Free Essays

A language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country


Although English is not the mother tongue of everyone, many people around the world can speak English more or less. The process of practicing English likes the cell division takes the widest group of people as a common used language. A global language known as world language means one language which can be under used to communicate in every country. In spite of English can not be the only global language, it takes an active part in economic, science and many other areas in the recent years. With a large amount of native speakers and wide usage in the world, there is not any other languages can take the place of it as a global language in the recent years. However, several years later, Spanish might become another global language for the widely usage on business and the large group of speakers. In the next parts of this article, there would be the reasons which cause English to be a global language, the current for Spanish to be a global language and the comparison of these to languages.

Firstly, English is a common used language in the world and more people want to learn English. The United States is the world’s largest English-speaking country as the number of users of English for 20% of world total. In Europe, English is one of the big languages. According to the research by Sysfret in 1997, there were over 70% of viewers show that they can follow the news in English among the surveys of European satellite TV audiences confirm the widespread understanding of English. What is more, on the report of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs pointed out that in China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, 96% to 100% of people believe that children should learn English. 90% of Japanese elementary school English courses have been opened, the Chinese began to open schools in third grade English class, in addition to up to 50,000 English training centre is completed. People in these countries act English as a tool to become successful. Asia is not only the area which show respect to English. In South America, government trained the students with English, and in many countries in the Africa, English is one of the languages which can be chosen.

Second is the widening application area of English. Besides the common communication, English are widely used in economic area, publishing area and academic area and so on. In the economic area, people from different countries using different mother tongue would put English as the first language to deal with the cooperation in business programs. Crystal (1997) found that one of the working language as English in international organization took 85% which is much larger than other languages. In the European countries, this predominance showed more to 99%, as opposed to 63% French and 40% German. In the publishing area, English is the most widely used language for book publishing as a foreign language. When English is spoken as a second language, the books publishing take 28% of all languages, twice than the following one—-Chinese, and much more than other languages. In the academic area, English shows much more powerful. There is an example of disciplines in which German academics claim English as their working language. It displayed that English takes 98%on physics, 83% in chemistry, and 81% in biology.

There are some reasons that English can grow as a global language around the world. Firstly, native speakers of English as a mother tongue are most from the USA, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and so on. These countries are most developed countries and take important part in the world economy. These countries, for example the USA, take control of the lifeblood of the global economy and have trade relationships with most countries. English as one of the official language of the United Nations, the decision is also because of this reason. In David Crystal’s words in the year of 2003, if a country chooses a particular language as a favoured foreign language, there should be great variation including historical tradition, political expediency, and the desire for commercial, cultural or technological contact. More over, the government should support this kind of language and help people to learn it. The United Kingdom used to be the most powerful country in the world. It had got many colonies and people in those countries can speak English. Nowadays the USA instead of the United Kingdom to be the mistress of the world, the power also influences other countries to learn English.

Just like the United Kingdom, Spain has got many colonies in the early ages. Central and South America, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico, Cuba and Jamaica, the Caribbean and so on, in Asia, they also began to establish a presence in the Philippines, the gradual occupation of islands to the south of the 16th century except Palawan Island, Mindanao and outside of Sulu Islands and other places, the colonists have been conquered. North-west of the Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla are all the colonies of Spain. The language of Spanish gets in these areas and influences the language of local. In the seven continents, there is about 352,000,000 people use Spanish, especially in Latin America. It takes 5.6% of the world’s population who speak Spanish as the first language. Among the top ten languages used on the internet, Spanish took 8.9% as the third place. In the last ten years, the historical dimension of the use of Spanish rose. In the gross national product early 1990s, countries using the language per 1000US$, Spanish took the second place. (George Weber. 2008)

Spanish is one of the official languages of African Union, the European Union and the United Nations. In 1948, Spanish became one of working language in the United Nations. Among the research of David Crystal, in 1995, Spanish take the fifth place in “global influence” of major languages according to the engco model. Moreover, in the hierarchy of the world language in 2050, Spanish stay in the highest group with English, Chinese, Arabic and regional languages.

It can be seen that Spanish has many similarities as English. First is that both language are widen by colony in the first period of time. Second is that both languages have large popularity of native speakers and second-language speakers. Third is they both are official languages in the United Nation. Fourth is the shown that the influence of both languages growing in the current days.

English nowadays acts as a global language, and Spanish tread on the heels of English and might become another global language in the few years later under the trend for widely use in economic, science and

Reference List:

Crystal D (2003). English as a Global Language. Cambridge, UN: Cambridge University Press.

