture and understanding another way of thinking. The educational premise behind the learning of any language is similar, but when words are expressed in another language, the grammatical elements change and are substantially influenced by the historical and cultural development of the people that articulate them. It’s not easy to approach a living language without experiencing it first, in other words, without actually exposing yourself to its everyday use and its natural, cultural development.
Foreign language textbooks present aspects of a culture, not only for the purpose of learning the language but to enable the student to become familiar with the culture. This is achieved through references to famous monuments, festivities and ceremonies, everyday habits, significant geographical and historical events, local cuisine and dress code, presented through the eyes of the people we seek to know better.
This approach to learning languages frequently surprises and motivates students. The comparison of a student’s native culture with the one being learnt is both interesting and effective, provided there are texts which compare both cultures and highlight their positive elements equally. Texts accompanied by original pictures and illustrations provide exciting, memorable references of the new culture. Knowledge embarks on a journey that combines culture, text and image in equal measure.

 

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