Poster with "Love to learn"

Understanding cultures: how should education contribute to connecting people?

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To speak ones language once meant that you could understand the person better. However, lately we have seen a growth in populism with countries more prone to protect their national identities. Are languages the right way to open citizens’ minds to other cultures? What changes should be made to educational systems to make people feel more connected to other cultures?

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The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.
At a Glance, March 2020

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Dilsad
05 June 2020



I believe that learning languages is very important. We are living in a time, were communication and the exchange of information is more important than ever before. We have the possibility to exchange information all around the world in mere seconds. This is necessary to share and compare natural-, formal-, and social sciences but also to spread various news and educate as many people as possible about the different arts, cultures and histories of our world and its inhabitants. But to give out information, a structured system of communication, that is understood by both parties, is essential. Languages are therefore a crucial part in understanding one another. Although learning different languages gives you some knowledge about other cultures, it is not adequate enough to truly understand one. Someone that speaks the language of a country but is unfamiliar with their ethics, their social behavior, beliefs,customs,laws and subcultures will undoubtedly be rejected by the community, either directly or indirectly. The educational system has to make it their sole purpose to use classes not only to teach a language but to close the gap between natives and foreigners of different countries.Therefore, when choosing a subject that specifies on a particular language, schools should shift their priorities and deliver more input about cultural, historical and ethnical background, so that when entering such a class one has not the impression of only learning a different language like before, but is given the possibility to see a completely different world through it. To achieve that properly, it is necessary for teachers to give students the possibility to not only visualize but to experience the culture that they are supposed to learn. The connection between natives and foreigners has to drastically increase. Schools and even nations themselves have to take stronger initiatives to give students from different countries the possibility to get to know each other.We have to increase the usage of technical devices. With the possibilities we have nowadays it should be possible to provide students with applications that are specifically made for students around the world to exchange information and learn through each other instead of learning out of textbooks alone. Exchange programs have to be made more affordable for students and the number of students that are part of them has to increase.ignorance leads to intolerance which is why it is important to gradually getting countries and citizens to understand each other. We learn about their feelings towards other countries, political issues and about their general needs.We get to know why they were acting the way they were in particular moments. We learn about their prejudice towards us and others and help to eradicate them. It will create the opportunity for us to sympathize with one another. thus making countries cooperate more frequently with each other leading to and slowly developing a genuine relationship between them. Such a relationship is of utmost importance when facing difficulties whose impacts are going far beyond borders. For us to have a connection with other countries is only possible when we feel connected with the people themselves. It is the responsibility of the countries of the European union and around the world to give every student the chance to truly understand and experience the diversity and beauty that lies within each country. Everyone needs to know that we have to be united as one to protect the ideals of humanity with zero tolerance for prejudice and hate. Because it is our diversity, our differences, our different perspectives collected and combined that make our world a better place. When we realize this we will inevitably be connected to one another.

Kay
23 May 2020

Hello! I notice two problems concerning this topic. First of all, populism. The biggest issue is that it does not only concern a conservative minority that wants to hold the so little traditions they have left, but the fact that it can affect a whole nation's perception of itself. It divides people into an "us" against a "them". But isn't a nation just a group of people that shares a common culture, language, history? If that's the case there is just no way that this same group stay the same forever. Just like people, traditions are meant to change and new ones appear. Today we don't celebrate Christmas the same way we did 50 years ago. With a continent as open as Europe and with such a mix of cultures, I think it is normal that these traditions are changing. People are always afraid of the unknown that is why I find it really important to encourage openness to others since childhood and especially at school.

As a child, we spent most of our time in school surround by all kind of people without being aware of it. Growing up, we start making a difference between people like "us" and the rest, and accepting others differences become more difficult. But is learning new languages the solution to open us up? For 7/8 years we must learn English and Spanish/ German/ Italian but in the end, only a few manage to master these languages. The problem is that we are not interested in learning because we either are not interested or we think we can make it with English only. Languages are alive! Through songs, cinema, theatre... And people are the one making them beautiful. How do you expect someone to fully understand that fact if all they do is learning grammar and conjugation? We should encourage exchanges between students of different nationalities, organize film festivals in foreign languages... we already do these things with Netflix and the like and I know these are processes that are already in place in schools, but I think they should be scaled up to have a real impact. Understanding the other goes through languages but also through their culture.

José
01 April 2020

Hello,

Protecting the national identity of a certain country is not a bad thing. It would not be possible to know a culture if it did not preserve its customs or protect its identity.

Language as a means of communication can help us connect and communicate with people of that language in a more formal and easy way. Although it is true that a person can learn a certain language for various reasons, whether it is love for that culture, better job opportunities, because they have emigrated to that country, etc. And that if we all spoke the same language it would be easier to understand each other.

I love the last question. Educational centers should teach ethics, good customs at an early age, also learn a little about each country / continent, things like a little stories and myths, type of diet, beliefs, climate, customs and traditions about the people of that place would be ideal. It is in good customs and good manners that we continue to advance as a culture.

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