Graddol D. (1997). The Future of English. The British Council.

Sysfret, T. (1997). Trend setters. Cable and Satellite Europe, January, pp.34-7

Weber G (2008). TOP LANGUAGES: The World’s 10 most influential Languages. Retrieved from:

Whitney. C. B (2008). Soft Power in Asia: Results of a 2008 Multinational Survey of Public Opinion. Retrieved from:

Free Essays

An analysis of who makes a better teacher: native or non-native speakers in English Language Teaching context.


In the recent years, the increase in the number of non-native English speakers (NNS) in the world has led to the appearance of so many different varieties of English and has influenced some important issues related to English language teaching (ELT). The terms Native and Non-native have been used to refer to speakers of a language. Since about only one out of four users of English in the world is a native speaker (NS) of the language (Crystal, 2003), most interactions take place among non-native speakers (NNS) of English. According to Kachru’s three circles: inner (native English speaking countries), outer (counties where English is not the primary language but is widely spoken) and expanding (countries where learning of English is encouraged), the majority of English speakers are located in the outer or expanding circles, using English as lingua franca (EFL) (Quirk and Widdowson, 1985, p.11).

One of the main subjects running through discussions of ELF is the insignificance of native speakers, their ownership of English and their Englishes, confirmed by the fact that English is the language for international communication and is nowadays used by more non-native than native speakers. This leads to theoretical assertions such as ‘World English (WE) belongs to everyone who speaks it, but is nobody’s mother tongue’ (Rajagopalan, 2004, p.3) and how English develops in the world is of no relevance to native English speaking countries (Widdowson, 1994, p.385). Also a pedagogical claim, is that as long as English is learned as an international language, it should not be thought as an inner circle language and should not come from an inner circle country (Matsuda, 2003). What’s more, it is well-known that not all native speakeing teachers of English have the necessary qualifications to do so. However, it is often taken for granted that the only rightful speakers of a language are its native speakers (Cook, 1999). On the other hand, sometimes qualified non-native English speaking teachers are not considered good by administrators in order to get teaching jobs. In many cases they do not realise how much they can learn from non-native speaking teachers and they believe that the native speaker is the best.

In this paper, I will explore the topic of native speakers and the ownership of language. I will also discuss strengths and weaknesses of native and non-native language teachers and how they benefit them in ELT contexts. Also I will draw attention to which type of English we should teach and which language teacher is better: a native or non native English speaker.

Which type of model should we teach?

The general assumption of the purpose of teaching English is to develop student’s proficiency as closely as possible to that of native speakers. It is widely believed that Standard English can ensure the high quality of clear communication and standard of intelligibility. Therefore, both American English and British English are considered as the right choice for EFL/ESL learners in formal education. However, according to the up-going trend of world Englishes, EFL/ESL learners should be encouraged to learn different varieties of English to meet different needs, rather than only the Standard or standard variety of English.

Standard English is usually defined as a variety of English which is used in speaking and writing by ‘educated’ language users, and is concerned with lexis and grammar, but not pronunciation (Trudgill and Hannah, 1994).

Standard English is not a language, but only one minority of given English. Firstly, British English was regarded as Standard English because of the expansion of British colony power. Also, American English is commonly considered as Standard English due to the fact that U.S. grows to be a leading economic and military power. So, the next question is which variety of English will be the next Standard English in the futureIt is hard to predict the answer which country will dominate word economic and military power in the futureConsequently, from a historical perspective there is no fixed Standard English. Trudgil (1999, p.125) presumes, Standard English is the only dialect with great prestige that differs from other dialects of English and the difference in those varieties do not point out the linguistic superiority of the standard form.

Issues relying upon native speaker norms

Kachru suggests that if we classify Standard English dialects according to how closely they look like an original native speaker model, then we might also believe American English to be a fossilised interlanguage of its historically large immigrant population (Jenkins, 2002).

Jenkins (2002) tried to find a reasonable target for speakers of different first languages to be able to comprehend one another. Regardless of luck of available research on the subject, it is safe to say that specific characteristics of NSs pronunciation are likely to cause problems for NNs in both reception and production: one of this is the tendency of many native speakers to reduce unstressed vowels (Jenkins, 2002).

