The books in this series are what I’ve read as a part of the Language Reading Challenge. You can find out more information on how to participate in the challenge in this post and you can linkup for your January book at the bottom of this post.
Language learning. As many of you know, there is so much more to those two seemingly simple words beyond memorizing grammar or vocabulary. Languages are a part of a larger whole, they are shared by a group (or groups) of people, and they are used to express and share ideas. And when you learn the language, you want to immerse yourself as fully as possible.
Travel. Again, there is so much more to travel than jumping on a train, plane or boat and then just visiting a place. To really get the full experience, you want to immerse yourself once you arrive at your destination.
So what exactly is this thing that we’re immersing ourselves in?
The language? Err… Kind of. The physical location? Definitely not.
Whenever I start thinking about a new language or whenever I get the desire to travel someplace new, there’s something that I always do.
I spend some time learning about the culture or the place that I’m interested in. Because the culture, or elements of it, is what I find myself immersed in whenever I decide to learn a language or travel.
Early on, this isn’t anything intensive or in-depth. What I’m looking for is a general introduction and a historical overview. Just something to help me get acquainted with my new interest to gauge just how interested I am and whether or not I connect with the language that I’m planning on learning or the place that I plan on visiting.
That’s why I love the Culture Smart! series.
Things That are Covered as Part of the Culture Smart! Books
The Culture Smart! series covers a wide range of topics and it might vary slightly from book to book. Some of what you’ll see can include:
- The Land and People // This includes information on things like the government, the population, and geography
- Values and Attitudes // Information on things like identity, social relations, style and family
- Customs and Tradition // This covers things like religion, spirituality and holidays
- Life at Home // This discusses family, etiquette when invited to a home, names, and more
- Food and Entertainment // What people do for fun, information on their cuisine, and more
- Transportation // How to get around the country
- Communicating // Basic greetings, body language, social etiquette, and more
- Business Briefing // Information about how business operates in the country
- A lot more…
Things That I Really Like About the Culture Smart! Books
They’re short and succinct. They really get right to the point in each of the chapters, sharing just enough information about a variety of topics to help you get acquainted with the culture of the country you’re reading about.
They include a variety of information. Information that you’d have to scour countless websites to learn. Why spend the time when you can quickly and easily get it in a book that’s already been curated to include a nice mix of information? I love these books for their practicality.
They’re available for soooooo many different countries. It’s really fantastic and I can pick one up for almost any country I can think of.
They’re a great price. I don’t even have to think twice about picking one up. They’re all under about $10, are easy to find both online and at the local Barnes & Noble, and they are a really great value for the price.
They’re compact. And that makes them the perfect size to take them along with you wherever you go. I often have at least one or two packed into my sax case so that I can get a bit of reading in whenever I’m on the road and they fit perfectly into the small front pocket.
Things That I Think Could Be Better
On occasion the personal opinion of the author can be rather apparent, especially when it comes to the sections on interacting with the people from the country the book discusses. The books do share the personal experiences of the authors, so I understand why they’re written in the way that they are, but it sometimes feel a bit odd, especially in a book that isn’t a travel memoir.
Because they’re introductory guides, there are things missing. It’s inevitable really, but they’re still a great start. If you’re really interested, you can always move on to more in-depth resources that cover the topics that most interested you.
They’re geared towards tourists and those traveling for business. Which means that a lot of the sections may not apply to certain readers and that information that might be relevant for readers may not be included as a part of the book. Still, as I’ve said before, they’re a wonderful starting point.
I’ve enjoyed every single Culture Smart! book that I’ve picked up and I look forward to delving into many more as I continue learning languages, traveling, and hey, I’ve picked a few up just because I was interested in learning more about the country even if I had no intent to visit or learn the language.
If you’re looking for a really great way to familiarize yourself with a culture, these books are a fantastic place to start. Especially considering the fact that they have nearly 100 titles as a part of the series.
Books: Culture Smart!
Culture Smart is published by Kuperard publishers and is part of a series of nearly 100 titles (www.culturesmart.co.uk).
Language Reading Challenge Linkup
1. Share your post discussing the book that you’ve read this month. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted.
2. Link back to this post as a part of your post.
3. Follow the hosts: Shannon from Eurolinguiste, Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages, Chiara Grandola from Runaway Daydreamer, Alex Gentry from The Language Voyager and Mairin Millward from Language Learning Journey.
4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Please visit the site of the person who linked up immediately before you and leave them an encouraging comment! If you do not do this, you will be removed from the linkup.
What about you? Do you have any books on culture that you’ve loved? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.