How to Talk about Your Culture in English

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Many non-native English speakers from different cultures around the world live in English-speaking countries like the USA, UK, Canada, etc. Today, the world has become a global village, and people are interested in knowing and sharing one’s culture with others.

Therefore, talking about one’s culture can be a great way to open a conversation. If you are wondering how to talk about your culture in English, this post is for you.    

You can focus on different aspects of your culture, including language, family structure, social beliefs and practices, religion, arts and literature, food habits, education,  politics, economic system, and the way of life as a whole, while talking about your culture in English.

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Culture is someone’s core identity representing their collective way of life. Whatever you do and how you see different things is your culture. So, while talking about culture, you can bring up many things. Here, I will share some expressions you can use to talk about your culture in English.

Talking about Your Native Language

talk about your culture
Talking about your native language in English

Language is the fundamental element of culture. It is an essential characteristic of one’s cultural identity. Therefore, whenever someone talks about their culture, language comes first, then the other elements of culture. Here are some example sentences you can use to share your linguistic identity while talking about your culture.

  • I was born in Bangladesh, and we speak Bengali there.
  • I am Indian. I speak Hindi.
  • Spanish is my mother tongue.
  • I am from Brazil. Portuguese is our official language.
  • Bengali is my mother tongue. We sacrificed lives for our language.
  • Today is 21 February, the International Mother Language Day. I am proud to be a speaker of Bengali.
  • I speak German as my 1st language.
  • Though I can speak English, my mother tongue is French.
  • I speak Mandarin as my first language, and English is my second.
  • Russian is my first language, but I am learning English as a second language.
  • I am a native speaker of Arabic.
  • My mother tongue is Turkish, but I studied English in school.

Talking about Family Structure in Your Culture

Family structure is the combination of relatives who live together as a single entity. Family structure is fundamental to understanding a culture. From the beginning of humankind, there were two kinds of families: patriarchal and matriarchal.  

In a patriarchal family, the father or the male elder is the ultimate decision maker, whereas, in a matriarchal family mother or woman is the key decision maker. However, nowadays, both male and female members are given equal importance in families in the developed world.

Family structures significantly depend on the number of members and their relationships. For example, in the USA, there are different kinds of family structures, such as:

  • Extended family—consists of father, mother, and their children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins
  • Grandparent family—consists of grandchildren and no parents present in the intervening generation
  • Nuclear family—consists of parents and children
  • Same-sex family—consists of children raised by two mothers or two fathers
  • Single-parent family—consists of a parent and one or more dependent children
  • Step-family—consists of at least one parent having children without any biological relation to their spouse

The above structures are also common in other countries, especially nuclear and extended ones. Here are some example sentences showing the use of those family types.

  • I was raised in an extended family.
  • As I live in a grandparent family, I usually need to take care of my Grandparents.
  • The nuclear family is the typical family type in my country.
  • In Bangladesh, we usually don’t have a same-sex family.
  • My step-brother is my best friend as I was raised in a step-family.

Talking about Beliefs and Practices in Your Culture

talk about your culture
Talking about Beliefs and Practices in Your Culture

Social beliefs and practices are usually unwritten rules that people of a specific culture follow. Such traditions help create a comfortable atmosphere in society. Those beliefs and practices vary from culture to culture.

For example, in modern developed countries like the USA, marriage as a cultural practice is determined by choice of a man and woman. All the family members are not necessarily exclusively involved.

However, in India, marriage is a relationship between two families. Therefore, it is done through negotiations on different issues rather than merely on love between a man and woman.   

Let us see another example. In European countries, you will find that men and women are traveling on the same bus. Maybe one is sitting beside another even if the other seats are vacant.

Think about Bangladesh now. Even a few years back, besides combined buses, there were individual buses for men and women. Even in combined buses, there are reserved seats for women. In addition, if there are vacant seats, a woman in Bangladesh usually doesn’t sit next to a man.

The examples I have mentioned are not rules written in the constitution, but they are believed to be rules practiced by the majority.

Well! Let me share some expressions you can use while talking about cultural beliefs and practices in English.

  • In our country, we don’t believe in individualism. We live hand in hand.
  • In my culture, men and women get equal rights.
  • Depending on the relationship, we maintain the formality in our culture.
  • We celebrate most of the local festivals grandly.
  •  We live with our parents even after our adulthood.

Talking about Religions in Your Culture

Religion is a determining factor of culture. Many cultures are structured with religious beliefs and practices. For example, Arab countries are governed by Islamic laws. If the majority of a society believes in the same religion, the culture naturally adopts different practices of that religion.    

Religion is a very sensitive and powerful force in our lives. Therefore, we should be respectful of everyone’s beliefs or faith. So, while discussing religion, ensure you don’t hurt anyone’s religious ego.

To talk about religions in your culture, you can share whether people are religious, spiritual, atheist, agnostic, etc. You can also talk about places like mosques, churches, temples, etc., where people go to pray or worship. In addition, you can talk about religious leaders like imams, priests, pastors, etc.

The following part of the post shows some common words related to the most common religions. Considering your culture, you can use those words while talking about faith or belief in English.