Another issue has been highlighted by Cook (1999) that to be a ‘native speaker’ of a language, you must have acquired that language from birth. She argues that, non-native English speakers can never assume the identity of a ‘native speaker’ no matter how hard they try… it is like expecting ducks to become swans (Cook, 1999, p.187-190). The study by Golobek and Jordan (2005) pointed out that some students see the native speaker ideal as unachievable: they feel that their English is never sufficient and that there are always new vocabularies and slang, thus they feel incompetent to speak English fluently (Golobek and Jordan, 2005, p.519-520).

Advantages of native and non-native English speakers in the EFL/ESL classroom

First indications regarding the differences between native and non-native speaking EFL/ ESL teachers appeared in the 80’s. For example Edge (1988) advocated the importance of giving ‘real’ models (native speakers of the EFL/ESL students’ languages) to the students. As supported by McKey (2003) these ‘real’ models speak the language of the students natively and have learned to speak English well, as opposed to ‘foreign’ models (NSs) who do not share the social, cultural and emotional experience of the students.

The first person to write an article comparing native and non-native English speaking teachers was Medgyes (1992, p.348). In the article he stated that the ideal NS teacher is the one who has attained a high degree of proficiency in the learners’ mother tongue and the ideal NNS teacher is the one who has atteined near-native proficiency in English.

Another ongoing debate is who makes a better teacher, native or non-native speakersAccording to Canagarajah NSs will be better teachers in EFL context because of their unique culture knowledge, while NNSs will be better teachers in ESL context because of their multicultural experience (Braine, 1999, p.77). This claim is not supported by Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL) teachers, who seem to believe that NNS teachers would be better teachers in their own countries (Llurda, 2005). In contrast to this Medgyes (1994) has described the following positive features about NNS teachers, that they:

can provide more information about the language to their students
are a good learner model to their students
can teach language strategies effectively
understand the difficulties and
can use the students native language to their advantage in EFL settings

And then he explains that if the insufficient language of the NNS teachers is corrective they have equal chance to achieve professional success as the native English-speaking teachers.

Several studies were conducted that investigated the pedagogical and linguistic differences between non-native and native English-speaking teachers. For example McNeil (2005) noticed that trainee Chinese non-native teachers were very skilled at predicting which word would be difficult and easy to understand for Cantonese-speaking EFL students, while both expert and trainee native –speaking teachers were incapable of making accurate predictions. Another example is when it comes to finding and correcting errors NNSs were often less tolerant of errors than NSs when marking college-level ESL assignments (Sheorey, 1986). According to Barratt and Kontra (2000) regarding to language awareness, NSs are often unable to empathize with students going through the learning process. Additionally, NS teachers can also easily discourage their students since they are hardly even able to make useful contrasts and comparisons with the learners’ first language. Arva and Medgyes (2000) supported the above statement in their study which showed a unique advantage NNS English teachers have over NS teachers is that they can empathise very well with their students’ learning difficulties and understand what it is to be homesick and experience culture shock (in ESL context).

Lastly, NNS teachers can be very much admired by their students because they are successful role models and often very motivated (Lee, 2000, cited in Llurda, 2005, p.107). As Cook (Llurda, 2005, p.57) clarifies, NNS teachers provide examples of people who have become successful second language (L2) users and provide models of proficient (L2) users in action in the classroom. This example shows that NNS teachers demonstrate to their students what is possible with a second language, their appreciation for that language and its culture. To conclude, instead of looking at NSs and NNSs as a two separate groups (one being better or more qualified to be a teacher than the other), we should emphasise cooperation and help between NS and NNS teachers, since both groups have specific advantages and weaknesses ( Matsuda and Matsuda, 2001).

Some classroom implications

Classroom implications comprise what needs to be done to give all the necessary tools to NNSs and NSs teachers so that they are able to meet the expectations of EFL and ESL students. The presented issues discussed above show a distinct need for TESOL preparation programs by offering additional courses for future NNS and NS teachers (Golombek and Jordan, 2005). Such classes could help ensure future teachers to get ready pedagogically for their teaching assignment. Additionally, this could help NSs of English become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and learn to collaborate with NNSs to offer the best teaching to students. This preparation and collaboration of both groups (NSs and NNSs) is important when NSs will be teaching in countries where English is not the main language and where NNSs may be at a distinct advantage (Medgyes, 1994; Govowdhan et al. 1999). Furthermore, recognising and working with the multiple identities of non-native and native EFL/ESL trainee teachers would help establish their legitimacy as teachers (Golombek and Jordan, 2005). Another aspect is that youth plays an important role in today’s globalisation and the spread of English (Berns de Bot and Hasebrink, 2007), because English is strongly influencing the lives of children and young adults to where the politics, economy, educational changes, culture and societies are shaped by their knowledge (or lack of knowledge) of English. It is uncertain that this knowledge of English will be restricted to one single variety of the language, because new varieties of Englishes are evolving throughout the world (Kachru, 1985; Jenkins 2000; Berns at al. 2007) with accents, words and expressions.


