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Cultural Differences

Cultural Differences

This blogpost is about some funny things I have discovered by living in a culture different from my own and speaking its language fluently



One of my greatest discovery over my travels is the enormous differences between the way cultures think. Cultures differ and that difference is reflected in the official language of the culture. It maybe shocking but learning a language is mostly about understanding the culture and the way the culture thinks.


Let me give you an example of some cultural differences:

In the UK, when you make a mistake with regards to an authority like a parking company, it is often that you do not receive a fine but a ‘warning’ with some educational material explaining what you should do differently. Also, it is a general practice to provide a simplified version of complicated laws, rules and regulations to ensure that you understand your rights and your obligations. The general attitude of the culture is ‘educating’.  Hungary has a different attitude. In Hungary mistakes are often punished. The cultures believes in the redemptive power of punishment.


By definition, “Cultural differences range from differences in language and dress to body modification, beliefs, mores, landscapes, and even gear. Cultural differences arise constantly and are diffused throughout the physical world as people move, or through the Internet.” Source


When you are learning a language you are also studying the culture. Without understanding the culture you speak a language that is somehow between your mother tongue and the language you are studying. When you speak, you use words that are from the new language but the concepts you are expressing are still that of your mother tongue.


This is the reason why we teach the ‘living language’. It is really important that you not only learn the words that express your culture and personal thoughts but that you immerse yourself in the various elements of the cultural ‘differences’.


If you want to ‘ lean’  English with me, get in touch by clicking on the pictures below.





In this blogpost, you can learn about the importance of play by using your hands. The video in the blog talks about the research behind the play theory. 



Frank Wilson is a neurologist, Nate Johnson is a mechanic. He taught mechanics in a high school in Long Beach, and found that his students were no longer able to solve problems. And he tried to figure out why. And he came to the conclusion, quite on his own, that the students who could no longer solve problems, such as fixing cars, hadn’t worked with their hands.


Frank Wilson had written a book called “The Hand.” CLICK HERE to see the book. Now JPL, NASA and Boeing, before they will hire a research and development problem solver — even if they’re summa cum laude from Harvard or Cal Tech — if they haven’t fixed cars, haven’t done stuff with their hands early in life, played with their hands, they can’t problem-solve as well.


So play is practical, and it’s very important. Now one of the things about play is that it is born by curiosity and exploration.


The program says that the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression. And I think if you think about life without play – no humor, no flirtation, no movies, no games, no fantasy and, and, and. Try and imagine a culture or a life, adult or otherwise without play.


And the thing that’s so unique about our species is that we’re really designed to play through our whole lifetime.


So what I would encourage on an individual level to do, is to explore backwards as far as you can go to the most clear, joyful, playful image that you have, whether it’s with a toy, on a birthday or on a vacation. And begin to build from the emotion of that into how that connects with your life now. And you’ll find, you may change jobs — which has happened to a number people when I’ve had them do this — in order to be more empowered through their play. Or you’ll be able to enrich your life by prioritizing it and paying attention to it. …


Learn more about THE HAND and the research presented in the book in this video:




Language Acquisition

Language Acquisition

Back to Basics – Language Acquisition @ Large!
Patricia Kuhl studies how we learn language as babies, looking at the ways our brains form around language acquisition.


Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another — by listening to the humans around them and “taking statistics” on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.






In this blog post I emphasize the importance of prioritizing.


Making something a priority means that you don’t make excuses. You go for it full on with commitment. Yes, life is busy. Most of us are busy. We have a lot to do. You can still have priorities. We all do. We may not chose them consciously but when we start observing our behaviour it becomes obvious what our priorities are.


Making studying a language a priority is difficult if you do not have a strong enough motivation to make it a priority.  Before we can place learning a new language higher on our priority list we need to sit down and figure our why we want to learn the language and what we want to use it for. We must find a strong enough motivator that will hold us countable, daily.


It seems to me that most people do not even have a priority list. They just go with the ‘ flow’ . They often give into the pulls of the world and whatever has the stronger pull, they just make that a priority. When we do not prioritize the ‘items’ of our life, we let ourselves down.


We maybe motivated to learn a new language because we want to move aboard or a holiday is coming up abroad, or there is a promotion in the pipeline and we still not find the time to practise. This is when we allow ourselves to be distracted by somethin or someone. This is when we say YES to things that we should be saying NO to.


Maybe it is time to notice these moments of choice where we make someone else’s priorities more important!


Here is a coaching task on ‘checking your priorities’! Have fun with it!


Your Priorities in Life

List of Priorities

Make a list of everything that is most important to you in life.

DRAW a circle and slice it up like a cake. Look at this chart below and find different areas of life where you may have priorities. List at least one priority for each slice. See examples below.


For example:

  • particular relationships such as partner, family or friends
  • having stimulating or rewarding work
  • being well respected
  • making the most of your creative talents
  • living in a home where you feel comfortable
  • being in good health
  • physical fitness
  • partaking in sports
  • spiritual wellbeing
  • being a respected member of a particular group or community
  • independence
  • having time to relax
  • taking on challenges
  • speaking a foreign language fluently
Now do your best to order these in order of importance with the most important first. 


Now, limit the list to the top five priorities for you. You can change the list but it is best to just take out the first five on your present list. Go through them again and CHECK if they are truly your priorities or someone else’s. If they are not really yours, do the task again until the first 5 priority is truly yours. When you found them, can you  somehow commit to achieving them with a timeline?