Different Types of People Based on Their Religious Beliefs

Agnostic – People who believe that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

Atheists – People who don’t believe in the existence of God or gods.

Omnist – People who believe in all religions.

Religious – People who believe in a specific religion.

Spiritual – People who believe in the human spirit or soul instead of material or physical things.

Some Places for Different Religious Practices

Church – A Christian place of worship

Mosque – A Muslim place of worship

Pagoda – A Buddhist place of worship

Temple – A place of worship commonly used by Hindus in the east

Synagogue – A Jewish place of worship

Prayer Leaders of Some Common Religions

Buddhism – Lama

Christianity – Pastor

Hinduism – Pujari/purohit

Islam – Imam

Judaism – Hazzan

Buddism – One of the world’s prevalent religions that believes meditation, spirituality, labor, and good behavior are the ways to get rid of suffering and achieve enlightenment.

Christianity – The most popular religion in the world that believes in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hinduism – The world’s oldest and third most popular religion that worships a single deity—Brahman, but still recognizes other gods and goddesses.

Islam – The second most popular religion in the world that believes in the submission to the will of God—Allah. 

Judaism – The world’s oldest monotheistic religion that believes in one God who revealed himself through ancient prophets.

Let’s consider some example sentences while discussing religions in your culture.

  • I am a Muslim, and almost 90% of the people of my country are Muslim.
  • I came from a Christian family. Christianity is the most popular religion in my culture.
  • Everyone in my culture believes in spirituality and considers it the only way to achieve nirvana.
  • As a jew, I fast and pray every year on Yom Kippur.
  • Durga puja is my county’s most celebrated religious festival as most of the population is Hindu.

Talking about Arts and Literature in Your Culture

talk about your culture
Talking about Arts and Literature in Your Culture

Talking about your Arts and Literature allows you to represent your culture’s history and aesthetic value. In addition, it will help you give people a better understanding of your culture as they are all about your cultural history in the forms of painting, drama, music, poetry, photography, novels, etc.

Talk about the prominent and popular literary and artistic pieces and any genres of art and literature that are common to your culture but not others. You can also talk about famous artists, writers, poets, and painters of your culture and their works.    

Here are some example sentences you can use while discussing arts and literature in your culture.

  • I am from the home of Pablo Picasso & Salvador Dali.
  • Haiko is a popular form of poetry in my culture.
  • Classical music is very popular in my country.
  • Poetry is the oldest form of literature in my culture.
  • Our Greek literature is enriched with different genres of literature.

Talking about Food Habits in Your Culture

Food habits are one of the vital elements of one’s culture. It includes the attitudes, beliefs, and practices surrounding food production and consumption.

While discussing food habits, you can mention everyday items, the unique items popular worldwide, and other standard practices while consuming food. For example, Indians eat with their hands, whereas European people usually eat with spoons.  

Here are some example sentences you can consider while discussing your culinary culture.

  • In Bangladesh, rice is the staple food.
  • In India, we eat most of our food with our hands.
  • Pizza originated in my country—Italy.
  • In China, our favorite soup is Wonton Soup.
  • I would love to invite you all to japan to try authentic sushi.

Talking about Politics in Your Culture

Talking about politics is vital to describe your culture in English to someone as the politics of a country determine the way of people’s life. However, while talking about politics, be mindful that you don’t say anything that may hurt the political ego of the person you are talking to.

You can talk about what the political system was in your country in the past and what it is now. For example, you may have had communism earlier. Now, it’s democracy. However, rather than saying what political system is good or bad, try to mention the existing system rather than judging the system.

You can also talk about the parliamentary and voting systems as well as the rights and duties of the citizens. Here are some example sentences showing how you can talk about politics while talking about your culture in English.

  • We are the largest democratic country in the world.
  • Communism is the political system in our country.
  • The people elect their representatives every after five years through votes.
  • We have a semi-presidential government system in France.
  • The European Union dominates our political culture like most other European countries.

Talking about the Economic System in Your Culture

There are different types of economic systems—traditional, capitalist, or mixed. Some countries’ economies may depend on agriculture, industries, tourism, fishing, shipping, export, etc.

Here are some examples to talk about the economic system in your culture in English.

  • Like so many other countries, we have a mixed economy in India.
  • My country’s private and public sectors work together and ensure international trade.
  • Bangladesh’s economy is considered as developing market economy.
  • Our economy primarily depends on agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and tourism.
  • We are one of the largest exporters globally.
  • The economy of my country is agriculture based.
  • We have a free-market economy in Turkey.
  • Major industrial sectors in Indonesia are petroleum, natural gas, textiles, apparel, etc.
  • Our economy is the most advanced and diversified among all African countries.
  • In South Korea, we have a highly developed mixed economic structure.

In Conclusion

Getting questions about your culture while talking about someone from a different culture is common in everyday conversation. Learning about various cultures and new cultural practices is always interesting.

However, suppose you don’t know how to talk about your culture appropriately in English. In that case, you may miscommunicate while sharing your cultural position.

I hope the above discussion will help you to understand how to talk about your culture in English.

Thanks for reading.

Happy learning.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 8 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

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