Thursday, October 10, 2019

Human Linguistics and the Importance of Second Language Learning in Modern Living Essay

Language is among the most basic necessities for a person to live. Be it thru oral or written communication, it is inherent in every person to connect with the world. As the world becomes more complicated with all the things that are written about speech, language, and communication in general, it reveals itself as an indispensible part of human life. Now, it implicates more needs than the usual. The basic need for understanding and being understood has branched out to issues about global interconnectedness, political and economic dealings, and cultural relations among others. And it continues to take on several roles in nation-building and for the promotion of social mobility and employment. The advent of technology only makes it even harder for people to stop communicating with the rest of the populace. There is a wide variety of languages in the world right now. â€Å"Biologists studying communication among living beings in general [may think that]—all are relatively minor variations on the single theme of Human language† (Anderson, 2005). But from the point of view of a linguistics expert, the variations in types of sentence construction, pronunciation, and other rules governing languages are very important differences that imply causes yet undiscovered. These examples delineate the function of the biologists’ view of communication and the linguists’ of the same process. It is true indeed that there are more than one ways to look at something but seeing the communication process through different lenses provide more a single way to understand the phenomena. In doing so, people are able to form a holistic view of the process of communication and how it affects human life. The Role of Human Language At this point, language takes on bigger roles which may affect greater humanity. From simply being a medium of sharing how people think of or feel as of the moment, it has become rather an important part of creating human identity. And with the individual identities created by language, it becomes the precursor in creating a national identity (through the shared identities of many individuals living in the same geographical location). People might begin to wonder: why human identity? These may be two separate ideas but in fact they are closely related to each other. Language is directly related to the person and his country of origin. We were given the basic knowledge that those who speak Chinese came from China, people who speak Russian are from Russia, and so on. When our ancestors devised names for the different languages around the world, the name of the country speaking that language was used to identify the language spoken. It might not have any implication during those times and was only done to make things easier for people to remember. But now that people have taken the time to analyze the effect of this naming convention, language has indeed become instrumental to creating identity for people. The prevailing notion of people â€Å"’having’ a language, which is equated to ‘belonging’ to an origin group† (Urciuoli, 1995) is perfectly logical. But then again, because of the proliferation of foreign language studies, specific languages cannot be exclusive to just one place or country any more. In particular, English is not only for the people in England or America. English varieties have come about which decentralized the use of the language. While language origins can still be identified, other nationalities already have the capacity to speak the same. This concept will be discussed further in the latter pages. Human Beings in Terms of a Speaker of a Language Unique to Them Being able to speak a language means mastering the abstractions of the language codes. Semantics, as the study of signs, is an important tradition of thought in communication theory† (Stephen W, 2008). Often times, the theory of semantics are used to explain why words are not really the images that we think of but are rather representation of truth. â€Å"The meaning is arbitrarily assigned† (What is Language, 2006). Therefore, the speaker of a particular language is a person who was able to understand and make sense of the abstraction. This abstraction contributes to the creation of the person’s perception and language skills. And if you will notice, the primary language that a person learned is vital in the subsequent languages that he will study. For example, native Korean speakers might be able to study and speak the English language but often times they are not able to eliminate the â€Å"e† sound after every English word they say. This only proves that the prior language learned by a non-native English speaker is able to influence subsequent languages studied throughout his lifetime. Notwithstanding the presence of Language Acquisition Devices, a person may or may not be successful in learning a new language but if he is then the prior influence will be evident in the newly learned language. The Role of Second/Foreign Language Foreign language becomes even more important now that the world is geared towards globalization. With much concerted effort to adopt a common language, which is English as of the moment, all other countries strive to educate their citizens in communicating using that foreign language. â€Å"Marshall McLuhan was the first person to popularize the concept of a global village and to consider its social effects† (Stewart, 2010). Those who fail to appreciate this effort do not acknowledge the fact that in the global village, the barrier-less communication paves the way for three phenomena: 1. Global information dissemination for improved understanding between nations. 2. It is also the appreciation of cultures other than your own. 3. Aids in the self-actualization of the second language learner. The first phenomenon is plain and simple. If you are going to look at the job of the ambassadors, it looks as if it’s all prestige and fun. In fact, it is predominantly driven by hard work. It is extremely difficult to make great relationships with other countries because there will always be a reason to be skeptical of something you are not familiar with. That is the reason why ambassadors find time to learn the language of the countries where they will be assigned: because insisting on speaking a different language might take its toll upon the relations of the ambassador’s country to the country of assignment. The second phenomena are also something simple which has profound implications at the end of the day. Reasons for Speaking Foreign Language Using the logic that language is culture, learning another language is therefore a way to expose one’s self to another group of people’s way of living. As you immerse yourself in the language, the culture goes with it and in a matter of months the foreign language learner will know whether he likes and would