Language is Culture and Culture is Language

Thursday 24 July 2014

“I think my French has improved a little bit but I think that the whole experience is more important than that. I learnt a lot of things during my exchange and I think that I came back a different person from when I left Australia. For me, the most important things are that I am more open to new experiences…”

These few lines, written by a former St Catherine’s student after her exchange to France, prompted me to write this article.

Have you ever wondered what it really means to learn a language? Is it more than learning new words, sounds and grammar rules?

The belief that is becoming more and more prevalent is that learning a language is much more than learning the mechanics of language, and that the process is, in fact, about making links between language and culture. We could not understand a culture without having direct access to its language because of their intimate connection.

Communication with people from other countries is fraught with dangerous misunderstandings if we ignore culture. Have you ever found yourself in an awkward position while overseas because you were unaware of the local practices? I have!

A distinction, however, needs to be made between learning about the culture of the other country (or countries), which emphasises the culture of the other; and learning culture through an intercultural perspective, which emphasises our own culture as a vital part of engaging with a new culture. In other words, to fully understand the culture of the ‘other’, we need to be able to relate our own values and traditions to others’.

For example, by learning the language and practices related to gift-giving / receiving in Japan or China, learners are given the opportunity to reflect on their own traditions, thus understanding the underpinning cultural conceptions related to the practice. By taking part in role plays aimed at mimicking greeting people in a French-speaking country, learners are able to experience and reflect on the language used. By comparing it to their own, they will then be in a position to analyse the register and level of language used in both cultural environments.

Language and culture are inherently linked and it is impossible not to consider intercultural understanding as an intrinsic component of the language curriculum. The aim is for learners to be able to challenge their own beliefs and for teachers to ask questions that may trigger students’ critical reflection.

Learning a language is not only about understanding others but also about developing a better understanding of oneself. As contact among cultures is increasing, intercultural understanding is critical for anyone wanting to understand those whose beliefs and backgrounds might be vastly different to ours.

Learning a language is learning about the behaviour of a society, its customs and language use.

Finally, for a lighter insight and an illustration of why intercultural understandings are vital in today’s society, I encourage you to watch this YouTube clip.

Ms Corinne Buzza
Faculty Leader – Languages

Previous Entries

Cyber safety Monday 21 July 2014

Cyber Safety should not be separated out and taught in isolation. Technology is fully integrated into our students’ lives and it doesn't make sense (to them) to deal with it as a separate issue.
Read more »

The advantages of girls’ participation in sport Thursday 17 July 2014

Taking part in team sport provides girls with many valuable lessons about themselves and life in general, argues Miss Jeanette Gunn, St Catherine’s Dean of Year 11
Read more »

