Foreign to Familiar – Learning About Culture So You Can Learn The Language

I just finished a great book that anyone planning on moving cross culturally should pick up and read. The book, Foreign to Familiar, is short (127 pages), incredibly helpful, and fun to read.

The basic premiss of Foreign to Familiar is one we all intuitively know – cultures carry a shared set of values, beliefs, traditions and world views and each is different from your own.  Writing from a life time of experience living in different cultures in all areas of the world, and drawing from the vast academic writing that has been done on the topic, author Sarah Lanier, does a masterful job of giving helpful insights supported by entertaining and poignant stories.

Using the basic idea that there hot climate  and cold climate cultures, the book then dives into topics such as relationship versus task orientation, direct versus indirect communication, individualism versus group identity, inclusion versus privacy and many more.

Of all the books I have read on the subject, none has seemed more helpful than this one.  I wish I had read it long before I moved cross culturally to Mexico and later to Turkey.

As I have returned to the states now and as North America becomes more and more diverse, this is a book I think everyone should read – even those who don’t plan on moving abroad.

Buy it here -> Foreign to Familiar

Another great book which is perhaps more entertaining but deals less with the practical applications of the information given is A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist.

*All links to the books above are affiliate links.

How Much Vocabulary Is Enough?

Today’s guest post comes from Jeffery Nelson, the creator of a great new blog called Living Bilingual.  After you enjoy the article stop by and visit. ———- Language skills are hard to measure. There is an innate subjectivity in analyzing a language learner or speaker and their language skills. Languages are enormous, spanning literally an…

The Number One Rule For Learning A Foreign Language

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I have been an admirer of Jana Fadness for a number of years now and so was excited to be able to interview her a few weeks back.  Her blog, Adventures of the Directionally Challenged shares here experiences as a language learner, a traveler and a thinker. Jana has some great insight into the language…

How to Instantly Improve Your Vocabulary Recall in just 5 Minutes

Perhaps you are familiar with Tim Ferris’ “4 Hour” series of books.  In today’s guest post, Allan Ngo of Money in Mandrin unpacks a few lessons he took away from The 4 Hour Chef.  Enjoy! RIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!!!!! Your alarm clock blares! POW! Your alarm shuts up. This one-two combination is a reality of our daily lives….

The Most Important Day Of Your Language Learning Journey

Today’s guest post is from Noel van Vliet, the writer behind  It was certainly a timely post for me as I’ve been struggling amidst part time jobs and being back in the states to stay connected with learning Turkish and Spanish.  Enjoy! ———— Yesterday, you were supposed to study your new language for at least an…

Get on the Bus and Stay On

It’s not everyday that I get a postcard with a picture of an elephant trying to get on a double decker bus, but when I do, I like to share about it. The picture itself is so great – an apt metaphor for life as we know it. Much of what we do is filled…

The Parallel Themes of Effective Self-Directed Language Learning

There is much to be said about learning languages in the realm of methods, strategies, theory, drills, resources, etc. And there are a million opinions – some held with unbending strength – as to which of each of these is the “best”. But regardless of your thoughts on all in the aforementioned list, there are…

The Everyday Language Learner Interview Series: Gaby Cortinas

I love being able to hear the stories of language learners throughout the world. The inspiration and new ideas I get whenever I am able to interact is always amazing. And over the last few months I have been hearing a bit of the story of one of the readers of the blog – Gaby…

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  You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.  -Steve Martin Movies.  They have become a tremendously influential piece of our culture – of nearly every culture around the world. They have the power to move us, to entertain and…

The Everyday Language Learner Interview Series: Neil Rees

It is not very often that you come across someone who is both extremely experienced in learning other languages but also knowledgeable and talented in teaching others how to become an independent language learner. Neil Rees is both of these. Neil has learned to varying extents a handful of languages and has worked over the…

How To Learn Language Through Food

Today’s guest post is from Lizzie Davey, a language learner and writer at Languages Abroad.  Enjoy! Travel and food go hand in hand, so incorporating the local cuisine into the language learning process is a great way to discover the traditions and culture of the native-speaking country whilst picking up new vocabulary and learning how…

Postcard Outreach: Iowa and Macedonia

I received two more great postcards recently.  The first was from Jamie of Des Moines, Iowa. The second was the first international postcard, coming all the way from Lew who is a PeaceCorp worker in Macedonia! Very cool! Send your postcards to: Aaron Myers 102 N Main Marion, SD 57043 USA

Skill Development and Language Learning

Last fall I was contacted by Alexis Morin asking if he could interview me as part of his Master’s Thesis research.  We had a great conversation which you can watch HERE.  Alexis is diving deep into self-directed language learning for his research and so I asked if he would consider writing a guest post for…

The Everyday Language Learner Interview Series: Alan Park of FluentU

After my recent post, 10 Free Resources for Learning Nearly Any Language, I got a lot of great feedback on other resources not on that list.  None was mentioned more than FluentU.  I’ve probably gotten ten emails from the EDLL community saying how great of a site that it is. I had to do some…

Welcome to The Everyday Language Learner. My goal with this site is to empower everyday folks to learn language well and to point language learners toward great resources, activities, information and ideas. My name is Aaron Myers and my family and I live in Istanbul, Turkey where we too are everyday language learners. My hope is that I am able to help you be a more effective, more efficient language learner and to help you have a lot more fun on the language learning journey. Have an amazing day! -Aaron
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