Taking into consideration in the use of English today, it appears vital not to teach ESL/EFL students one single model or accent, but essential to present them with a large range of English varieties represented by teachers from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds (Jenkins, 2000). What’s more EFL/ESL students can make a choice and decide for themselves what is most relevant to their context and experience (Bentahaila and Davies, 1989). Research has proved that both native and non-native speakers of English have their own strengths and weaknesses. The main difference between both groups is that “NSs have the more extensive experience as language users whereas the NNSs have had experience as language learners” (Widdowson, 1992, p.338). As a growing number of people around the world want to learn English the number of NN English teachers is accordingly increasing and better attention has been given to what they bring to the language classroom (Moussu and Llurda, 2008, p.341). Regardless of the existing belief that, native speakers of a language make better teachers, the amount of research questioning this and providing evidence on how important it is to recognise the strengths in native and non-native teachers has been valuable and has sown that both can be equally good professionals, in spite their native and non-native status. As stated by Matsuda (2001) ‘language background is only one of many factors that define who we are as a professional’ and without a doubt, it is unreasonable to judge professionals in regards to their native language alone.


Arva, V. And Medgyes, P. (2000) ‘Native and non –native teachers in the classroom’, System, 28(3), pp.355-372.

Barratt, L. and Kontra, E. (2000) ‘Native English speaking teachers in cultures other than their own’, TESOL Journal, 9(3), pp.19-23.

Bentahaila, A. and Davies, E. (1989) ‘Culture and language use: A problem for foreign language teaching’, International Review of Applied Linguistics, 17(2), pp.99-112.

Berns, M. de Bot and Hasebrink, U. (2007) In the Presence of English: Media and European Youth. New York: Springer.

Braine, G. (1999) Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching. New Jersey : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cook, V. (1999) ’Going beyond the native speaker in language teaching’, TESOL Quarterly, 33(2), pp.185-208.

Crystal, D. (2003) English as a Global Language. 2 nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edge, J. (1988) ‘Natives, speakers, and models’, Japan Association of Language Teachers Journal, 9(2), pp.153-157.

Golobek, P. And Jordan, S. (2005) Becoming ‘black lambs’ ant ‘parrots’: A poststructuralist orientation to intelligibility and identity. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), pp.513-533.

Govowdhan, A.K, Nayar, P.B. and Sheorey, R. (1999) ‘Do U.S. MATESOL programs prepare students to teach abroad?’ TESOL Quarterly, 33(1), pp.114-125.

Jenkins, J. (2000) The phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, J. (2002) ‘A sociolinguistically Based, Empirically Researched Pronunciation Syllabus for English as an International Language’, Applied Linguistics, 23(1), pp.83-103.

Lee, I. (2000) ‘Can a nonnative English Speaker be a good English teacher?’, TESOL Matters, 10(1), pp.19.

Llurda, E. (2005) Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession. New York: NY Springer.

Matsuda, A. (2003) ‘Incorporating world Englishes in teaching English as an International Language’, TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), pp. 719-729.

Matsuda, P. K. (2001) ‘My credo as an NNES professionals’, NNEST Newsletter, 3(1)4 [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 13 May 2011)

Matsuda, A. and Matsuda, P. K. (2001) ‘Autonomy of collaboration in teacher education: Journal sharing among native and nonnative English-speaking teachers’, CATESOL Journal, 13(1), pp.109-121.

McKey, S. L. (2003) ‘Towards an appropriate EIL pedagogy: Re-examining common ELT assimptions’, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13(1), pp.1-22.

Medgyes, P. (1992) ‘Native or non-native: Who’s worth more?’, ELT Journal, 46(4), pp.340-349.

Medgyes, P. (1994) The non-native teacher. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Moussu, L. and Llurda, E. (2008) ‘Non-native English-speaking English language teachers: History and research’, Language Teaching, 41(3), pp.315-348.

Rajagopalan, K. (2004) ‘The Concept of the “World English” and its implications for ELT’, ELT Journal, 58(2), pp.111-117.

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Trudgill, P. (1999) Standard English: What it isn’t. London: Routledge.

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Widdowson, H. G. (1994) ‘The Ownership of English’, TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), pp.377-389.

Free Essays

What aspects of language, if any, are innate?


