Cultural Differences In Language Videos

Image by ha11ok from Pixabay

I’ve been watching this immersive Thai channel 15 minutes a day for a while. Of course I would like to spend a little more time on it, but I couldn’t do it. Not that I don’t have another 10 minutes to spare each day, but rather a 15-minute duration is all I can endure without beating myself up with an imaginary disciplinary stick. This channel is all Thai and no English or other languages. It speaks quite slowly and use gestures, images, and drawings to illustrate to you what he or she is talking about. And you will be amazed how much you can understand with zero prior knowledge of the language. Basically you can understand more than 80% of the beginner series. Isn’t that wonderful?

Even though my skill of Thai improves very slowly–as slow as a sleepy tree sloth–I have to say I’ve noticed the cultural differences in language learning channels. In addition, I’ve also noticed the teachers’ personality and sometimes I can even imagine life stories of these teachers.

Personal Relationships

One teacher is very young and very cute. And he likes to talk about his life and makes it into sentences like “I love you”, “My girlfriend is beautiful”, “We might get married”. Several days later, he will talk about sentences like “she yells at him”, “he buys gifts for her”. After that, he talks about “he meets his ex-girlfriend.” Then after a while, he starts to talk about things like “I don’t have money”, “everything is expensive”, “she likes shopping.”

I am a little surprised to realize that he alludes to his love life so frequently. I mean comparing this with the Spanish channel I also watch for 15 minutes a day (30 minutes if I can bear the boredom), I have to say this young Thai kruu (Kruu is the Thai word for teacher, which is originated from the word guru in Sanskrit) is quite outspoken and more communicative, in this aspect, than people in the Spanish channel.

I’ve always had this stereotypical idea that Spanish speaking people are more outspoken and more expressive than Asians, but in this kind of language learning videos, this is not the case. The Thai kruu really wants to talk about his life and he talks about it in a way that is thinly veiled as learning materials.

Food, Food

The Thai kruus like to talk about food. They especially enjoy accompanying their food talk with gestures and facial expressions to show how much they enjoy certain fruits or dishes. And making a little noise with their mouth and tongue to show the savoring process is quite normal. I think in other Asian cultures, that is acceptable too or even encouraged. For example, in Japan, making slurping sound while eating noodle is allowed and highly encouraged, which shows how much one loves the food. And in several other Asian countries, this is the case too. In certain areas, the louder you slurp, the politer you are since you have made an effort to demonstrate your appreciation of the food.

However such an expression of food enjoyment is absent from the Spanish channel. I have to say the Spanish speaking people are a little indifferent to their food, except when a Mexican girl talk about spices or lack of spice of her food. She can become quite passionate in her assertion that non-spicy food is not worth eating.

Colleagues, Colleagues

In this Thai language channel I’ve been watching, there are altogether about 10 teachers. They usually come out in pairs each time to engage in a conversation about a certain topic. Obviously they are colleagues to each other. After watching their videos for a while, I can’t help noticing that among the 10 teachers, one female kruu is mildly narcissistic. It plays out in very subtle ways, which is why I didn’t observe it in the beginning. However after a while, when I get used to all the teachers, I begin to pick up those little signs, which escaped my notice before.

For example, whenever she is with another teacher, she always assumes a more dominant position, which means she talks more, she asks questions more, she even jeers politely at the other teacher’s answers sometimes. However since she is also so polite, it is hardly noticeable if you don’t pay special attention.

I’ve never seen her paring up with a male teacher. I guess her preference in dominating a conversation, no matter how subtle the domination is, drives those male teachers away.

There is an older female teacher who likes to talk about her dislike of hot weather, her fear of dehydration, her sadness when friends moving away etc. She complains about her life honestly, which makes me like her even more. Since the narcissistic kruu is young, she is not in the same age group as the older teacher. Thus she doesn’t feel threatened. In addition, the older teacher’s disarming statements put her quite at ease. This is why whenever these two pair up, the younger teacher’s narcissism fades and the conversation flows naturally. The older teacher often makes some mistakes, like drawing something wrong or using a pen without ink, but the younger teacher never gives out soft jeering.

