Do we learn about the culture in the new language or our own?
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here
Today. I'm going to continue on this whole subject of exploring the cultures and the histories of, of the, you know, the people and the, and the language group that we're studying. Uh, remember if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe. Uh, you can tap or click on the bell to get notifications and, uh, I welcome you to come and join me at LingQ.
Where I learn languages. So I'm now of course doing my Persian. I'm doing a little bit of Mini Stories, not too much because I've listened to them so often I'm kind of tired of them, but I know they do me good. It's like having a workout in the gym. Working certain, uh, you know, core muscles because they're the core structures, but then the core structures will show up elsewhere as well.
So I'm kind of spending most of my time now on the history of Iran, 26 episodes by, uh, Sahra, who is our collaborator in Iran. And I like listening to her voice. And, uh, so th the, um, you know, one of the questions that comes up is. You know, uh, are you, do you get a better understanding of the country, the history, et cetera, if you do it in the language, as opposed to doing it, say in English or French or a language that I'm more comfortable in?
So I gave that some thought and I kind of break it down this way. Uh, it's always easier for me to read in English and than in most languages, possibly with the exception of French, which I can read quite comfortably. Um, and Spanish. I mean, those are easy to read anytime you're in a different writing system, like Japanese, Chinese, Russian, it's just a little more difficult.
Because you're, you haven't read as many millions and millions of words in those writing systems as you have in your, you know, most familiar writing system. Uh, so it's easy for me. I it's instant meaning I can leaf through the book. I get it. I it's instant meaning. So that's always easier than reading about the country,
say in Chinese, which I read fairly comfortably, or let's say in Persian, which I don't read very comfortably. It's easier to read in English. But what I found is if you can listen to an audio book about the history and I have done this, uh, even historical novels, like, uh, I promessi sposi in Italian, you know, I like these, uh, but listening to the history of Russia, the history of Ukraine, uh, the history of Poland, I've listened to in Polish.
Now hearing the history of. Of Per... of, of Iran, fortunately sort of simplified for me because Sahra has produced this wonderful series with audio and text and circling questions. So it's, it's digestible, but digestible, but still it's the fact that I'm connecting. There is a resonance there. I am connecting with the country, the history, the language.
And that it gives me a level of depth of, of sort of resonance that I don't get in the book. If I'm looking for information, I want to find out what happened, you know, Sahra talks about the, you know, because each one of her episodes deals with a different dynasty. So it's the 15th century, the Mongolian inva... invasions or the, uh, (Persian) or whatever period.
If I really wanted to delve into that and get more in-depth knowledge, I would probably end up reading in English. And in fact, someone on Twitter, and even a person here recommended a book on the history of Iran. And I have actually ordered those from Kindle. So I will be reading those in English, but...
listening to it is a degree of resonance. Now it has to be well narrated. It has to be by a person with a pleasant voice and good quality sound. Very often that means a professional narrator, an audio book, and I have. Behind me, tons of audio books, uh, Czech history, you know, the (Czech) had this (Czech) , which was a history of, of the Czech people within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Holy Roman Empire or whatever.
Um, so that I love doing, but I cheat because to really catch up on what happened in those histories, I end up reading in English because it's just that much easier. Um, so, but the connection, it brings you closer, that... and especially, and this is another important point. I think a lot, I stress listening.
I always say I spend, most of my time listening. Someone asked me how much time do I spend reading every day? Well, you know, I probably listen an hour between working out and cleaning up and so forth. But the reading, say on my iPad in LingQ is maybe 30, 40, 50 minutes a day. But I also read another half hour or more in English a day.
Uh, but the, uh, when you're listening, you know, it's so very important that the voice that you like the voice that the voice has a resonance. I still remember some of the, uh, books I listened to say Ukrainian history. I can't even remember the professor's name, but he had a wonderful sort of, there was a certain whether it was the intonation or the voice it was pleasing.
And so it's very important. And that's where very often, uh, the audio that accompanies texts, teaching, whatever it might be, even Persian or Japanese, English, uh, French, if it isn't, if there is no resonance that if it's not pleasant to listen to. Then it's, um, you know, that kind of defeats the purpose. So in a way, reading is for information, reading is to find out more about the culture of the history and so forth.
And, uh, the listening is for the connection, the resonance, the emotion, uh, that ties you to the language and gives you that sense that you're sort of participating. So I hope that explains it. So I still think we rely on reading in our own language. Uh, in order to cover more ground and learn more about the country.
And, and when we're reading in our own language, you're not even conscious of reading. It's just meaning, uh, whenever you're reading in a foreign language, you were sort of, to some extent your sub-vocalizing, you're kind of parsing, you're looking up words. It just takes much, much longer. I know it say when I'm going through the, uh, history of Iran and sentence by sentence, in sentence-view at LingQ.
Uh, I turned on the Google Translate... bang, I got the meaning right away. Now I go word for word through the, you know, Farsi, the Persian, and it takes much, much longer. It's, it's a bit of a journey across going of course, right to left, across all those words, looking at the odd one I don't know. Even if I know them all, it takes me much longer to read it.
Whereas the meaning in English, it's just there. However, the listening, the listening is what I take away with me that I hear over and over again. I hear the same, uh, words over and over again. And they gradually become part of me because I hear them. And I hear them, uh, you know, in a voice that is pleasant to me.
So there you have it, you know, your own language, the target language to explore the culture, the history of the country, the pros and cons of each. Thank you. Bye.