Human language is a remarkable symbolic communication system through which knowledge, belief, and behavior can be experienced and shared. The number and variety of human languages in the world is stunning – there are thought to be around 7,000 distinct languages. Human language is flexible, meanings can be changed and new symbols created.

Humans speak a variety of different languages, and children appear to learn language effortlessly just from hearing it from their environment. By a very young age children can normally command their native language with great fluency and accuracy. Across cultures there is a universal pattern of language development in children. Children produce their first word sometime at the end of their first year. After this language acquisition appears to happen rather fast – normally developing children master language with a speed that makes learning it in an empirical sense unlikely. However does the fact that all humans exhibit certain behaviour prove that that it is innate rather than learned?

Learning a language requires, amongst other things, learning the phonology (sound patterns), the lexicon (the words), as well as the rules of syntax, all of which can vary substantially across languages. This essay will attempt to understand just how much of language is innate by analyzing various aspects of language and looking at evidence from studies on language innateness.

According to Chomsky (1980) there is not enough information in the child’s environment to facilitate all necessary learning. This so-called “poverty of the stimulus” led to the idea that there is an innate knowledge that serves as a starting point for learning the language.

From their birth infants begin engaging in communication with their parents and siblings and listen to their speech. The child will unconsciously recognise which kind of a language they are using and will ‘set the parameters’ of a correct grammar. Infants use these principles and parameters to guide their perception of speech. The child senses that some words refer to objects and some to actions and that there is a distinctive set of rules for ordering words in a sentence. Chomsky referred to this innate mechanism as ‘Language Acquisition Device’ (LAD). LAD helps infants to pick up the complex grammatical principles of their language and facilitates fast learning (Harley, 2008).

Evidence supporting the existence of LAD comes from that fact that all languages share a similar underlying “deep structure” of grammar – Universal grammar as Chomsky called it. Universal grammar provides a set of basic grammatical rules that are common in all natural languages, which explains how children acquire and master their language in a brief time period. For example all languages have words for “water” and “food” because all people need to refer to water and food. All language use nouns and verbs, have prefixes and suffixes and use a certain type of word order.

Syntax comprises rules for how words are combined into sentences. If syntax was innate in us all, then teaching language would be merely the process of making conscious what was held in a level of subconsciousness the whole time and we should be able to learn language at any time.

According to Chomsky Universal grammar is the basis upon which all human languages are built (Harley, 2008). Children do not simply copy the language that they hear from their environment. They deduce rules and they use to these rules to produce sentences that they have never heard before.

The abstract representations of grammatical rules are language universals. Some universals might be part of the innate component of the grammar or the cognition. Languages evolve so they are easy to understand. Linguistic universals are features that can be found in all languages. They include categories of syntax, semantics and phonology. Semantics refers to the meaning of language. Chomsky viewed all semantic notions as innate. This means that even novel concepts were considered to have been latent in some sense.

If children assume that semantic and syntactic categories are related they can use semantic properties of words and phrases to analyze the rules of their language and form associations between semantics and syntax. For example, a child can infer that a word that refers to a person, place or thing is a noun, the word describing an action is a verb and so on (Harley, 2008). Some view that a large dictionary (lexicon) is needed before one can understands syntax.

When starting to speak children begin with simple lexical items for people, food, toys and animals. As they get older their lexicon grows in complexity. From a historical perspective lexicon undergoes its own evolution – unused words die out and new expressions are added. New words are invented to describe novel concepts and foreign words are borrowed from other languages. For instance terms such as ‘texting’ and ’apps’ were not in general use two decades ago but they are commonly present in our lexicon now.

One of the criticisms of Chomsky’s theory is that he relies upon children’s intuitions as to what is right or wrong in language- but it is not clear that all people will make the same judgements, or that their judgements actually reflect the way people use the language. Chomsky also appears to reduce language to its grammar. By ignoring social context and meaning he neglects the importance of particular cultural and historical frameworks in which the child learns his first language.

Pinker supports Chomsky’s view that syntax is innate. According to Pinker children are equipped with innate syntactic categories that allow them to understand that nouns refer to objects and verbs refer to actions. On top of this, children are predisposed to induce rules. Children are also innately capable of linking rules to semantic categories of thematic roles. Although the child might not know syntactic rules they able to distinguish the words in simple spoken sentences. If the child knows the surface structure of a sentence and the meaning of the sentence it can infer the underlying structure. This is known as ‘semantic bootstrapping’ (Harley, 2008).

