Which Language Should I Learn

19

Have you picked the right language?

Once I read in a blog the following statement: “Pick the culture, not the language”.

It stuck in my head immediately because the reason I started learning English in the first place is due to the American and British culture.

I have always been drowned in everything American related. From the music, to the movies, to the books and so on.

English has always been and will always be a huge part of my life because I love everything about English-speaking countries!

That’s why today’s question is: “Can you learn a language if you don’t like its culture?”

Think about it.

Language and culture are two sides of the same coin.
You can’t separate them.

You may be forced to learn a particular language for work duties or something, but the learning process will definitely be so much harder and longer.
To become fluent you have to be immersed in the language AND the culture: from the media to the people and their traditions.

Imagine yourself disliking the Arabic culture and yet having to spend all your time surrounded by it: watching Arabic TV shows, listening to Arabic music, reading Arabic magazines. It doesn’t sound good, right?

According to me, there should be an emotional or personal reason to take on a particular language. You can’t pick up Mandarin just because everyone is studying it and it sounds like a “cool” or “useful” language to learn.

Make sure to have a real purpose for learning the language of your choice. Ask yourself exactly why you’re doing it.

I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s extremely important.
Don’t choose poorly. If you do it, chances are that you’ll lose interest quickly and end giving up.

If your heart is screaming for German, then go for it. Otherwise, there are plenty of other languages to pick.

You have to spend hours, days, months, years practicing a particular tongue so you better have a good reason for learning it.

Don’t you agree?

Chiara Grandola

Hey there! I'm Chiara, also known as Claire on the language learning community. I'm deeply in love with any form of art, different cultures and... guess what?! Yes, languages!

  • Yes, you have to be interested in at least some part of the culture. If you don’t want to learn more about the country or communicate with people, it’ll be hard to keep on going.

    Your interest can change over time though. While I enjoyed learning French in school and trips there as a child, when I went there last autumn I wasn’t so fascinated and struggled with motivation. I hope that never happens with Vietnamese!

    • What a coincidence! I have a love/hate relationship with French. I learned it at school as well, but my experience wasn’t good at all! Now, however, I absolutely want to improve my skills because I have a strong desire to visit Nice and Paris. I’ve never been there. What about your motivation now? Are you still struggling with French?

      I agree with you, by the way. Your interest can definitely change over time.
      I’m pretty sure it won’t happen with Vietnamese, though! I may be wrong, of course, but it seems like your relationship with Vietnamese is like mine with English. We’re hooked! 🙂

      • That sounds like you have a good, motivating reason to work on your French. Have you set a date for visiting France?

        I’m still finding it difficult to find something interesting enough that compels me read or watch in French. I watched a couple of documentaries while I was there (in fact one of them was about Vietnam!) but nothing really grabbed me.

        Yes, I hope you’re right. It’s great to be hooked on a language!

        • I haven’t decided a date yet, but I’m working on it! 🙂 Which cities of France have you visited?

          Oh, I know the feeling. It would probably help having some French friends, wouldn’t it?

  • Lu

    I agree with you. I think motivation is the most important driving force in language learning (and in every kind of learning). Finding a job, making money or getting better grades are good motivations, but the passion and the love for a culture are, in my opinion, the biggest motivations to keep going and reach your goal.

    • Well said! We share the same point of view 🙂

    • As an adult I’ve been to Paris and Lille. Both lovely! Yeah, having French friends would be a great help. It should be possible to find some even without going to France.

      • Definitely! I haven’t made any French friends yet, but I’m planning on making some soon! 😉

  • Completely agree! By many people’s standards Italian would not be classed as a “useful” language and I have occassionally thought about how much more useful it would have been to choose French or Portuguese, but I fell in love with Italian culture first.

    • You made the right choice, Settit, that’s for sure! 😉
      Now you have the right attitude and the motivation to keep learning Italian!

  • When I started learning Italian, a friend of mine said that Italian was pointless to learn because no one spoke it in the USA. I told him that I wasn’t learning it for any reason other than I love Italian culture and want to have a tiny part of it in me.

    Even if I’m not Italian.

    • The Italian language has the bad reputation of not being useful, I’m glad you don’t care about that! It’s beautiful that you want to immerse in the Italian culture! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the history, arts, nature, food and so on 😉

  • Definitely! Culture and language go hand in hand and I learn so much about a culture from the language they use!
    I have always loved Holland and so have recently started learning Dutch. For the same reason, Burmese is high on my list of languages to learn because the country is amazing and means a lot to me. Even though there’s very little resources out there to help me with Burmese, I think my will to learn it will be what pushes me through…we’ll see! 🙂

  • Definitely! I have just started learning Dutch because I’ve always loved the country and the culture.
    Even though there’s not many resources to do so, learning Burmese is high on my language learning list because the country is very special to me. I think my will to learn it will overcome the lack of resources! We’ll see! 🙂

    • ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ 😉

  • Everything makes sense now! 🙂 I usually choose my languages on a gut feeling rather than a tangible reason. I totally agree with you and I now realize that as soon as I found myself fascinated by a culture I felt compelled to learn its language as well. And that’s why French and Dutch feel so natural, while German seems almost impossible.

  • Dylan and Claire I so agree with you. I am planning to learn Italian coz I loved the country and people. When I told my friends they said it was pointless too!! But I don’t care ..really 😉 It gives me happiness and that’s all that matters and I too want to have a part of it in me <3 So I will learn

  • Cristiano

    This is a very important point indeed! I agree with you on the whole, but a culture has lighths and shadows and sometimes our judgement about a culture is not so unilateral. From my point of view, just to say an example, I like some sides of American culture like the importance of journalism (the fifth power…, a real watchdog of democracy), the literature (I love some writers like Cormac McCarthy and Alice Munro), the cinema (Martin Scorsese, of course), but I don’t like some common behavior that have become culture (a tendence to make everything a show, too much attention to success and money) and, as you say, these sidews can affect my interest and effectiveness in learning English. The choice of the language is not so easy for everybody, there are rational factors and feeling ones to consider. Probably the feeling factors are more important, and the younger you are, the easier the choice is…

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