Archived Entries

July 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

09.06.2014Engaging in STEM

June 2014

June 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

22.05.2014La Vie Française

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

01.05.2014Beauty in Numbers

April 2014

28.04.2014The Right Mindset

April 2014

April 2014

March 2014

31.03.2014The Value of Play

March 2014

27.03.2014The History Wars

March 2014

24.03.2014Skills for Life

March 2014

20.03.2014Creative Thinking

March 2014

March 2014

March 2014

07.03.2014A moment in time

March 2014

February 2014

February 2014

24.02.2014Academic Fitness

February 2014

February 2014

February 2014

14.02.2014Tween to teen

February 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

December 2013

11.12.2013For Thought

December 2013

December 2013

December 2013

04.12.2013For Thought

December 2013

November 2013

29.11.2013Taming disorder

November 2013

27.11.2013For Thought

November 2013

November 2013

November 2013

20.11.2013For Thought

November 2013

18.11.2013Testing times

November 2013

15.11.2013Spark and passion

November 2013

13.11.2013For Thought

November 2013

November 2013

November 2013

06.11.2013For Thought

October 2013

30.10.2013For Thought

October 2013

October 2013

25.10.2013Softly, softly

October 2013

23.10.2013For Thought

October 2013

October 2013

October 2013

16.10.2013For Thought

October 2013

October 2013

October 2013

09.10.2013For Thought

September 2013

September 2013

18.09.2013For Thought

September 2013

September 2013

September 2013

11.09.2013For Thought

September 2013

09.09.2013Leading the way

September 2013

September 2013

04.09.2013For Thought

September 2013

02.09.2013Great expectations

August 2013

August 2013

28.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

August 2013

August 2013

21.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

August 2013

August 2013

14.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

August 2013

August 2013

07.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

05.08.2013Marvellous music

August 2013

July 2013

31.07.2013For Thought

July 2013

July 2013

July 2013

24.07.2013For Thought

July 2013

22.07.2013Welcome to Term 3

July 2013

July 2013

17.07.2013For Thought

June 2013

21.06.2013By the book

June 2013

19.06.2013For Thought

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013

05.06.2013For Thought

June 2013

May 2013

May 2013

29.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

May 2013

May 2013

22.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

May 2013

May 2013

15.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

May 2013

May 2013

08.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

06.05.2013Testing times

May 2013

May 2013

01.05.2013For Thought

April 2013

April 2013

26.04.2013Being in the zone

April 2013

24.04.2013For Thought

April 2013

22.04.2013Inspiring women

April 2013

April 2013

17.04.2013For Thought

April 2013

March 2013

March 2013

27.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

March 2013

March 2013

20.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

March 2013

13.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

12.03.2013A busy week ahead

March 2013

March 2013

06.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

March 2013

01.03.2013Balance and care

February 2013

27.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

February 2013

February 2013

20.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

February 2013

February 2013

13.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

February 2013

06.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

January 2013

31.01.2013For Thought

December 2012

December 2012

December 2012

05.12.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

28.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

21.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

14.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

08.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

October 2012

31.10.2012For Thought

October 2012

October 2012

24.10.2012For Thought

October 2012

October 2012

17.10.2012For Thought

October 2012

October 2012

10.10.2012For Thought

September 2012

19.09.2012For Thought

September 2012

September 2012

12.09.2012For Thought

September 2012

September 2012

05.09.2012For Thought

August 2012

31.08.2012Family Ties

August 2012

29.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

22.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

15.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

08.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

01.08.2012For Thought

July 2012

July 2012

25.07.2012For Thought

July 2012

20.07.2012Welcome to Term 3

July 2012

19.07.2012For Thought

June 2012

20.06.2012For Thought

June 2012

June 2012

13.06.2012For Thought

June 2012

June 2012

06.06.2012For Thought

June 2012

May 2012

31.05.2012For Thought

May 2012

May 2012

23.05.2012For Thought

May 2012

May 2012

May 2012

09.05.2012For Thought

May 2012

May 2012

02.05.2012For Thought

April 2012

April 2012

April 2012

18.04.2012For Thought

April 2012

March 2012

March 2012

28.03.2012For Thought

March 2012

March 2012

March 2012

March 2012

06.03.2012For Thought

March 2012

March 2012

01.03.2012For Thought

February 2012

February 2012

23.02.2012For Thought

February 2012

20.02.2012The Week Ahead

February 2012

February 2012

February 2012

February 2012

01.02.2012For Thought

January 2012

January 2012

17.01.2012Happy New Year!

December 2011

December 2011

07.12.2011For Thought

December 2011

December 2011

02.12.2011Teaching Character

December 2011

November 2011

November 2011

25.11.2011Inspiration

November 2011

November 2011

November 2011

November 2011

16.11.2011For Thought

November 2011

November 2011

11.11.2011Privacy

November 2011

November 2011

November 2011

04.11.2011Why music matters

November 2011

02.11.2011For thought

October 2011

October 2011

26.10.2011For Thought

October 2011

October 2011

21.10.2011Math Anxiety

October 2011

19.10.2011For Thought

October 2011

October 2011

October 2011

12.10.2011For Thought

October 2011

September 2011

16.09.2011School holidays

September 2011

14.09.2011For Thought

September 2011

September 2011

September 2011

07.09.2011For Thought

September 2011

September 2011

August 2011

31.08.2011For Thought

August 2011

August 2011

August 2011

24.08.2011The value of time

August 2011

August 2011

19.08.2011Active life

August 2011

17.08.2011For Thought

August 2011

August 2011

12.08.2011One Person

August 2011

10.08.2011For Thought

August 2011

08.08.2011A Glorious Gala

August 2011

August 2011

August 2011

July 2011

July 2011

27.07.2011For Thought

July 2011

July 2011

July 2011

21.07.2011A new term

July 2011

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

24.06.2011Language Education

June 2011

22.06.2011Time

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

15.06.2011Humankind

June 2011

14.06.2011Making plans

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

03.06.2011For a better world

June 2011

May 2011

May 2011

May 2011

25.05.2011For Thought

May 2011

23.05.2011Foundations

May 2011

20.05.2011Homework

May 2011

18.05.2011For Thought

May 2011

16.05.2011Sleep

May 2011

May 2011

May 2011

09.05.2011Truth

May 2011

06.05.2011Leadership

May 2011

May 2011

02.05.2011The pool is ours!

