8 Cultural Differences between Native Speakers and English Learners

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Culture has a big role to play in the way we speak. It dictates not only which language we use, but also the way we express ourselves with different people. For example, how direct and honest people are generally varies by region. Because of these differences, it is just as important to master culture as it is language. This lesson will help you understand how native speakers think. You will learn how to improve your communication skills depending on whom you are speaking with no matter where you go in the world! Take the quiz on this lesson at http://www.engvid.com/8-cultural-differences-between-native-speakers-and-english-learners/


Hmm. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo. Hi. James from engVid. I’ve often said that learning language, a foreign language is great. In this case, you’re learning English, so congratulations. But a lot of students, they learn the language, and they kind of forget about the culture, like it doesn’t really matter. Being an English speaker, I was born in England, and the culture from England is very different from the culture from Canada, even though they are closely related. So if you can imagine the cultural difference between someone from, say, China and Canada, that would be fantastically different.

Well, as they say, as much as we’re different, we’re the same. But in this case, I want to do a lesson on eight differences in culture that if you’re learning the language, which would be important. Now, what I’ve done is shown the difference between the East and the West, because frankly, you may be from the Middle East or Asia, and you want to do business with Canadians or Americans or British people, and you should see what we think are important. And as well, this helps out English-speaking people about how we should communicate with you when we’re trying to teach you English. You like that? Let’s go to the board.

We have Mr. E, here. He wants to eat his… Let’s see. What should he eat? I’m going to suggest that he has a pizza, because that’s easy to draw, and anybody who knows me knows I’m a terrible drawer. There you go. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo. He’s having a piz-… Pepperoni pizza. What would you suggest he eat with? A knife or a fork, or chopsticks? Well, it seems obvious: Use your hands. See, when you understand, you can manipulate or use things to your advantage. Let’s go to the board.

We’ll start out with the West, which is where we are. All right? In the West, we say “respect is earned”. That means I cannot give you respect or look up to you until you have done something to show me that you deserve my respect or I should give it to you. Just because you say: “Hello, my name is” doesn’t mean anything. You have to say: “Hello, my name is, and I have done these things.” Because of that and if you do something that helps me, I will give you my respect. Okay? In the East, it’s a little different. In the East, what we say is: “respect is due to hierarchy”. Hierarchy? Well, just like the word says, think “high”, okay? The higher you are-okay?-the higher position you have. So if I come in and say: “I am Generalissimo Kareer.” You go: “Oh, I must give you great respect”, in the East, just because I am the General. I don’t have to be a good General; I just have to be a General. You must give me respect. Well, in the West, you’d have to be a good General that’s done a lot of good things.

Okay, number two: open debate is encouraged. If you’re going: “What is open debate?” Open debate is conversation, but it’s more conversation where two ideas are conflicting or they don’t go together. You think A, they think B. So you don’t both agree necessarily. Maybe you think: “I don’t agree with this person, or I don’t like everything they say”, so you have a debate, which is a conversation to try and change each other’s mind. Okay? Open debate in the West is encouraged. If you don’t like my idea, I’ll say: “Why? What’s wrong with it? Why don’t you come up with something? Tell me what you think, or tell me what’s wrong with my ideas.” The challenge, we think, brings a greater result. In other words, if you talk to me and we have a really good open debate, things should be better at the end of the debate. Let’s look at the East. In the East, open debate and confrontation is avoided. Partly, this is because in the East… Remember we talked about hierarchy? There’s a level or layers? Well, if you question someone and they are on a higher level, you are not showing them the respect they deserve, so it is almost better to do your debate… Or, not even debate, but questions in a less public area. So it is not open debate; more of a private thing with you and that person, and even then, you shouldn’t really question them, but ask questions of them. Okay? That’s number two.

Number three, let’s look at individual success and material success. In the West, they matter, it’s important. Yes, who I am is important, but it’s who I am, just myself. Have I done well in school? Have I made a lot of money?