Something else also demonstrates her mild narcissism–she can’t draw, but she likes to draw. I guess she probably thinks that her drawings are better than what they really are. She often draws something that’s completely unrecognizable. And then she will point to that unrecognizable object and talk for a minute. I am always confused whenever she does that since I have no idea what she is pointing to. Other non-artistic teachers know their limitations, and would bring in a ready made photo or draw very simple lines to make their point. However the mildly narcissistic teacher doesn’t have the self awareness to realize that she is not good with drawing and her drawings don’t make sense.

There are also other signs too. And I think I will update this post later. As I continue to watch their videos, I will observe more details and analyze them more.

20 thoughts on “Cultural Differences In Language Videos

  1. I think Asian cultures are very obsessed with food sometimes. Not in a bad way, but food is a big part of our lives. I was actually talking to my mum about this since she’s from India and as you can imagine food is a huge thing there. We talk about food so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. Food is an obsession indeed. I have to say people here is so obsessed about food that if somebody’s wife is not a good cook, people don’t like to go to his place for parties. This is sooooo true and it is so unfair since we party because we like each other and want to hang out. Food is just a decoration. I mean good friends should love to hang out with just soda and chips, right? But no. People use food as recruitment weapons here.. LOL. I should write a story about this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol, yes please do write a story about this. True, people should want to hang out because they enjoy each others company. Food should come second. But often it doesn’t lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So true. I guess culture and custom and habits really lead us astray and make us concentrate on things that’s not really important for our happiness. LOL.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s amazing how you observe people in so much minute detail, Hoayan. I guess having endured so much in life, you’ve developed a natural ability for picking up on a person’s nature through their physical characteristics. I think that should play to your advantage but also remember to keep an open mind while doing so. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true. We really should keep an open mind and don’t interpret things too roughly. This is why fighting narcissism is so difficult since a lot of the victims and survivors don’t know how to fight a mental game of subtlety and nuance. It ends up that other people don’t know what these victims and survivors are talking about. Normal people often think that the victims and survivors interpret things in a too skewed ways and present things in an abnormal way. And you are very insightful in pointing this out. I can’t just say things for certain that certain people exhibit certain traits since there might be other explanations. I can only bring up something and I really shouldn’t judge too much.

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  3. People are different everywhere. It’s a stereotype that all Americans (US) are outspoken and boisterous—especially southerners. Yet, you come up to some of us and some will look at you sideways or get irritated and hypervigilant. I assume some Spanish speakers are the same and don’t want their business out there. Meanwhile, that man may not have friends to talk about his questionable love-life so he tells his students. I’ve had some teachers announce their whole life from childhood to adulthood when we did lessons and some that if you ask them if they’re married or have a child or ask them what they like, they change the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. I have teachers who enjoy sharing their life’s details and can’t stop alluding to things happening to them. And other teachers may be as protective of their private life like a clam. It is quite a personal choice rather than a cultural characteristic. Yes, most of the Spanish language channels try to be formal and professional, even if they are personal videos. They will never divulge personal details. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, because it doesn’t give much of a wholeness to actual Spanish speakers and how their culture is…but maybe it’s not so important at this state? 😩 I never can tell but it makes the language harder to push into.


  4. If I have said it once, I have said it 100 times. You can’t learn a language without learning the culture. They go hand in hand! It’s super cool what you have come across and I’m glad to see you acknowledging learning the culture too

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m amazed at the differences you are finding between the different language videos. Are you working towards travel in these countries or are you simply fascinated by languages? 🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am actually feeling that my memory is getting bad, which is very alarming. Since English is a foreign language to me and if my memory is getting bad, what will happen to me if I can’t remember English words anymore? By the way, i have to use English every day for work and life and everything. So this is why I pick up learning other languages just to train my mind. I don’t have goals of traveling or anything else yet.

      Liked by 1 person

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