A different language is a different vision of life. Federico Fellini
I definitely agree with Fellini on this, and this is why learning a new language it’s not only acquiring vocabulary and grammar, but also becoming familiar with a new culture, that is, “a different vision of life”. There exists an inextricable link between language and culture. Thus, to fully grasp a foreign language, the learner must have cultural competence.
Achieving cultural competency is a long process which takes lots of time, curiosity and a true desire to widen one’s scope of experiences.
Awareness of the social issues and contexts surrounding another’s cultural history and upbringing is often the first level of cultural competency.
In the Wikipedia article, cultural competence refers to the “ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures”, and it comprises four components:
- Awareness of one’s own cultural bias, consciousness of one’s personal reactions to people who are different.
- Attitude towards cultural differences, ability to examine one’s beliefs and values about cultural differences.
- Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews
- Cross-cultural skills through practice to develop one’s ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.
What do you think? Are you culturally competent?
You may want to read this article called Steps to Becoming Culturally Competent Comunicators, By Dr. Julian Agyeman (PDF download). I think it’s quite interesting.