Goldin-Meadow (2003) studied deaf children in the United States and Taiwan who communicated with gestures rather than conventional sign languages. Goldin-Meadow discovered that in the absence of recognized sign language children developed complex sentence structures on their own without having to learn them first from their parents.

Further evidence that there is biological drive to develop syntax comes from studies of a community of deaf children in Nicaragua. In 1981, a school for deaf children was opened in Nicaragua. The children were not initially taught a sign language, but they began developing a system of gestures helping them to communicate with one another. Over time a sophisticated sign language developed. This evidence suggests that children can instinctively break information down into independent units and then flexibly put them back together to form more sophisticated utterances with a wider range of meanings. This implies that basics of language are part of the innate gift (Kegl, Senghas and Coppola, 1999) and supports Chomsky‘s idea that children are born with an innate sense of grammar and syntax.

Studies of pidgin and creole languages (Bickerton, 1981) support an idea of innate drive to learn syntax. Pidgin are basic languages invented to allow communication between speakers of different languages. Creole is the language of the children of pidgin speakers. Creole utilizes the vocabulary derived from pidgin, but has its own complex syntax and morphology. Creole speaking children were capable of creating an entirely new language from the bits and pieces of information taken from pidgin. This suggests that there was a starting point for all of today’s languages. In a course of time, languages then evolved under different circumstances and hence are different today.

Recent research by Dunn et al. (2011) contradicts Chomsky’s theory that there is set of universal rules, applicable to all languages. Dunn et al. were interested in exploring the evolution of word-orders across different languages. They analysed over 300 languages belonging to different language families including Indo-European and Austronesian. They found that word orders from different language families evolve differently. For instance, some languages place the verb at the beginning of the sentence and some at the end of the sentence. Dunn et al concluded that syntax is determined more by the historical and cultural context in which a language develops than by universal factors. These results indicate that different processes occur in different language families.

And how about the phonetics of languageEach language consists of hundreds of phonemes (sounds). Distinguishing between these sounds allows us to recognize and identify subtle differences in dialects and accents and see beyond the obvious meaning of words.

Using the High Amplitude Sucking Technique, Eimas et al. (1971) showed that in the first few months of life, babies reliably discriminate many different phonemes, whether or not they occur in their language. Infants one and four months old could discriminate between ‘ba’ and ‘pa’ sounds. At the age of nine months the infants were able to discriminate virtually all phonetic contrasts presented to them. Eimas et al concluded that the ability to distinguish phonemes must be innate as it would appear unlikely that the infant could have learned to categorise phonemes at such a young age.

In order to investigate whether human ability to distinguish between different phonemes is innate Golestani (2011) used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brain structures of seventeen phoneticians against sixteen control participants. Findings showed a brain area involved in speech production and analysing and distinguishing speech sounds correlates with the amount of time spent analysing phonemes. The shape of the left auditory cortex was also different between expert phoneticians and controls. These findings suggest that a person’s ability to successfully distinguish between phonemes could stem from birth.

Our bodies, particularly throats and brains, appear to be adapted and specialised to the tasks of language. Our vocal cords and ears allow us to perceive and use language. Language production and comprehension are complex tasks, involving various brain areas. Certain regions in the brain appear to be specialized for commanding language tasks, such as Wernicke’s area for language comprehension and Broca’s area for language production.

Lesions to certain regions of the brain cause distinctive language problems – aphasias – these are in the same area the same across species. This supports the view that language localization in the brain is innate. Specific Language Impairment (SLI) is a disorder in which language falls below person’s mental age without an accompanying brain damage. An example is a case of an English family in which a type of hereditary impairment was observed that only affects certain morphemes with other aspect of language and cognition being unaffected. However more comprehensive studies showed that the participating family members suffer from a number of other deficits inside and outside of language (Harley, 2008).

Noam Chomsky claims that certain parts of the human brain have purposefully evolved to enable language production and comprehension. The opposing view is that language simply utilizes brain structures that were already present before the actual development of language.

According to Ralph-Axel Mueller (1996) the specialization of certain regions of the brain for language processing is the result not the cause of language development and it cannot be concluded that higher brain functions are innate.