want to continue studying that foreign language. The satisfaction As of today, learning a foreign language has become a necessity. It doesn’t have to be a â€Å"dominant† language for it to be learned by anyone. Although English has become a very popular language to study (considering the political and economic influence of the United States to the rest of the world), studying the language of a small country with not much of an influence to the world can happen because of various reasons. For one, travelling often to a particular place would make a person want to study the language of the person. Or probably, a person who plans to study or work abroad needs to learn the language of the country first before he is cleared at the immigration office. And still, there are underlying reasons behind this. It is probably caused by the need to communicate in the native tongue of the people in that country. Communicating through their native language lends them the feeling of being part of the place. Whereas, not knowing the language alienates the person—it becomes obvious that he is an â€Å"outsider† because he doesn’t know how to speak the language. Another reason for studying a foreign language is to increase the cultural capital of a person. This concept was proposed by Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist. He argued that â€Å"these ‘advantages’ stem from the institutionalization of ‘criteria of evaluation’ in schools†¦ which are favorable to a particular class or classes† (Bourdieu, 1977). It must be noted that a couple of decades back, learning a second language is exclusive for those in the upper class of the social triangle—being able to speak another language becomes a status symbol. But that was true in the past years. Nowadays, there are many ways for a person to learn another language without having to spend a lot of money. One way is by subscribing to free online language tutorials. Nevertheless, even if this language skill is already available to most people, the concept of cultural capital is still there. And the person who knows more languages has the advantage. A rather intrinsic motivation for learning a new language is the appreciation of that particular language and the culture that is associated with it. Adopting this kind of perspective will make the process of learning a language enjoyable and â€Å"less results-oriented† (Tender, 2008). The motivational approach of this kind of learning allows the second language learner to appreciate the value of the language prior to learning it. It is rather encouraging for the person to learn the language continuously because the benefit is achieved intrinsically. The Role of the Second Language Teacher Apparently, there are â€Å"benefits and advantages to those who take the time to explore the language of a culture different than their own† (What is the Importance of Learning a Second Language? ). And whatever these benefits and advantages are, it is the duty of the second language teacher to make his/her students realize it. The role of a second language teacher takes on a support role which motivates the student every step of the way. By doing so, the students therefore realize the importance of what they are doing and will adopt a learning mechanism in which the rewards are rather intrinsic. It is also not enough for the second language teacher to stop at teaching grammar and syntax rules. More important than teaching the language is teaching them why they wanted to study the language in the first place. Often times, those teachers who elicit a compelling need for their students to study the language are the ones who are most successful with their teaching career. They do not stop at the superficial level of teaching a language but rather delve on the subjective inferences of asking the question â€Å"why†. Also, like any other teacher, a second language teacher is an agent of change. The author says that these people are agents of change because they are able to arm the students with the right kind of knowledge to face the global village. A person who knows how to speak a language other than his native tongue is able to communicate more effectively. And by doing so, they are also able to spur changes in their surroundings. Suppose that a foreign exchange student is well adept at using the language of his/her host country. That student is empowered to make a difference in the lives of his host family and host institution by sharing his thoughts and ideals through the language used in that place. And he/she will only be able to do so if his/her foreign language teacher was able to act as an agent of change to the student. As a final word, different teachers can assume different roles in different situations. It may be that at one point a teacher is task-oriented (meaning the teacher is focused on how each activity or lesson will improve the language skills of the students). Another is that the teacher can also be a counselor or a colleague which are both supportive in nature. Their mindset is to join the students along the way and help them as if they are both on the same ground. Lastly, the motivational teacher is focused on how he will be able to create more value out of the student’s learning experience. Often times, the motivational teacher does not teach the language concepts in isolation with the benefits and necessity of learning such. These two ideas are intertwined to create more significance for every lesson. As of today, we are still on the lookout for teachers who are able to balance the different facets of teaching roles. But â€Å"generally, all the teachers are preoccupied with task-related functions, treating the aspect of motivation and interpersonal roles as a useful but not an indispensable addition† (The role of the foreign language teacher in the classroom — the teachers† beliefs and role behavior versus the students† expectations. , 2002) Conclusion Ultimately, language will be an important part of our lives. No matter what differences will come about in the upcoming years it will continue to become the medium by which people are to express their thoughts and ideas. Moreover, this will significantly increase the need for people to use language in nation-building purposes and for the betterment of the society where they belong to. Bibliography Anderson, S. R. (2005, April). How Many Languages are There in the World? Retrieved July 10, 2010, from Linguistics Society of America: http://www. lsadc. org/info/pdf_files/howmany. pdf Andrea A. Lunsford, j. J. (2001). Everything’s an Argument. Massachusetts: Bedford St. Martin’s. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction. New York: Oxford University Press. Davis, W. (1952). Practical World Language. The Science News-letter , 10-11. Met, M. (n. d. ). Improving Student’s capacity on Learning Foreign Language. Phi Delta Kappan , 214-218. Mulford, G. W. (1989). 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