The best way to learn about another country’s culture is through its language. This is especially important for students who shift to a new place to pursue an internship or for higher education. When you have learned a new language you don’t have to worry about carrying a translator or a dictionary to constantly refer and interpret what to say to the natives of that country. There’s more learning taking place when you’re actually conversing with a native than just browsing a dictionary because you get to experience new words, observe people’s expressions and body language within its cultural environment.
Some may not be familiar with the fact, but Chinese is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. It is no hyperbole when they say that no matter where you are in the world, you will find people to communicate in Chinese anywhere. It is commonly spoken in countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia, but with the population spread out all across the world you may easily find a Chinese learner in a locality near you.
Like language, culture is a structure that helps in understanding the world around us, from its surroundings and food to the people and their national attire. In order for real communication to take place, one must be fluent or learning its cultural values by showing empathy and association with the native speakers. A good language learner strives to be a good cultural learner as well. It teaches you acceptance of the new world you have discovered outside the black and white dictionary phrases and injects some humanity into your language lessons.
Let us take a look at just how they’re connected.
Language reflects the values and beliefs of a culture
People often interact with individuals at work or college who belong to a different ethnicity or cultural background. Such interactions help you understand the difference between two cultures and bring in a sense of curiosity to learn more about a new language and its contrasting beliefs.
In order to master the degrees of the Chinese language, one must open themselves to these differences that manifest in it. By simply observing the tones in idioms and metaphors in a certain language, gives you a hint into what a society believes is important.
Language reflects our perception of the world
The language we are speaking affects the way we view the world and as a result, it impacts how we choose to interact with it. It is propositioned that each specific language has an influence on the speaker’s thoughts and actions which is because different languages affect our thinking process in different ways. In simpler words, language provides insight into the history of a culture and enlightens their most profound morals and beliefs.
How this understanding affects your language learning journey
Once you have learned Chinese, you will be more considerate of the words you choose when communicating with others so you are able to clearly convey the meaning of your message. Understanding the implication of culture behind culture-rich languages such as Chinese helps foreigners in grasping the connotations of specific words and phrases. People often use words without knowing the meaning of what they are saying which leads to embarrassing situations and could even offend others.
Most of us have our own assessment and impressions of a certain culture or language based on personal experiences or hearsay, but it is preferred to go into mastering a new language without any pre-conceived notions.
While it does not have to be an in-depth dive into the language and its history, but knowing just enough to acquire a deeper appreciation and following for the traits and rules of the language you’re attempting to learn is sufficient.
If you are thinking about improving your Chinese language skills, then follow the simple yet effective tips mentioned below:
- Converse: You should try to converse in Chinese for at least half an hour on a daily basis. Try to translate what you are thinking and have small in-person sessions with friends who can be your language exchange partners. This will greatly improve your vocabulary.
- Read: Start reading from the basic Chinese literature aimed at kids with content such as short stories, essays, and poems, and slowly transition to advanced level textbooks, novels, and essays. Reading can help a lot even it is just a joke or a riddle in Chinese.
- Listen: Listening to a podcast in Chinese or the local radio station while commuting can also help in improving your skills. You can also put a bit of effort and add dialogues in a file with their translations or the latest news articles, convert this file to PDF format using any reputable best PDF converter and then easily listen to them using the PDF text to speech feature. This level of customization can help you easily curate the content you want to practice. If you like movies and TV shows, then opt for those in Chinese so that you learn during leisure time as well.
Once you have grasped the basics, you can truly learn to appreciate the language, its culture, and people for what they are. By destroying the language barrier, you will be able to hold conversations on a much more personal and meaningful level, which gives room to formation of warm relationships and helps experience a new culture more closely. Take your new-found interest to learn a new language and incorporate it with cultural learning. You will find that each word and phrase learned carries more weight and meaning once you have developed a comprehensive understanding of its etymology.
Fortunately, in this technology-centered world, there are a variety of online Chinese-learning platforms such as Chineasy available for those with a desire to learn the language for work, studies or leisure. Such solutions provide an easy and interactive self-paced learning experience for both active students and casual learners, allowing them to familiarize themselves with the language’s basics in great detail.