Learning from a native language speaker helps with language acquisition, to be sure, but it also helps in one other key area. Learning in the immersion of language helps you culturally as well. It’s hard to really get a feel for the culture and beliefs of a country from textbooks. It’s best to live it rather than learn it from a book.
Let’s go over how immersion language learning prepares you culturally before you set off to your destination country.
What is Culture?
Culture can be split into two categories: tangible and intangible. Tangible culture includes those experiences that can be felt and experienced, from language and religion to food and music. You can extend that list to dress, dance, customs, arts, celebrations, traditions and holidays. A week-long trip to Mexico, for example, can give you a pretty good idea of what the culture is all about – on the surface.
Intangible culture includes those things can’t be seen or directly experienced, namely its spiritual aspects. This is essentially the backbone that forms a culture, indeed what drives it forward. Intangible culture can take a while lifetime to understand, capture and practice. Immersion in the culture can result in those valuable interactions with its people that illustrate those things that have been passed down from generation to generation. Intangible culture can’t be taught, it has to be experienced. That’s where immersion learning comes in.
Forming a Connection to Global Learning
When language and culture are taught at the same time, students enrolled in language immersion programs can connect at a deeper level. Language and culture are so deeply intertwined that you simply can’t have one without the other.
In traditional language programs, students learn academic content primarily, which leaves culture out of the equation. Without that meaningful connection, students tend to disengage over time and their interest and even ability to learn will drop off. This is why cultural practices should be immersed in all aspects of any language program.
Language that is taught with a cultural focus allows students to view the world with open eyes, gaining a global appreciation of cultures other than their own. It also allows them to more readily understand people from other cultures, forming connections that would otherwise be lost through strict academics.
Becoming a global citizen begins when we are young. When we can do this, we are better able to communicate in a variety of languages more easily and are able to view situations based on multiple perspectives.
To learn just what we mean, sign up for a free trial of BRIC, which utilizes immersion as a core principle of its systems.