Let's Try Teaching Spanish Culture! - Cultural Differences in Spain
written by: Finn Orfano
• edited by: SForsyth
• updated: 9/11/2012
Spain's cultural diversity is one of its greatest assets. Each region offers unique foods, languages and entertainment. Locals take pride in their cultural heritage and diversity. Explore the importance of teaching about culture in Spain while examining two diverse areas - Basque Country and Andalus
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Why Culture Varies Across a Country
Culture includes a society's arts, education, beliefs, customs and anything people learn to do over time. These are passed from one generation to the next through family, schools and communities. But why can aspects of culture vary across one country? The emphasis placed on each of these can affect a community's culture. Differing education and literacy levels, job status, socioeconomic status, degree of acculturation, origination and length of residency all affect cultural differences within the same country.
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Cultural Differences in Spain
Language:The local language of the Basque region is Euskera, a pre-Indoeuropean language whose origin has never been established. Euskera is Europe's oldest living language. It is not a romance language like the Spanish language, but extremely complex featuring several dialects within the Basque region. Nearly all Basques speak Spanish as well and many speak English as a third language.
Food: Many Basque dishes involve seafood due to their proximity to the sea. Fish stew (Ttoro) is a local specialty as well as cherry soup (Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin). Red peppers are commonly found in dishes like seafood, chicken and omelets. Cider houses (sagardotegiak) are large country restaurants with large barrels of cider. Menus are rustic featuring dishes like grilled salt cod omelets or ewes' milk cheese with walnuts.
Entertainment: One famous event originating in Basque Country is the running of the bulls. For one week, six bulls are set loose in the streets to run to the bullfighting stadium. Crowds run ahead of the bulls, swatting them with newspapers. Historically, Basque men take great pride in physical strength, displaying this strength through stone-lifting (harrijasotzaileak) and log-chopping (aizkolariak). Storytelling was a primary form of entertainment before modernization and a way for the Basques to pass on their history.
Language: The Andalusian Spanish dialect is one of the most distinct within the country. Andalusian Spanish is flavored with Arabic-derived words, reflecting the Moorish occupation of the region. The locals are famous for cutting words in half such as "buena dias" becoming "buenas" and dropping the letter "s" in words such as "escucha" becoming "ecucha".
Food: Jamón serrano and jamón ibérico both come from pigs living in the mountainous regions of Andalusia. Fresh Mediterranean seafood is popular along the coast, but less than an hour inland, endless olive groves grow. Olive oil is used in many Andalusian dishes and green olives are a favorite appetizer. A popular dish in Andalusia is rabo del toro or bull's tail with a tomato sauce.
Entertainment: Flamenco dancing originated in Andalusia as well as the myths of Don Juan and Carmen. Folklore is alive and well with golden beaches, beautiful mountains and "white villages". Bullfighting is also a popular activity in Andalusia. The outdoor activities are plentiful, including surfing along the coast of Cadiz or skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
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Culture and Language Study
Teaching Spanish culture along with Spanish language acquisition provides students with a whole picture perspective of the country. Students gain a complete understanding of Spanish culture and heritage as well as its diversity. Teaching Spanish culture also provides students with the basics for a successful visit to Spain should they choose to further their Spanish language study.