As we enter the 21th century, global demographic and scientific progresses are leading to unparalleled levels of intercultural contact in both national and international arenas. Rapid increase in immigration is generating new 'multicultural' social order where language, verbal skills and social change is probable. Satellite channels bring information, images, and entertainment from around the world. Internet networks offer new platforms for interpersonal communication, as well as novel means of advertising, connecting, and retrieving huge amounts of information from every corner of the globe. For the educationalist, these changes impart exciting new opportunities as well as momentous challenges.
One of these challenges is the pursuit of excellence in language and literacy, although this topic is as old as academics itself the rising range of the student inhabitants and partial means are obliging teachers, instructors and policymakers to go back to the basic questions about the most effectual way of learning language and literacy. The theory and research in language and literacy has change over time; however, few things are deemed more significant than the pursuit of academic excellence. It is nearly unbearable to picture an effective teacher today who does not aim to put into practice effective ways of learning language and literacy. Nevertheless, there are many different viewpoints on this among linguists and those in the other social sciences.
It s a fact that learning and using language proficiently involves more than words and structures; it requires thinking creatively and ingeniously about language and communication. The problem is, how can we begin to effectively learn language, think creative strategies, what relationship between word learning, concepts and theory of mind and how can we be sensitized to different cultural frames, when we are in a classroom. Why there is a decline in literacy in the middle schools and strategies to solve it. In this paper I will discuss the above problems and issues related to it.
A brief summary of how children learn words
Human beings are possibly programmed to acquire language, but we discover and refine the many words all through our lives. When children first start to speak, they learn possibly a word or two a week. Then swiftly, at approximately thirteen to fifteen months, they seem to absorb new vocabulary like a sponge, learning as many as 10 a day. Researchers have long been confused by this spectacular increase of rate, and they have developed a mixture of theories to clarify it. Some researchers have claimed that as the mind cultivates, it rearranges to become much well-organized at learning new words. Others have maintained that children are able to use their information of a few words to infer the meanings of other words.
However, in last decade, much study has focused on how many words children know by a specific age, without paying much notice to how the type of the words affect a child's aptitude to learn them. A theory introduced by McMurray exemplifies that Children's word inclusion, is the rational result of two fundamental principles:
a) Children work on learning several words at the same time, and
b) Some words are harder to learn than others.
He states that a word like "mom" for instance, might be given just one point, while a word like "elephant" might get 10 and a word like "ability" might get 100. For reasons of the model, he understood that children are frequently exposed to all the words they learn and that the upper a word's point score, the more times a child will have to hear the word to learn it. So kids will learn "mommy" fast, but a hardly ever used and more abstract word such as "ability" may come much later.
As far as children of primary and middle schools are concerned more recently, a substantial American research shows that children do actually acquire new meanings as they read. The research showed that eight grade students read either 1of 2 passages of over 1000 words, and were afterwards tested for the meanings of 30 alien words included in the passages they read. 'Full adult meaning' from stumble upon the words in a lone context was found in about 9% of cases in undefined tests, and 15% in multiple-choice. Partial knowledge of the unknown words was obtained in many more cases, and the scholars argued that this type of secondary learning was noticeably more competent - and enjoyable - than methodical instruction on new words. An additional similar study produced similar results with 10th grade students.
Another study which investigated how much new words children do learn from context while listening to stories, 7 classrooms of standard 1 and 2 listened to the story 'Gumdrop at Sea', without clarification, 3 times over a week, and had revealed an average gain of 14% on 18% difficult words enclosed in the story. So clearly, listening to a good story is a good way of words learning in children.
In short, children need to acquire some awareness of the sound system of words. They need to build up knowledge of the concept of 'word' and meanings in diverse situations. Children need to be trained to use framework to learn the meaning of words or compound meanings or variation in shades of meaning. Parents need to help by stressing these features to children. Children also should develop an understanding of how words come together into superior set of connections based on meaning in order to learn effectively.
