Language Teaching And Language Policy English Language Essay

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Relationships among language, culture and identity have become a favourite topic in social science for decades. In his book Primitive Culture, Edward Tylorÿ(1871) defines culture that "as complex whole which includes knowledge, morals, beliefs, art,

law, technology and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society"

Being human being communicative, interestingly, language reveals much more what we actually speak out, not only a means of communication. The Sapir - Whorf hypothesis states that the structure of a language influences the ways in which its speakers conceptualize their world or otherwise affects their cognitive processes.

The cultural worldview of a man is presented by the language and reflected through his responses in a specific period of time. Cultures are maintained from generation to generation and affected by geographical location and history of that nation as well as the interaction of that people over time. Simultaneously, language also develops to meet the need of communication of people. Therefore, it can be stated that your language can reveal many things about your identity. It can disclose your nationality, culture, religion, age, gender, level of

education, socio-economic class or your profession.

Mendoza-Denton (2002:475) defines "identity to mean the active negotiation of an individual's relationship with larger social constructs." This is

reflected in the language we use, our word choices in identifying ourselves as well as in the words we choose not to use. Language is part of one's

identity

Understanding the nature of the relationship between language and culture is central to the process of learning another language.It is also a chance

for language learners to discover or re-discover and more appreciate his or her identiy.

With my limited understanding about socialinguistic and my eagerness to more learning about a useful subject that enriches me - a language teacher - the knowledge of language's role in soceity as well as the implications for language teaching and language policy, I would like to discuss the following contents:

A. Discuss the relationship between language, culture and identity

The Sapir - Whorf hypothesis

Intercultural communication

Language as a core value and indentity

B. What are the implications for language teaching and language policy?

1. Language policy

2. Language and power

CONTENT

A. The relationship between language, culture and identity

1. The Sapir - Whorf Hypothesis

In linguistics, the Sapir - Whorf Hypothesis states that each language holds an own way to present its meaning that can not understood by those who belong to another language.

Native languages are concerned to strongly affect people's thinking.

Whofianism is another popular name for this hypothesis and is often defined as having two versions:

The strong version linguistic determinism that states that the language you speak determines the way that you will interpret the world around you.

In this case, interlocutors think much of how to speak to best express their ideas and how to avoid misunderstanding caused by spoken words. For example, in Vietnamese culture, when visiting a newborn baby, we usually say that "she/ he is very ugly" to mean that the baby is so cute. Vietnamese do not use direct saying to compliment a newborn baby.

In Western culture, questions about ages or marriage status are considered impolite.

The weak version that linguistic categories (part of speech) and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behaviour.

Noam Chomsky's theory: 'language is governed by a set of highly abstract principles that provide parameters which are given particular settings in different languages.' It means that the human brain contains a limited set of rules for organizing language. In turn, there is an assumption that all languages have a common structural basis. This set of rules is known as universal grammar.

Articles in Englis such as "a/an", "the" or gender of language in French maybe appropriate examples for this part.

Intercultural communication

Intercultural  communication generally refers to face - to - face interactions among people of diverse cultures.

If the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states that there are certain thoughts of an individual in one language that cannot be understood by those who live in another language, intercultural communication, according to Samovar and Porter (1991)., occurs when a member of one culture understands a message produced by another whose culture is different from him.

The Western cultures of America, New Zealand and Australia are informal when addressing a business associate and will usually use her first name. More formal cultures such as those found in parts of Europe use titles such as "Mr.," "Mrs." or "Dr.," along with with a family name. It is considered disrespectful to use a first name without permission. In speaking with an associate of a different culture, to avoid offending her, it is best to assume a high level of formality unless you are asked to use her first name.

In Japanese culture, long pauses in a conversation are normal, especially after a question. They need time to think over it. However, in other cultures, it is comfortable if interlocutors keep silence in a dialouge, there will be someone to speake to end the silence.

To work together without problems, people need to understand their differences. People belonging to diverse culture are still able to understand their language each other, however, there are the potential misunderstanding and disagreement. Learning about intercultural communication is a very good idea to reduce this risk. And a language teacher as a language messenger must realize this.

Language as a core value and identity

Mendoza-Denton (2002:475) defines "identity to mean the active negotiation of an individual's relationship with larger social constructs." These social constructs have been understood as comprising gender, ethnicity, and class following Gumprez (1982) in some of the earliest work on and identity

One's identity was understood as whom you were, and who we are or how we are seen by others may involve differing identities.