One reason for innateness theories to be seriously considered is that human species is the only one that possesses language. In numerous studies effort has been made to teach animals (mostly primates) language. Chimpanzees like Washoe and Sarah have been trained to acquire sign language. Most impressive of all was a bonobo named Kanzi. Through training Kanzi had acquired vocabulary of 200 symbols and was able to construct very basic sentences consisting of few words. Compared with other chimps, Kanzi’s achievements were striking, but they were still far away from abilities of human children. The results of other studies have been similar – primates needed long and intensive training and were only able make simple constructions at the end (Fodor, Bever & Garett 1974). Chomsky explains these findings through the presence of an innate ability for language acquisition in human children. It is the lack of the LAD what makes it difficult for primates to learn language.

Pragmatics is a theory of appropriate language use in context, it studies how people comprehend and produce language and engage in a conversation. It considers the participants’ knowledge about phenomena such as social distance, relationship between the speakers and cultural knowledge.

Language is easy for humans to learn to produce and understand but this is not exclusively because our brains embody knowledge of language but also because language has adapted to us. It is difficult to distinguish whether language has evolved to fit the human brain or vice versa. Languages that are problematic for humans to learn would struggle to come into existence at all.

Language helps to shape our thoughts and emotions, builds friendships and ties and connects us to a particular culture or nation. For years, psychologists, linguists and biologists have been analyzing language and its structures and they been fascinated by an idea that there exists a universal innate basis of all languages which has been programmed into our brains.

According to Chomsky, humans have an innate potential for language. However evidence from Dunn et al. suggests that language is not completely specified in human minds from birth and that the influence of culture needs should be considered. Language is a constantly developing mechanism guided by pragmatic responses to cultural and historical needs. Humans across the world speak different languages which differ in their rules and complexity.

One of the possible explanations of structural similarities between languages across the world is that all languages attempt to communicate essentially the same semantic information. Perhaps future research could shed more light into this area.

Based on the presented evidence we can conclude that complete language innateness is impossible. There is an innate predisposition to learn language, such as brain localization and the complexity of human vocal tract. There is also some innateness to specific aspects of language such as syntax and phonetics, however infants are not born knowing a language, they are biologically equipped to learn it easily. Children are eager learners and they discover grammar rules during the course of growing up in a community. Children with French genes do not find French any easier than English, they simply learn the language they are exposed to. The role of the social environment, particularly infant’s connection with the caregivers and intention in infant communication cannot be ignored.


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Chomsky, N. (1980). Rules and representations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Dunn M., Greenhill S., Levinson S., Gray R. (2011). Evolved structure of language shows lineage-specific trends in word-order universals. Nature. Advance online publication. doi:10.1038/nature09923.

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Golestani, N., Price, C.J., Scott, S. K. (2011). Born with an ear for dialectsStructural plasticity in the ‘expert’ phonetician brain. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(11), 4213-4220.

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Kegl J., Senghas A., Coppola M. (1999). Creation through contact: Sign language emergence and sign language change in Nicaragua. Comparative Grammatical Change: The Intersection of Language Acquisition, Creole Genesis, and Diachronic Syntax, pp. 179–237. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Muller, R.-A. (1996) Innateness, autonomy, universalityNeurobiological approaches to language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 19, 611-675

Free Essays

Appropriate language use and Pedagogic purpose in EFL classrooms


Language is the only key that could open the doors of a particular culture when it comes to accessing its treasure trove of literature, history, and philosophy. It is impossible to know more about a people group’s way of life, if an outsider is unable to grasp the basic rudiments of their language. It would be impossible to understand how a certain society has been formed and how it is being sustained without a basic ability to use the language. It is the code breaker, an interpreter and investigative tool rolled into one. When it comes to the English language its importance goes beyond that of a code breaker and interpreter because it is the lingua franca of the modern age. The one who can speak the language does not only have access to the culture of the English speaking world; the person proficient in the said language also have the capability to create a massive network that spans all over the globe. This is due to the fact that English is spoken by many hundreds of millions of people. The person desiring to learn English must seek out an institution or a teacher that knows the importance of using appropriate language based on pedagogic purposes.

Before going any further it is important to point out that the existence of superb curriculum and a set of effective teaching techniques have no value unless a passionate and knowledgeable teacher comes along to pick up and use these tools. These are just tools and nothing more. It is the teacher with dedication and clear understanding of his or her purpose that can infuse energy and intelligence into an EFL classroom making it an effective place for learning a second or even third language.

It all begins with the realization that the teacher has the power to change the learning environment depending on the need. The teacher is not only the drill sergeant but also the coordinator, dictating the pace of the learning process while at the same time expertly using all the resources at his or her disposal to create a particular classroom dynamic that increases the capability of the students to learn and master a foreign language.

