Learning a new language is more than just memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules – it's about understanding and appreciating different ways of life.

In this blog post, we explore the fascinating connection between language and culture and show you how Univerbal can help you unlock this cultural understanding as you’re learning a new language.

How language and culture connect: real-life examples


Languages aren’t created in isolation. They’re deeply intertwined with the cultures they originate from, shaped by the societal norms, traditions, and histories of the people. Every phrase, idiom, or linguistic nuance reflects a unique aspect of the culture.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

🇯🇵 The honorifics in Japanese not only tell us about the social hierarchy in Japanese society but also reflect their value for respect and harmony.

A specific example is the Japanese term "Mono no Aware" (物の哀れ). This phrase, which translates to 'the beauty of transience' or 'the pathos of things,' encapsulates the Japanese appreciation for the fleeting nature of life, the impermanence of all things. This is mirrored in many facets of Japanese culture, from the beauty of cherry blossoms that bloom brilliantly, but only briefly, each spring, to traditional arts like haiku poetry which captures a singular moment in time.

cherry blossoms japan univerbal
The cherry blossoms in Japan encapsulate the concept of “Mono no Aware”

🇩🇰 In Denmark, there's a special word: 'Hygge.' It doesn't have a direct English translation, but it's close to the feeling of cozy comfort and togetherness. Think of a cold evening spent with warm blankets, candles, good company, and maybe some hot cocoa. It's more than just being cozy; it's about cherishing the simple, peaceful moments in life. By having a word like 'hygge,' it shows that Danish culture values relaxation, simplicity, and the warmth of being together.

🇪🇸 If you’re learning Spanish, you’ll notice how the language can offer insights into the importance of family and social relationships in Hispanic cultures. This will be reflected by phrases typical for the Spanish language like “mi casa es tu casa” (my house is your house), showcasing the deep ties and open-door nature of family relationships.

This is also reflected by the numerous affectionate terms the Spanish language has, such as "cariño" (dear), "corazón" (heart), and "mi vida" (my life). These terms are not restricted to romantic relationships; they're commonly used among friends and family, indicating the warmth and closeness of interpersonal relationships.

🇫🇷 Last but not least, the French language and its culinary lexicon are a testament to the country's passion for food. Just consider the vast array of terms dedicated to bread alone: from 'baguette' to 'boule' to 'bâtard' and 'pain complet'. Then, there's the expansive vocabulary for cheese, encompassing varieties like 'camembert,' 'roquefort,' 'brie,' and 'comté’. This linguistic richness mirrors how the culinary scene in France is celebrated - no wonder France has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants compared to any other country. 😌

breads of france univerbal
A ‘baguette’, ‘boule', ‘bâtard’ and ‘pain complet’ - the French really love their bread!

The benefits of cultural understanding through language learning

As we’ve seen, language and culture are deeply intertwined - and learning a language comes hand-in-hand with learning about its culture. Understanding a culture through its language offers many benefits: it fosters empathy and broadens your worldview, helping you see life from different perspectives.

Whether you’re traveling, doing some international business, or simply interacting with people, this cultural understanding enhances your communication skills and social intelligence. It enables you to navigate different cultural landscapes with ease and confidence.

Learn more about the unique specifics of cross-cultural communication in this video.

Practical tips for cultural learning


If all this has made you curious to go ahead and dive into a new language and culture, but you’re still asking yourself how - here are some practical tips to enhance your cultural understanding:

Engage with native speakers


Native speakers can provide firsthand what textbooks cannot - cultural insights. But sometimes you don’t know that many people in your respective target language or you can’t travel right now? Fear not - Univerbal is at home where you are - and feels at home in any culture, you have a safe space where you can practice your language skills until you are ready for the real-life application.

Immerse yourself in media


Ever wondered why Bollywood movies are so colorful and long? Or why K-Dramas often revolve around themes of love and destiny? By watching movies and TV shows, you’ll not just pick up slang but also get glimpses into the heartbeats of different societies.

Similarly, reading a book set in the heart of Paris can transport you into the essence of this culture. Notice how American sitcoms might focus on humor in daily life, while European films often weave deep philosophical themes. By watching movies and TV shows from different cultures, listening to different music, and reading books you’ll be given an insight into different things like traditions and societal structures.

Take part in cultural events


Remember the vibrant colors of Holi, the Indian festival of colors, or the captivating masks and costumes of Venice Carnival? These are experiences waiting to be lived! Participate in local or virtual celebrations, be it the Mid-Autumn festival where you can savor mooncakes or a Spanish cooking workshop teaching the art of making the perfect paella. Such events, even if they're online, provide a tactile experience of global traditions and festivities.

language and culture univerbal
Festivals and events can give you a unique glimpse into the local culture

How Univerbal can facilitate your cultural learning


At Univerbal, we believe in language learning that goes beyond vocabulary lists and grammar exercises. We provide cultural context in our conversations to provide you with a more holistic understanding of the language. While practicing with real-life dialogues, you are prepared for real life - to go out there and learn about traditions, social etiquette, historical events, and popular culture related to the language you're learning.

learn about culture through language univerbal
Learn about culture with your AI conversation partner if you don’t have a native speaker to practice with. Get instant feedback on every message and correct it straight away.

Conclusion

As you’re learning to roll your 'Rs' or master the tones of Mandarin, remember you're also opening doors to a world, rich with colors, sounds, and experiences. Each language you learn is a new lens through which to view the world.

With every phrase you learn, you're not just enhancing your linguistic skills, but also stepping closer to becoming a true global citizen.

Why wait?

Start your journey of language learning and cultural discovery with Univerbal today. Sign up now!

Embrace the diverse world of languages and cultures at your fingertips. Take the first step towards becoming a global citizen.

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