The process of developing meaning
Before elaborating on the procedure of how we develop meaning of a word, it would be suitable to first talk about what meaning actually is about. Traditionally, the most persuasive idea regarding meaning has been that meaning is some sort of entity or thing. After all, we do talk of words as "having" a meaning, as denoting "something," as having the "same" meaning, and so forth. What kind of entity or thing is meaning? Diverse answers to this query give us a range of different idea of meaning. Some describe it as a relation between a linguistic manifestation and what it refers to or the sense of each expression is the (real) object it indicates. A common understanding of meaning is that it is a set of probable meanings of any given word is the set of likely feelings, images, thoughts, belief, opinion, and inferences that an individual might generate when that word is heard and processed.
Children learn the meaning of vocabulary by a set of common cognitive aptitude, together with the capability to deduce intentions, to distinguish the humanity in terms of substance and measures, and the aptitude to appreciate syntactic structures. Children do not learn the sense of words by way of learning words. Instead, it appears more probable that the meaning of words is obtained due to discourse. Dialogue can take the materialized into conversations by oneself, with others or by others, positioned in time and space. Actually one could say that children learn at least in part words exclusively by grasping their relation in context. This is how some computational system estimates the meaning of words, sentences, article and texts.
However, distinction must be made between the sagacity of a word and its meaning. In brief, the sense of a word is the category or sort of objects, action or encounter to which it refers. A child may have a meaning of the word, cat, for example, but the meaning of the term is endlessly being extended and polished. The meaning of a word is the result from the whole context in which it is used as well as, but not restricted to, the sense of the word. Thus, the young child will obtain the sense of a great number of words, but will be only beginning the process of developing the meaning of words. The meaning of words is acquired through a incessant process of communication between the individual and the environment, between scientific and impulsive concepts, and between teaching and development. The sense of a word may be gladly acquired, but the meaning of a word repeatedly develops both inside within the person and outwardly as social reality. It is interesting to note that Edelman's work exposed the primacy of classification over communication in human being awareness and in the development of symbolic performance.
Children learning words to literacy teaching and plan
Literacy teaching in the primary years of school remains to be a contentious and intensively explored topic. Additionally, the argument surrounding the education of early literacy, the meaning of literacy itself is also open to debate. Literacy is integrally related to learning in all regions of the core curriculum, and facilitates all persons to build on data and understanding. Reading and literature, when incorporated with verbal communication, listening, viewing and critical idea, comprise valued aspects of literacy in contemporary life. While there are great recognized bodies of knowledge in the region of effectual are teaching in general and literacy teaching in specific, we still need more study on the relationship between learning words to literacy teaching.
Recent research indicated that an unbiased literacy program that is frankly taught and which comprises of word and text level data and skills, chiefly phonemic understanding, phonics, fluency, conception and oral language as well as varied classroom practice, leads to enhanced literacy outcomes and helps children to learn words faster. And the study into effective educators of literacy indicated that effectual literacy teachers have a solid literacy information base that they build precise for their students, as well creating and making use of a rich literacy environment is helpful in learning words.
The process of language development
Language development is a social process. From the beginning children learn to talk as the consequence of being part of a social and educational fabric. It may well be said that we learn language, understand through language and learn regarding language at the same time as we use language. Language cannot be learned in segregation from others. As soon as children are born they come into a world that is filled of sounds and talk. From the first moment kids enter the world they find themselves to be a portion of adult conversations. The irresistible majority of the language shape in the children's immediate culture and environment are structured in adult conventions without any effort to simplify.
As parents and others pay attention to the daily needs of children they talk to the child and they use language that they neither think the child to know recognize or react to at this stage. While this language might frequently appear to be a clutter of noise and sounds, there is continuously one constant in play: meaning is being developed due to social interface. This is the major force that will run all through the initial years in each child's language development and beyond.