April 2011

29.04.2011NAPLAN

April 2011

27.04.2011Beauty

April 2011

April 2011

06.04.2011Life lessons

April 2011

04.04.2011Celebration

April 2011

01.04.2011Courage

March 2011

30.03.2011For Thought

March 2011

March 2011

25.03.2011Growing up

March 2011

March 2011

21.03.2011A busy week

March 2011

18.03.2011Decision making

March 2011

March 2011

March 2011

11.03.2011Bricks and Mortar

March 2011

09.03.2011For Thought

March 2011

March 2011

March 2011

February 2011

28.02.2011Our Busy School

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

16.02.2011A GOOD FOUNDATION

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

04.02.2011A new year

February 2011

02.02.2011For Thought

December 2010

December 2010

06.12.2010The Final Week

December 2010

December 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

24.11.2010For Thought

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

17.11.2010For Thought

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

October 2010

October 2010

27.10.2010For Thought

October 2010

October 2010

October 2010

October 2010

18.10.2010VCE and VET

October 2010

October 2010

13.10.2010For Thought

October 2010

October 2010

08.10.2010Welcome to Term 4

October 2010

06.10.2010For Thought

October 2010

04.10.2010Term 4 begins

September 2010

September 2010

08.09.2010For Thought

September 2010

September 2010

September 2010

August 2010

August 2010

27.08.2010Opportunity

August 2010

25.08.2010For Thought

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

18.08.2010For Thought

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

11.08.2010For Thought

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

02.08.2010Affirmations

July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

21.07.2010For Thought

July 2010

19.07.2010Three Threads

July 2010

July 2010

14.07.2010For Thought

July 2010

13.07.2010Term 3 Begins

June 2010

June 2010

23.06.2010For Thought

June 2010

June 2010

June 2010

16.06.2010For Thought

June 2010

15.06.2010Sound and Song

June 2010

June 2010

09.06.2010For Thought

June 2010

June 2010

June 2010

02.06.2010For Thought

May 2010

May 2010

May 2010

26.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

May 2010

May 2010

19.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

17.05.2010A Musical May

May 2010

May 2010

12.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

10.05.2010The Week Ahead

May 2010

May 2010

05.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

03.05.2010A busy week ahead

April 2010

April 2010

28.04.2010Opportunity

April 2010

April 2010

April 2010

21.04.2010For Thought

April 2010

April 2010

April 2010

14.04.2010For Thought

April 2010

12.04.2010Time for a Change

March 2010

March 2010

25.03.2010Community Service

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

18.03.2010House System

March 2010

March 2010

16.03.2010A Mingling Group

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

05.03.2010Our Word Managers

March 2010

March 2010

03.03.2010Intensive Swimming

March 2010

March 2010

01.03.2010Coffee Mornings

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

22.02.2010Twilight Tour

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

16.02.2010Happy Snaps

February 2010

February 2010

12.02.2010My School Website

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

03.02.20102010 Parent Events

February 2010

02.02.2010Year 12 Camp

February 2010

01.02.2010Day One

December 2009

December 2009

December 2009

December 2009

01.12.2009A hive of activity

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

26.11.2009A Happy Lunch

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

23.11.2009Expeditions

November 2009

20.11.2009Year 10 Odyssey

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

17.11.2009Year 6 Graduation

November 2009

16.11.2009The final weeks

November 2009

13.11.2009Our Prep experts

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

06.11.2009A Staff Award

November 2009

November 2009

October 2009

30.10.2009VCE Exams commence

October 2009

October 2009

28.10.2009New Parent Night

October 2009

27.10.2009House Swimming

October 2009

October 2009

23.10.2009A Poem

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

20.10.2009Year 8 Camp

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

14.10.2009First impressions

October 2009

13.10.2009A Busy Night!

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

06.10.2009Building work

September 2009

11.09.2009End of Term

September 2009

September 2009

September 2009

September 2009

September 2009

04.09.2009Healthy Meals

September 2009

03.09.2009UN Convention

September 2009

02.09.2009Annie Jr

September 2009

01.09.2009Eisteddfod Success

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

25.08.2009Book Safari

August 2009

August 2009

21.08.2009Maths Games Day!

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

17.08.2009Athletics Update

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

11.08.2009Rumors!

August 2009

August 2009

07.08.2009Music Recitals

August 2009

August 2009

05.08.2009Our Reunions

August 2009

August 2009

July 2009

31.07.2009Tree Planting Day

July 2009

July 2009

29.07.2009Cybersafety

July 2009

28.07.2009Gala Concert 2009

July 2009

27.07.2009Sherren Steps

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

14.07.2009Term 3 Begins

June 2009

26.06.2009Last Day of Term

June 2009

25.06.2009Our Move to E-News

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

17.06.2009On Track Data

June 2009

16.06.2009MAD Art

June 2009

15.06.2009Annual Giving

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

10.06.2009Public Speaking

June 2009

09.06.2009Netball Finals

June 2009

June 2009

04.06.2009Passionate Parents

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

01.06.2009Preps in Action

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

25.05.2009Sport for Thought

May 2009

May 2009

21.05.2009Down to Business

May 2009

May 2009

19.05.2009Budding Artists

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

11.05.2009A Special Delivery

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

04.05.2009Year 12 Formal

May 2009

01.05.2009A Note of Praise

April 2009

April 2009

29.04.2009Market Preparation

April 2009

28.04.2009On a Musical Note

April 2009

27.04.2009Intensive Swimming

April 2009

April 2009

23.04.2009Our School Photo

April 2009

22.04.2009Dido and Aeneas

April 2009

21.04.2009Welcome Back!

April 2009

03.04.2009Happy Holidays

April 2009

02.04.2009Italy Study Tour

April 2009

March 2009

March 2009

30.03.2009Year 11 Formal

March 2009

March 2009

26.03.2009DAT Testing

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

17.03.2009Year 8 Highlights

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

06.03.2009Our School Opera

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

03.03.2009Into the Swing

March 2009

02.03.2009Circus Time!

February 2009

27.02.2009Year 1 Highlights

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

24.02.2009Surf League

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

16.02.2009Class of 2008

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

11.02.2009Sustainability

February 2009

February 2009

09.02.2009Bushfires

February 2009

06.02.2009A Busy Day

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009