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"This way of learning a language made complete sense to me. Working with the SpeakEZ German course, I was able to understand more in 2 weeks than in five years of German in school!"
      -- Asbjørn Finsnes

"The way in which this method is presented provided me with language that will suit me in a foreign country instead of a collection of unusable vocabulary words.

Those who have studied languages realize that looking-up individual words cannot convey a language in the correct manner. Becoming fluent means being able to verbalize ideas ; not learning technical rules and identifying the Past Predicate Indicative.

The audio part of this method has been my favorite portion of the learning process. Not only is the pronunciation slow and clear, but it is presented so that I remember the flow of sentences and concepts.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with this amazing program; it has been a blessing for me."

-- Destiny Yarbro, College Student

Get Exposure To Your New Culture!

by Nathalie V. Fairbanks

Now that you feel comfortable saying a few things in your new language, it's time to get comfortable with the new culture. If you're not currently living in the country, how do you dip your toes into another country's culture?

As a European who has lived in the U.S. for close to ten years, I can share the resources that I've used to connect with my fellow countrymen. For the most part, it's been through events hosted by institutions such as the German-American Chamber of Commerce. They are inexpensive or free, and open to all.

At these events, you'll meet natives of your target country who also speak English (or the local language, depending on where you live). They'll be in "their" environment and are likely to behave the same way they would if they were at home. Observe them. Talk to them. Connect with them!

See how they talk to each other. See how they eat their food, and what kind of food they eat. At a buffet, do they pile everything on a plate, or do they take smaller portions? Do they go back several times? Do they stand in line or rather storm the buffet? What about the women? Compared to the men, is there a noticeable difference in their attire, or in their behavior?

I attended a large workshop a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. Out of the 500+ people who were there, I immediately spotted the only other German participant. I walked up to him and asked him if he was German (that was OK to do, since a big part of the event was dedicated to networking). He almost fell over and asked me if it was that obvious! Well, it was to me! It takes one to know one, as they say.

There are so many details that can clue you in on someone's cultural heritage, but it takes time to find out what these traits are and how to recognize them. Train your eye to become sensitive to these details and then observe your own behavior. Is there anything that you consider natural that might come across as rude or offensive?

As far as resources go, almost all countries are represented by a Chamber of Commerce. Look up "German-American Chamber of Commerce," substituting your country of choice for "German." Latin American Countries sometimes aggregate and form a Latin American Chamber of Commerce in addition to the individual countries' Chambers.

Then, there often is an institution that deals primarily with representing the language and culture of a country. For French, you'd look for "Alliance Française." Each country has its own distinctive institution, and I'm sure you know which one is relevant to the language you're learning. You'll find movie showings, lectures, language classes, discussion groups, etc. that will greatly support you in getting acquainted with the culture of your new country.

I know these suggestions are a little unfair to those of us who don't live in a big city, as most of these are located in large metropolitan areas. However, it might be something to keep in mind when you occasionally do go to the city. Schedule your other business around one of the events.

With the holidays getting closer, most cultural institutions will host a Christmas party or New Year's Eve party sometime in December or January. As cultural representatives of their country, they take great care in choosing their food and program to make it as authentic as circumstances permit. (As an aside, it can be a real challenge to find authentic food in a foreign country, and importing it is not always an option.) You're in for a nice treat!

I'll let you do the research on what's available close to you. Meanwhile, I put a few resources together to point you in the right direction:


Goethe Institut

Deutsch-Amerikanische Handelskammer



Alliance Française

Union des Français a l'Etranger

Comité des Associations Françaises

List of French Chambers of Commerce

Union of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry Abroad


- Instituto Cervantes: check for your city

- Latin American Chamber of Commerce: check for your city


- Istituto Italiano di Cultura: check for your city, 100+ locations!

- Chamber of Commerce: check for your city


Asia Society

- Chamber of Commerce: check your country of interest in your city


Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the U.S.

Don't forget to check out the language clubs at local colleges. Most foreign students gather when studying abroad to get together and feel less homesick. Check what programs they have on their calendar and join them!

© 2008 Nathalie V. Fairbanks

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You may, as long as you include this blurb with it: SpeakEZ Languages publishes "Language Learning Express," a free bi-weekly e-zine for language learners who are eager to discover the secrets of efficient language learning, transition seamlessly into a new culture and have fun on the way. Get your FREE subscription and your FREE e-book now at http://www.SpeakEZLanguages.com.

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