I had never studied German language before. Yet, the language was not the most interesting part of the classes I took at Lappeenranta University of Technology. The classes were held together with all the international students, which I thought was such a great idea. Diverse cultures and the international atmosphere must bring more content to the learning experience, I thought. And indeed, it really did. Getting to know different people from all over the world while learning a new language together was really something. However, there are some challenges when you are learning something new with people from different backgrounds.
What I learned right away in the first class was that Finnish people and southern cultures have a very different learning patterns. Compared to the Finns, who prefer written exams and only speak the language when they know they are using the grammar correctly, many of the foreign people I met thought it was ok to make mistakes as long as you are trying to speak. During our conversational tasks I learned a lot from being more spontaneous and just trying to do your best, even when you don’t know if you are doing it right. I think it is very good to try to get it correct and perhaps it can even pay off when learning a language, but being brave enough to make mistakes is what you can learn a lot from too.
Please don’t get me wrong – I am not saying either way of thinking is not good. I think there’s a silver lining in both, whether you are trying to reach the perfect grammar or learn by having fun with the language. However, I think we can learn a lot from other people and having different cultures in class definitely diversifies our own way of thinking. It is an awesome way also to get to know all the foreign people in our university, which we unfortunately are not encouraged to do at other events. Learning something together is an awesome way to get to know one another. So please, continue mixing the classes, Language Centre! How do you guys feel, do you like learning languages with people from different backgrounds? Have you learned something new from different cultures?
Text: A student of Independent Study in English course