Once you have got your list in order of importance, spend a few minutes reflecting on how the current way that you spend your time matches (or doesn’t match as the case may be) the order of your priorities. In the light of your reflection on your priorities are you happy with how you are now living or is there anything you would like to adjust in your typical daily or weekly schedule to allow you to focus more time and energy on your priorities? If there is, then make a commitment – even if only a small one – as to how you will adjust your use of time in the desired way.


Making Decisions

If you have decisions to make and are not sure what option to choose, you can use the list you have created as a benchmark to help you decide what you want to do. This does not mean that in every situation you will choose an option that reflects the number 1 priority on your list, merely that in making your choices you will at least be aware of the different competing priorities that may inform the choices you make and you can make a decision based on how you would like to balance the priorities or follow one rather than another.



If you want to ‘ lean’  English with me, get in touch by clicking on the pictures below.



Inside the language

Inside the language

In this blogpost I discuss the difference between speaking a language vs speaking ‘inside a language’.



In this post, I share some tips on becoming fluent in a foreign language. I will also attempt to share my thoughts on the difference between speaking and understanding a language from a linguistic and literary point of view or speaking a language from ‘inside out’.


Sometimes people ask me “why did you say it ‘like that'”? Well, it is because ‘it feels right’. I can explain the linguistic reason behind my choice of words and phrases but what is more important is that I chose my words because I want to express, as precisely as possible, what I mean.


When you don’t speak a language fluently, you chose words that are ‘approximate’. I have been there. I kept on saying ‘you know what I mean?’. It was because I felt that the phrases and words I was using somehow did not convey exactly what I meant. I was hoping that the other person was a mind-reader. 🙂


Still, today, I spend considerable amount of time searching for synonyms.  It is because I want to find the ‘very words’ that convey the meaning, I want to say.


Most people study a language and learn to speak from ‘the outside to the inside’. It means that they separate themselves from the target language as if it were a foreign entity, looking at it from the outside, something they need to conquer.


Actually, it is the other way around. During the language learning process we need to find ourselves inside the foreign language and make it our new home. As we are learning ‘how the language thinks’, we start finding how we can express who we are and what we want through ‘this way of thinking’. This is why the saying goes “you are as many people as many languages you speak” – we think differently in a foreign language


Until we keep the target language ‘foreign’ or separate from us, we cannot speak it fluently.


If you want to ‘ lean’  English with me, get in touch by clicking on the pictures below.


Tips on how to speak fluently

Tips on how to speak fluently

In this blog post I share some tips on how to ‘think’ in a foreign language



I found this article that talks about 7 science-based methods to thinking in a foreign language. The article looked interesting so I read it.


Well, I agree with some of the suggestions, but I may not agree so much with others.


Here are the tips. You can read about them in detail at the Source


1. Focus on Fluency, Not Accuracy

2. Visualize

4. If It Does Not Work, Translate Your Thoughts

5. Write in a Journal

6. Read as Often as You Can

7. Describe Your Environment


1. As a teacher, in general, I don’t agree with the first tip.  I agree that we need to focus on fluency, meaning that we should take any opportunity to listen to living language and ‘repeat’ it until it ‘sticks’. But ignoring accuracy is a mistake, I think. I have met many people in the UK who learnt the language by ‘picking it up’. They made a lot of grammatical mistakes because they never checked out what they had heard or never studied the language formally at all. They speak a language that sounds great – or not – but that is full of mistakes. It also gives the impression that the speaker is uneducated or even illiterate.


2. I think it is a great idea. As you have probably heard, the brain cannot differentiate between ‘real’ or physical experiences and the images and feelings you generate by visualizing them. Spend some time visualizing that you already speak the language you are learning and what you are using it for. Go for the feelings rather than the images! Imagine doing things in and with the new language that you truly enjoy!


3. This is what the article say: ” Some experts say that, in order to learn a language, you need to think ONLY in that language. This is certainly not something you can achieve at the beginning phases of your language learning, but you should eventually start aiming toward such ‘direct thinking’.


When you translate everything you think, you may get stuck in between words, or lose the idea along the way. But, when you think directly in the target language, you can easily detect the gaps in your knowledge and wake those dormant vocabulary phrases and words you do not use when actually speaking the language.”


I call ‘direct thinking’ ‘thinking ‘inside’ a foreign language. Speaking ‘inside the language’ means to me that you not only speak by thinking in the language but you understand the culture, the history, and ‘the way of thinking ‘*of that nation whose language you speak. *Obviously, people do not think the same way, but in my observation, different nations and regions tend to show similarities in the way they use their language and express themselves. There is this great video on the topic. CLICK


I believe that  until you ‘move inside the language’, you don’t speak  the language fluently. How can you do that? I am going to discuss in detail it in another post.


5. Well, I don’t like writing when learning another language. I often find that learners can read and write in the target language well but not able to say one correct and meaningful sentence. I would rather suggest to record your diary in the target language. Then listen to the recording and see what you could have said differently and if you can, rerecord it. You can train yourself to think in the target language by making your ‘learning’ practical and personal.


6. I think that reading a book in a foreign language is quite hard. It took me a long time to be able to read a book in a way that I could enjoy it. To be able to understand someone else’s train of thoughts and enjoy the story and the messages require high command of the language. So, reading is important; it is a great way to gain a wide passive vocabulary. However, to me, listening is more useful.


7. It think it is a good idea to find something to ‘think about’. Also, this tip reminds me of a type of Mindfulness exercise, called something like being mindful of your environment. Read more about Mindfulness here, click.  Mindfulness can help you calm down, refocus and release tension or anxiety. Here are a few VIDEOs to introduce you to Mindfulness. 







If you want to ‘ lean’  English with me, get in touch by clicking on the pictures below.