According to Zimmerman (1998), there are three types of identity:

(1) Discourse identity which is revealed through particular discourse and presented by speakers, hearers….

(2) Situational identity which is revealed through the specific situation. For example, a person who is half Italian half French may want to identify with a particular ethnicity in some social situation. (e.g., attending a soccer game). This choice may even be crucial for his personal security.

(3) Transportable identity which applies across situations and discourse and includes such constructs as ethnic, gender, and age.

A man's identity can be revealed through his language use. It can disclose his nationality, culture, age, profession and socio - economic class.

In my real teaching, my students are usually given the difference from phonetic transcribtion between British English and American English because there are some English words having the same writing with disimilar pronunciation. The difference in writing is also explained sometimes when needed.

 

British English

American English

 

Vocabulary

 

block

apartment 

 

call box 

phone booth

 

pavement

sidewalk

 

yard 

garden 

 

holiday 

vacation 

 

postman 

mailman 

 

 

Pronunciation

tomato

/tə'mɑ:təʊ/

/tə'mɞitοʊ/

photo

/ḟəʊtəʊ/

/ˈfoʊtoʊ/

psychology

/sɑɪˈkɒlədʒi/

/sɑɪˈkɑːlədʒɪ/

important

/ɪmˈpɔ:tnt/

/ɪmˈpɔ:rnt/

vase

/vɑːz/

/veɪz/

/veɪs/

Our pronunciation of the words, our grammartical structure usage, and our utterance reveal how we view ourselves linguistically. Our language choice reflects more than the way we view ourselves. That is the way how we are viewd by soceity as well.

According to Rembo (2004: 33-34), "A person's social identity comes from an individual's knowledge of himself as an individual in relationship to others." It can be stated that we construct our identity by how we perceive ourselves in the eyes of others.

Language is not only a means of communication but also self-identification. In a globalization communication, learning other languages as a second language positively promotes intercultural understanding across languages and cultures. In addition, personally, this is also an ideal way, especially for the youth of every country become aware of how our behaviours and social attitudes have been shaped by the languages and cultures we experience.

The implications for language teaching and policy

Learning and teaching another language will be more interested once we discover the beauty of language and successfully convey to learners. It should be exploited effectively for a better teaching; therefore, a motivated learning might be obtained.

Learning a new language means accessing a new culture. Teaching students how to internalize selectively is also a leading concern a language teacher should pay much attention to besides conveying the beauty of that second language.

Being a language teacher, I assum that we should realize deeply Language and Power as well as Language Policy to have an appropriate thinking to do teaching in the classroom.

Language and Power

During the period of domination in some countries, whether colonizers governed directly or indirectly, the political and cultural of those were greatly affected.

The people's wealth was the colonizers' real aim. However, economic and political control can never be obtained without mental control. It means that once language, which is part of culture, the tool of self-definition in relationship to other nations is under controlled, that people will be truly colonized.

Well understanding power of language will help students more motivated to learn the standard language as well as to selectively uncover what they take for granted and internalize as personal failure.

Language Policy

Language Policy is what a government does either officially through legislation, court decisions or policy to determine how languages are used cultivate language skills needed to meet national priorities or to establish the rights of individuals or groups to use and maintain languages (Wikipedia).

In terms of this definition, an overview about the status of reality of teaching and learning English language in Viet Nam would be best to support this part of my writing.

Since its open door policy in the mid 1980s, Viet Nam has welcomed many foreign organizations to invest and establish their business. As a result, the demand for English increased greatly in all aspects.

The Government of Vietnam is devoted to developing English language skills on a long-term strategic basis to compete more effectively in international markets and thereby achieve sustainable economic growth. One of the biggest reflections to push this strategy is a project whose title is Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages in the National Education System, Period 2008-2020 by the Ministry of Education which was approved by the Prime Minister. The authority promotes this project to obtain a result that, by 2020, the majority of young Vietnamese will be able to use English to communicate confidently and be able to study and work in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural environment; thus the industrialisation and modernisation of the country will be contributed by the more dynamic and better integrated young Vietnamese people. Common knowledge in many other fields at school is a background and English as a secon language is a key to get success for the youth and the development of the country as well.

In this setting, The implications for language teaching and policy therefore vast and far reaching. As a teacher of language, one must be culturally aware target language culture as well as the students', teacher`s, and administrative persons` culture thus avoiding any cultural misinterpretations.

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