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-   -   How to learn about a culture and without speaking native language? (https://www.fodors.com/community/travel-tips-and-trip-ideas/how-to-learn-about-a-culture-and-without-speaking-native-language-1646821/)

Tonya11 Jan 18th, 2018 12:19 AM

How to learn about a culture and without speaking native language?
 
Itís hard if thereís zero communication. How can you learn about a culture and meet locals without speaking their language?
Share your best practices

quokka Jan 18th, 2018 12:22 PM

If you're lucky you meet locals who speak your language well, or with whom you have a foreign language in common.
But if you really want to learn about a culture. start by learning the language. It's the key to any culture.

suze Jan 18th, 2018 01:37 PM

Just go, rent an apartment, live in a neighborhood, shops where locals shop, sit on a park bench in the plaza, attend local festivals, go to church.

My destinations have not been so exotic or out-of-the-way so there has always been someone who speaks at least a little bit of English who was willing to help me. It is possible to have at least a little more than "zero communication" even with no language, by smiling, pointing, laughing, using a map, gesturing your needs, etc.

Best practices? Open your heart and your mind, make eye contact, smile (of course only if appropriate to the culture you are in!!), help an old woman off the bus.

kja Jan 18th, 2018 04:32 PM

Use your eyes.

But why do you ask? I'm curious because you come to Fodor's once in a while, but only to post questions that sound like you are trying to write a blog or article, not actually as part of planning a trip....

NewbE Jan 18th, 2018 08:09 PM

This and the OP's other threads are transparent attempts to get content for a blog or some such.

PatrickLondon Jan 19th, 2018 03:12 AM

If you need information in your own language, look for a suitable book before you leave. If you rely on interaction with the locals, who knows who you might find.

suze Jan 19th, 2018 08:56 AM

She is not trying to hide her intent. I don't mind contributing. No need to post if you don't want to answer the question.

NewbE Jan 19th, 2018 09:06 AM

suze, there is no need to argue with my every post, either. I posted for those whose radar might not be as razor sharp as yours. People should know when they are being used, don't you agree? I nver said they can't choose to be used, however. We're all here giving IB free content, after all.

suze Jan 19th, 2018 11:45 AM

People can figure out for themselves IF they feel they are being "used". They don't need other posters to interpret for them. I am not arguing with YOUR "every post". I say the same thing to anyone here who gets in a huff about what they suspect to be a survey or someone with nefarious ulterior motives!

mlgb Jan 19th, 2018 12:35 PM


Originally Posted by kja (Post 16654137)
Use your eyes.

But why do you ask? I'm curious because you come to Fodor's once in a while, but only to post questions that sound like you are trying to write a blog or article, not actually as part of planning a trip....

I guess I had the same feeling, that plus the profile photo looks fakish....

To answer the question, I do usually eat extra yogurt and take some probiotic pills for a few weeks before I leave.

There is some interesting research about gut microbiota and one of my fellow travelers on a tour of Indonesia to remote lodges including in Sumatra, NEVER gets sick. Another in the group who is a retired MD wanted her to submit a sample to

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/new...itish-Gut.aspx

kja Jan 19th, 2018 04:51 PM

@ mlgb: Thanks for the laugh!

suze Jan 22nd, 2018 11:11 AM

Here is your other thread with the same question

toddhicks209 Jan 23rd, 2018 04:23 AM

You may turn to an interpreter and read up on the language.

undertoe Jan 23rd, 2018 12:38 PM

It seems like learning at least some of the language would be necessary for learning the culture. Granted, it's not like you can pick up a foreign language in a couple weeks, but you should have some inkling of basic things to say and ask. Outside of that, you hope for a friendly local that speaks english.

CounterClifton Jan 23rd, 2018 02:02 PM

Eh. This whole site is predicated on getting content without paying for it. As long as it's hopefully helpful to trip planners somewhere, that's the only reason I ever post stuff anyway.

Yeah, so I am not good at languages. "Best practices" I'm not sure is a phrase I could apply to our interaction in lieu of language skills. But from past interactions, I feel you can learn a lot... or at least experience a lot... without speaking. Mime may be embarrassing but pretty effective! We once had a impromptu tour of a privately owned Romanian castle off in a little village away from the beaten path. It was provided by the caretaker, who spotted me outside the fence, taking a photo. Without a shared language, he was able to show us turrets where people were hanged, original towers that were built in 1680 (helped that I knew the word "anno" from other languages), cellars/dungeons. We could have probably learned much more by knowing Romanian well, but we learned enough to make the time worthwhile and it probably felt a bit more like an adventure than would a tour in our language.

Just best, IMO, to try as hard as you can to communicate and understand anyway. It's time well spent. To not shy away from opportunities to interact just because you don't know the language well.

kja Jan 23rd, 2018 09:48 PM


Originally Posted by CounterClifton (Post 16658270)
This whole site is predicated on getting content without paying for it. As long as it's hopefully helpful to trip planners somewhere, that's the only reason I ever post stuff anyway.

You raise a fair point, CounterClifton, and one to which I can only provide my personal opinion. I have NO objection, whatsoever, to providing free input to people who at least try to give back to Fodorís Ė and Iíve often done so! Iím less comfortable with providing free advice to people who donít seem to plan to give anything back to Fodorís and -- more importantly -- who provide no assurances that they will use any information we offer in response to even complicated questions in context or with appropriate precautionary notes. JMO. To each his/her own!


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