I am mostly away from my computer these days, that's why I answer rather late, sorry about that
I was specifically referring to your lines concerning "today's regime" and "current leading politicians" being less than suitable for discussion, due to the political nature of your accusations. Like I said, historical memory is something I can understand, and I mean no disrespect. Moreover, I admit that I do not know about the present situation with Russian businessmen in the Czech Republic. The last line here is nice, though
While you are definitely right that the contemporary politicians mean getting to a thin ice here, it is still an extremely relevant part of this topic in particular. If nothing else, those politicians are just as known (or sometimes more) than most pop stars speaking a given language. And the politics is unfortunately relevant to the learner as soon as you want to interact with the culture from a bit closer distance. I meant no offence. I just think that this thread was showing some really weird turns, completely ignoring the real world and instead inventing nonsense.
What would be the point? A few times bigger salary doesn't sound like enough?
So, for example the learner not interested in German culture at all, could still learn the language and get their hundreds of hours of input just from watching dubbed american shows (in how many languages does this forum's population watch Buffy, Friends, Peppa Pig,...) and reading translated books. It is certainly one of the possible solutions.
Sure it would "work" but what would be the point? Sounds like a tremendous waste of time.
Really, German is actually an awesome example! In Central Europe, it is a rather popular language (too bad it is being pushed out by English, that has some bad consequences). Most people learning it couldn't name even a few German singing musical bands, name more than two or three movies mentioned in their class, and speak about any tradition not mentioned in a coursebook. Yes, they could name a few writers of the classics, like Goethe, as they were learning about them at school, but hardly any contemporary author of anything.
Perhaps the German language related culture is not too popular in the region, because it is very similar to everything else around here. That might be a factor. But a more important one: people want the money and that's all for most of them.
Yet, a surprising amount gets to a solid level (still not that many in absolute numbers, since English has pushed all the continental and useful languages to the margin). And most would be even better and get safely beyond the B levels, if only they consumed more content, but they usually don't think of that, because they are not interested in German content. Dubbings would work, my Italian improved immensely and I have yet to watch an original show (not due to refusing the culture). The German learners, who would watch Friends, would be even better at the language and possibly earn even more money. They still wouldn't know much more about the German culture.
tarvos wrote: zenmonkey wrote:
Inst wrote: Disliking the politics of a specific culture makes it much harder to achieve language learning. Disliking the IJA and Japanese nationalism, for instance, makes a lot of texts in Japanese unpalatable. Not being able to stomach Communist literature takes you far away from the cultural base that underlines Russian and Chinese culture.
Aside from being extremely reductive (and stereotypical) examples of these societies - they're wrong. For example, Russian literature is objectively vast and it's greatest period (in my own opinion) has absolutely nothing to do with Communist writings.
All literature has issues. The critical reader has the capacity to reject imagery and conclusions.
Besides that, there was plenty of dissident literature - and there was the whole samizdat movement
This is an extremely valid point. The language can get us through the most basic barrier of them all: what gets out of the region/country. Either due to being or not being interesting enough for foreign media and translators, or due to being or not being allowed to leave the country.
It is a bit sad, that there are few places to discuss this. It is not that easy to get an insight into this and a learner wanting to learn language X due to its "less official" or "less stereotypical" production will still have to face two barriers:
1.the stereotypes about the learners: it is not rare to read about the experience of learners, who face unpleasant (or even dangerous) reactions for learning a language not considered appropriate around them, for any reason.
2.the language learning materials. If you want to read Chinese dissent opinions, watch Egyptian tv shows, read Russian scifi, and so on, you still need to get to that point. And deal with the fact that majority of the material for learners may have for example lots of religious references, the local cultural center with a library may be actively trying to push political agenda, and so on.
So, it is again an issue worth informing oneself about. Some learners will love the opportunity to get behind the filters and will find the path to that goal worth walking and fascinating too, others will not find the rewards fitting the investments.
However, let's not forget that most people do not go that far, when considering language learning. Either they go for the profit, or for the cultural goods they already know about.
iguanamon wrote:People all over the world learn English to some extent without ever setting foot in an English-speaking country, reading any native literature or watching any of our native media.
We tend to get out of something what we put into it in life and the same goes for language-learning. Personally, I gain a more richly rewarding experience delving into a culture through its language. This is the primary reason why I learn other cultures' languages in the first place.
Could someone learn communication without delving deeply into culture? Yes. it's done all the time with ESL learners outside of English-speaking countries. Would I want to learn Spanish and know nothing of Pablo Neruda, Federico García Lorca, Almodóvar, Gabo or Tito Puente? No! That would be akin to learning to bake and eating only white bread made from processed flour... to me, all the flavor would be gone.
While people don't have to learn a culture along with a language, especially when learning a large a large pluricentric language, I feel they are missing out on a possibly enriching experience that they could have for just a bit more effort. Learning a language can open the door to that experience. It can open a learner to new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing themselves and their world, new literature, new poetry and songs. A door can be open or shut. It is up to the individual to choose to walk through it or not. Believe it or not, even English has a rich and worthy cultural heritage ranging from Shakespeare to Steven King, from V.S. Naipaul to J.M. Coetzee, from Mark Twain to Moredcai Richler, from Banjo Paterson to Bob Marley, from Flatt and Scruggs to JayZ. As people, we don't have to buy into all the cultural heritage within a language. We can and do choose what we wish to associate ourselves with in life.
Yes, this is exact.
Learning a language without learning much about its culture is possible to a larger extent, than the people with the luxury of always learning without any obligation can imagine. It is done all over the globe every day.
Yes, learning about the culture is extremely rewarding. Including learning about the less nice things sometimes. But there is a lot to discover. I would be a much poorer person without these bits of foreign cultures inside my head.
But I simply don't think people choosing to go the "as direct as possible" path to their exams and job promotions are necessarily the bad language learners. They often actually get some things "more right" than the people too focused on the culture. Their focus on acquiring the grammar and vocab and the stuff you can use should definitely inspire some of the course makers, who dissolve everything in tons of cheesy "cultural" photos, for example.
The paths for the learners wishing to "just learn the language" should be discussed too, not frowned upon as something inappropriate.