What Is Acculturation and 5 Tips for Successful Acculturation
If you have friends from other cultures and countries, surely you have already heard of the term “acculturation.”
And if you’re learning a new language or even living in a country other than yours, it’s also something that you should know first-hand.
In this article, we will tell you about acculturation, how you can incorporate into a new culture and the do’s and don’ts that you should keep in mind.
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What is Acculturation?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, acculturation is the “cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture.”
It also says, “the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy.”
Britannica defines acculturation as the process of changing customs, beliefs, and artifacts due to the contact between two or more cultures simultaneously.
On the other hand, researcher John Schumann states that “the more second-language learners are immersed in the culture, the faster and better they will become acculturated.”
This means that your kids will benefit so much from spending time immersed in the culture of the language they’re learning.
Not only because of the specific task of acquiring the language. But also to improve their social skills to fit in and be accepted by their peers.
So, if you’re adjusting to a new culture, acculturation will allow you and your kids to be more confident in the academic, professional, and social environments.
It also leads to the more successful development of the linguistic skills to communicate with the people of the country you’re living in or with friends.
Stages of Acculturation
Every significant change in our lives has a learning curve, usually with stages already known at a scientific and social level.
In the acculturation process, there are four main stages that have been studied, and we want you to know them so you can know what to expect when you enter this process.
This phase is where you’ll experience excitement, optimism, and fascination. You will focus on the positive aspects of the situation and be happy about the differences in the new country or environment.
Here is where you begin to prepare for what will happen, take your first language lessons, and feel excited.
Crisis or Negotiation Stage
This phase is also known as culture shock since it’s when you feel uncertainty.
When you begin to carry out activities in the new environment, you may have anxiety, confusion, surprise, etc.
Your mood can be affected since you will feel isolated and sad and even avoid being in contact with the community around you.
Little by little, the culture shock stage will emerge, and you’ll begin to feel the benefits of the cultural adjustment you’re experiencing.
Your self-confidence and self-motivation will increase, you will feel more comfortable, and your social networks will begin to expand and strengthen ties.
Here your emotions are finally restored. You begin to show more happiness. You also trust the people that surround you.
You can compare your own culture with the new one.
People here might even join local activities and appreciate new cultural settings without leaving aside their own cultural traditions.
Remember that there are different levels of acculturation according to each person and the circumstances they live in.
5 Tips for a Successful Acculturation
The most important thing when starting with acculturation is to be flexible, open-minded, and willing to learn many new things.
So here we leave some tips that can help you in this new phase of your life. They will be helpful whether you’re moving to a new country or taking language classes.
- All the feelings you’re experiencing are normal. For example, discomfort or frustration is temporary and common; this is how your body and mind react.
Be patient with yourself and enjoy every moment of the process.
- Learn as much as you can about the new culture, enjoy new meals, watch movies, or listen to music by artists from that country.
Participate in the activities of the culture, but do not forget to be respectful and avoid doing things that bother you.
We suggest you talk to a native beforehand to understand what the celebration is about and how you can join them.
- There is nothing better than talking to locals.
With them, you’ll learn all you need to know about their history and idiosyncrasy.
You will understand politics, education, local sports, and much more.
You can even ask them about show business in their country or if they have stories about meeting famous people.
Any information will help you connect more easily with the culture.
- Use their language! Speaking their language will help you be more self-confident when you’re socializing with locals.
Remember to pay attention to pronunciation.
If you’re unsure about how to say something, ask them.
- Relax and have fun! Ask your friends to invite you to local activities, so you can get to know their traditions and customs.
If you can find ethnic enclaves in your city, go there!
Think about a Mexican neighborhood or a Little Colombia, like in Queens. In these places, you’ll hear the language and eat traditional dishes.
Or, if you have the chance, travel to a country where they speak the language you’re learning. You can find even more things to do, like going to sporting events, concerts, art festivals, etc.
We know it’s quite challenging to know and adapt to a new culture, especially if it’s very different from yours.
You will be exposed to new and different values, beliefs, and even behaviors. But fear now, they’ll gradually become more familiar to you.
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When you experience acculturation, you’ll realize there’s an infinite world of possibilities outside of what you’ve experienced.
You will face a phenomenon called acculturation stress.
It sounds awful, but it can be positive, too, because it will keep you excited and active. Just don’t let it overwhelm you.
But remember, these feelings are temporary. You must adapt and learn.
How Acculturation Can Help Navigate a New Culture
Acculturation is an inevitable process in our societies.
Given the constant migration that has happened throughout the centuries, it’s more likely to interact with people from other cultures in this day and age.
Understanding this term and what happens during the process will help our children and us to be more empathetic.
We will understand other cultures, why they have the values they practice, and we will learn to appreciate the differences.
The exchange of cultures is very important for a peaceful society and for eradicating discrimination, racism, classism, and xenophobia.
And last but not least, it is a basic element to have a more meaningful and deeper language acculturation.
Learning a New Culture Is a Rewarding Experience!
Now that you know more about this process, you’re more than ready to venture into a new culture.
If you’re learning a new language, applying what we propose in this article will help you achieve your goals.
If you have already decided to learn a new language and culture, at HSA, we’ll help you learn Spanish with our native Spanish-speaking teachers.
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