Young children can grasp a great deal a long lime before they can truly vocalize any familiar words. As functioning participants in the daily communications of life, slowly children understand that they can get things done with sounds and then words. Somewhere around 2 years of age children have start the course of genuine Communication with the use of familiar words and begin to bargain their own way through the world. They are not left to their own plans in this learning process but are backed by their family members. As children mature they gain an ever growing influence over their language through the shared help and support of their parents and others in their lives. It could be said that language development is interaction of action and reflection. In every human language, every time we speak or write we are normally at once both construing some characteristic of experience and performing some interpersonal drive.
The next element is one which stretches throughout the whole process of language development: the progress towards concept - children's development through the semantic territory of the broad, the conceptual and the metaphorical. This too is a development in the likely of the grammar, and we can detect it as we pursue how children build their grammatical resources. However there is still another semiotic obstacle remaining to be crossed: the move from the conceptual to the metaphorical. And this usually involves another 4 or 5 years of development. It is generally not until the age of 8 or 9 that children begin to assist metaphor in their grammar; and it takes them 2 to 3 years to sort it out and control it.
To sum it up, language is developed by the learner's when he or she interrelate with others in their surroundings as well as learner vows with their environment. A number of key provisions like interest, expression, interaction, conscientiousness, service, and response come simultaneously to develop language effectively. These conditions may help learners to interpret and assist teachers to provide the kinds of recital environments that they can provide in their classrooms.
Relationship between word learning and theory of mind
Before discussing the relationship of word learning and theory of mind, it is appropriate to first understand what theory of mind means. Theory of mind refers to an awareness of mental states for instance faith, wish, and understanding that facilitate us to clarify and guess others' behavior. Theory of mind is a wide-ranging concept that is manifested in many kinds of information and skills. Like language, theory of mind grows over time, building from initial, foundation skills to a complicated understanding of how mental states and behavior interrelate.
Right through the first few years of life, the learning of words and theory of mind are interlinked in complex ways. Both language and theory of mind go through fast and stagy developmental changes during the first 5 years of life, but there are reasons, however, to think progress in learning words and theory of mind to be connected because successful communication requires a comprehension of the psychological states of the interlocutor. A number of studies have suggested that children's theory of mind development is subjective to their contact to talk about mental circumstances. A study suggests that the mothers' talk about mental states envisage children's later theory of mind functioning, as did the children's language ability. Children's earlier theory of mind performance, nevertheless, did not predict later mental state talk by mothers, signifying a causal role for mothers' talk about psychological states in their kid s theory of mind development. It is not only mothers who may perform a role in theory of mind development. It was found that theory of mind knowledge at 40 months was connected with engagement in family talk about feelings and causality, and joint interaction with a sibling, at thirty-three months. There is proof that children with siblings are privileged in theory of mind development and word learning, most probably because of the chance for dialogue and experiences related to others' thoughts and outlook that siblings provide. In general, then, data from typical and atypical development imply that chance to listen to and connect in chat about mental states be a factor to the development word learning and theory of mind.
In recent years, researchers and theorists have gradually more highlighted the role of joint thought in the development of both word learning and theory of mind. The capability to react to adult bids for shared concentration has been found to be linked with vocabulary development in children with typical development. Scientist also found that the capability to connect in joint attention was linked with grammatical progress in children with typical development. For children with typical development learning their initial words, it is easiest to learn a thing label when an adult gives a name for an object that is previously the child's focus of attention. By 18 months, nonetheless, a baby with normal development can check what an adult is attending to when the adult speaks a new word, and form theory about the word's meaning correspondingly, even if the adult's focus of thought is different from the child's. Even though the relationships between joint attention and word learning and between language and theory of mind have been taken as not direct proof that joint attention is related to later theory of mind growth, direct proof of such an association was lacking. In a test of 13 children with typical development, scientist found that a degree of variable gaze between an adult and an attractive toy at 20 months was absolutely linked with theory of mind performance at 44 months. Therefore, there is a considerable body of proof supporting joint attention as a precursor of language development, and a logical connection between word learning and theory of mind via language; though, additional investigation of a direct association between word learning and theory of mind is needed. Adolescent listen to and take part in discussion in which people forecast and explain actions in terms of needs, idea, and feelings. This develops the word learning skills and encourages a developing theory of mind, whereas at the same time, gradually more complex theory of mind makes it likely to connect in meaningful communication.
