Gòl·lum wrote:Apparently, people do this because they think a language is just a bunch of grammar/syntax rules, vocabulary and sounds. However, you can't really learn a language without being immersed in the culture where it belongs, because there's a lot of slang, idioms, songs, proverbs that relate to the way the people of that culture live and their history.
No, that is definitely not the reason. People don't usually think this, they just don't care. Most people don't learn languages out of love or pure interest.
1.Many people simply have to learn the language, it is obligatory, they learn enough to do their jobs, or pass their school exams, and good bye. You don't need much of a culture knowledge for many types of jobs and you don't need to be that great at the language. Most people don't even believe it is possible to get beyond B1 without moving abroad and they are not trying to do it.
2.You may need to learn a language of the culture which (or a part of which) you dislike or even hate, so compartmentalisation is a rational approach to the task. Yes, it is true that every culture has something nasty hidden in the history, if you look deep enough. But there are some languages, that simply have these things too close to the surface, at least for some learners. And you cannot usually choose to learn to understand all the nice stuff but not be bothered by the ugly. To give a completely unpolitical example or metaphor: You cannot learn to understand just the nice coworker who chats with you about baking, and not the one who tells her friend not silently enough how ugly she finds you.
3.The strength of the connection language-culture varies. As Iguanamon says, there are languages that are inseparable from the cultures. But when it comes to many others, it is different. For example, you could learn Czech/French/Italian/... just with dubbed movies and translated books, and you'd still have more options than you could digest. So, is it the language's culture too in some way, because the natives devour this imported stuff too and incorporate it in their language and thinking and cultural background, or is it not the language's culture as it is imported from elsewhere? That is an interesting question that I don't think has a clear answer.
But you definitely can learn the language with so much translated stuff without every coming in contact with anything created really by a native. You will encounter tons of idioms, slangs, proverbs there too, and they will be used correctly, it just won't be presented exactly in the reality of the target country. Anyways, I think reducing the "culture learning" to stuff like idioms and proverbs is horrible, or mentioning this as the main benefit of exploring the culture, that is really mistaken. You can memorise a book of idioms and know absolutely nothing about the culture too, that is actually not rare at all. Learning about the culture is much more than that.
I am definitely not saying that the "sterile" approach to language learning is the best, I guess my own path is a proof of the opposite. I just don't think that people trying to separate it and learn just the tools they need deserve such a harsh judgement.