The learning of concepts to learning of words
Much of our thoughts are filtered through language. For instance, the way we make sentences that include nouns and objects joined by verbs which influence how we understand cause and effect. In other words, once we can conceptualize whatever s clanking about in our heads, we can explain it with words. Concepts are an interface and aren t the object itself. By the same gesture, we learn and sort the understanding of our lives through accumulated concepts about ourselves and the people around us.
Relationship between thought and language
The relationship between the mind, thought, and language is merely a nexus in which it is impossible to detach one from the other. We barely ever think about how our thoughts are related to our words and sentences. It is usually because we use both so repeatedly and because you have no conscious awareness of the way the thoughts give rise to the words and language. Most linguistics shares the belief that language is mainly an exercise in thinking. Although language and thought are principally free they interrelate only at low levels of cognition, such as recognition and insight. Inputs from various modalities are dealt with in modality particular processors, using diverse computational means. According to this reasoning, language does not have an immediate impact on the higher levels of cognition.
Although for approximately two centuries scientist held that human thought uses language as a tool or vehicle in other words, that each human being believe in her own language. This thought, plus the belief that the numerous languages may vary significantly from each other in numerous and vital respects, a recent study shows that two individuals belonging to two diverse linguistic groups would vary in the way they think, imagine of the world, and therefore behave. The cognitive revolution altered the general view on the relationship between thought and language, and it appears to be fair to say that there are few scholars today who protect the position that language may be such an overarching means of thought. Instead of a picture in which language intrudes its theoretical web on mind, mind s own architectural and theoretical structures allow us to gain our language. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that our being linguistic individual is connected to our being predominantly intelligent, so that, for example, children experience a cognitive explosion as soon as they obtain language. Language s role as a way of communication is sufficient to account for this cognitive dissimilarity between linguistic humans and the rest: linguistic connections afford an astonishing amount of information, mutually about the globe and about the minds of the others. In contrast, other scholars think that language can assist us in thinking, particularly by objectifying our own opinion and making them understandable to consciousness.
As discussed above, scientists within conventional cognitive science defend the view that language, once learned, is used as the medium, or carrier, of our higher-order thoughts. The position differs from classical thought that language is not considered as a compulsory conceptual structure which means that there a prearranged mind before language is acquired.
The development of inner speech impacts language development
Inner speech is closely related to language and impacts the language development process and it occurs as a precursor. For teens speaking their first language, it is still that private speech usually emerges from inner speech. However, for a learner who has yet to develop a useful command of a language, the inner speech does not play a vital role because inner speech has not yet developed. Inner Speech is not primary but must be developed through social interaction. Inner speech initially surface from social interaction. At this phase, the learner is, in a sense, "borrowing" words, expressions and sentences picked up from social communication. Then it further develops from the learner's own verbal thought inner speech and gradually through verbal interaction that includes private speech. Study of the development of children's private speech show that it becomes more and more abridged, reflecting the growth of the child's developing capacity tor inner speech.
Inner speech gradually evolves from external speech, disjointed external speech, thought, and finally abbreviated speech for oneself, resulting eventually in the creation of true verbal thought these are not discrete stages, but are part of a dynamic continuum of language development, with cycling between stage and moving back and forth among them, the inner speech has much impact on language development.
As inner speech develops, speech becomes more and more abbreviated. Inner speech, once formed, prolong to develop in intricacy, ensuing in the child's capability to perform increasingly more composite cognitive operations. Once inner speech is ascertained, it is helpful to serve as a basis for language production. In short, to generate a speech, the speaker must expand inner speech into a word or sound that can be empathized by others.
Strategies that would enhance student language acquisition
There is a difference between language acquisition and language learning that is vital to understand in order to make effective strategies that would gradually enhance their language acquisition and fluency in the new language. Although no clear-cut formula for effective language acquisition exists. Similarly, there is no given set of learning strategies that works for everybody. Time and again through study and research the appropriate and efficient learning strategies commonly used are connected to several interrelated reasons, including but not partial to learner autonomy, meta-linguistic awareness, learning styles, gender, motivation, proficiency, and perceived effectiveness of learning strategies.
In order to properly plan the strategies two ideas are vital in understanding the complexity of language acquisition strategies they are a) use of motivation and b) meta-linguistic awareness. In the area of learner awareness and beliefs, the focus is less on the number of learning strategies and more on the types of strategies used. With this in mind, teachers whose students possess misunderstand notions about language learning have to provide them with assistance to avoid their inclination to use less valuable strategies-or to use more effective ones improperly. A few strategies I think could help enhance student language acquisition are as follows:
a) Teachers should work out clear-cut surveys at the start of their courses to categorize and assess student viewpoint about language accusation and the learning strategies they use. In doing this, teachers can become conscious of possible gaps in students' insight and direct their instruction of strategies in a more focused manner.
b) There must be a dialog with students throughout the duration of the language course by integrating short discussions regarding the specific topics being studied. The plan should be connected to successful outcomes so that students can see visibly how they lead to successful learning and develop the enthusiasm to use them.
c) Student should be active in taking training sessions, in doing so; the prevailing behaviorist viewpoint among students will give way to a further cognitive awareness of language and profitable learning.
d) Other than the above student should be provided opportunities for verbal interaction and lessons that contextualizes language as much as possible.
e) Workshops for writing and reading skills which allow students to choose the writing topics, outline, modify, manage, and publish their work as if they were professional authors. Reading workshops that will could help small groups or provide individual coaching it should make students to read the book to themselves at their own pace and helps them to decode it. Instructors should also conduct mini-lessons on the basis of the requirements of their students.
The decline of literacy in the middle/high schools
Literacy is the single most important result of education. Literacy is the gateway skill for success in school, career and life. Students who leave schools unable to read and write proficiently face great challenges and limited prospects for living and working in the 21st century. These students, however, have not failed. Research evidence and instructional practice clearly demonstrate that all students can learn to read and write. The failure stems from our educational system's inability to provide instructional programs that guarantee these students their educational right to literacy.
Although there is no noticeable evidence of a decline in literacy rate in middle and high in the United States, but if we look candidly at our middle and high school literacy data it will reveal that we are not meeting the standards. Students are more often getting poor test scores and poor circulation in our school libraries. Although the factors are not known but some teachers suggest the decline is because currently primary and middle schools concentrate on subjects such as technology as a substitute of reading and writing. Other reasons are that student and teachers don t often discuss about the importance of literacy and also the current trend to make colleges into trade schools may be part of the crisis.
To solve these issues teachers should spend more time discussing the responsibilities for ensuring that each and every student attains literacy. We need much research, brainstorming strategies for improving literacy throughout America and try putting in place a mixture of new literacy programs. We need support of specialists who spend time working with teachers and students to develop customized strategies for each school. We need an exciting new reading curriculum in the elementary schools to help readers at all levels and all middle and high schools should implemented reading motivation campaigns.
By studying particular ways in which literacy and language we not only learn a great deal about the principles of language, but can also start to glimpse the ideas and values that underlie the discourse. Literacy and language learning are more or less fun, regrettably the teaching methods has been turned into a multifaceted classroom ceremony, consisting of imperceptive grammar rules, frustrating drills, rote memory and tests. The result is that many people are disheartened from learning languages.