Although the teacher has mastered the English language to such an extent that he can teach it to others does not mean to say that the teacher is the centre of the EFL classroom universe. It is crucial to appreciate the importance of collaboration. It is always advantageous to work with other English teachers. But more importantly it is imperative to be kept abreast of new teaching practices. One of the most helpful is the idea that teachers learn to use appropriate language in EFL classrooms.

The key word here is context. The following are some of the definitions of context such as: “the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines meaning” (Walsh, 2011, p.24). The second definition focuses on the circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting (Walsh, year, p.24). And the third definition is states as the “parts of a piece of writing, speech, etc., that precede and follow a word or passage and contribute to its full meaning” (Walsh, 2011, p.24).

Appropriate Language Use in EFL classrooms

The most important skill to develop is the ability to use appropriate “teacher talk”, which is the speech that is comprehensible to the students but not oversimplified (Richards & Farrell, 2011, p.16). The assertion that it is imperative for EFL teachers to use appropriate language may be confusing at first glance. The objective of learning institution like EFL is to teach the English language to a non-native speaker. Naturally, the teachers would have to use the English language as a medium of instruction. Thus, it requires clarification when scholars pointed out the need to evaluate the language use in the classrooms.

Upon close examination the meaning of the phrase “appropriate language use” has to be interpreted in the context of EFL. It is the use of metalanguage to teach another language. In this case metalanguage can also be symbols and other expressions that the teachers can use with other teachers to help them evaluate the teaching style. The metalanguage can be seen as common language shared by teachers in EFL and this can be used to unify all the strategies and techniques. Problems are to be expected if teachers cannot find common ground and the “lack of an agreed metalanguage makes the processes of comparison and generalisation practically impossible, as the constructs used have different meanings” (Walsh, 2011, p.109).

A metalanguage can be developed using a research tool called the self-evaluation of teacher talk or SETT (Walsh, 2006, p.133). This is a framework that can be constructed by teachers or administrators to evaluate teacher talk or how they interact with their students (Housen & Pierrard, 2005, p.217). An example of SETT framework is the use of audio-recordings of what transpired within an EFL classroom. In other cases teachers uses video cameras to record the activities within the classroom. Aside from using the SETT framework, teachers must engage in reflective practices with other colleague or professionals in order to clearly evaluate teaching techniques and strategies in an EFL environment (Walsh, 2011, p.147).

Another way to discover the appropriate language for EFL is to carefully analyse feedback coming from students, fellow teachers, and collaborative teams. The students are the primary source of feedback. The teacher does something in the classroom and he or she immediately sees the reaction of the student. This comes in the form of a questions, a confused expression on their faces, or the excitement of learning as evidenced by their happy chatter. Feedback also comes from the results of exams and various tests to determine student progress.

Another way to benefit from feedback is to learn from the experience of other teachers. In the faculty room or in other formal meeting fellow teachers that are also part of an EFL program shares the challenges and the triumphs that they had faced in the classroom. There are also occasions when a more experienced EFL instructor gets to observe another while teaching and offers a feedback regarding on areas that requires improvement.

One expert pointed out the reason for doing collaborative work and he wrote that collaborators “may wish to create an environment in which learners, teacher and researchers are teaching and learning from each other in an equitable way (a trend which is enhanced by the growing interest in action research); or they may wish to experiment with ways of incorporating principles of learner-centredness into their programs” (Nunan, 1992, p.162).

One way to apply the principles inherent in collaboration is to create teaching teams. If ESL teachers opt to create one the best way to start is to choose what kind of team the collaborators needed. The following are some of the common types of teams: a) Team Leader Type; b) Associate Type; c) Master Teacher/Beginner Teacher; and d) Coordinated Team Type (Nunan, 1992, p.163).

In the Team Leader Type one of the team members has a higher status as compared to the others. Thus, the team leader may have a title given to her to formalise the formation of the team and he or she acts as the overseer as well as provide the general direction the team is headed. The Associate Type there is no in the team that has special status and any useful information generated by the team is the result of interaction among equals.

The Master Teacher / Beginner Teacher is like assigning a mentor to a new teacher. This is also an effective tool because it speeds up the learning process especially when it comes to finding out the appropriate language to be used within an EFL classroom. The only drawback to this type of collaboration is that it does not add value to the veteran teacher. The Coordinated Team Type does not focus on the creation of joint responsibility, instead it is the sharing of resources by two different teachers assigned to teach two different groups of students.

Aside from student feedbacks and the teaching tips that one can receive from fellow teachers, another way to analyse feedback is to develop a collaborative geared towards learning more about appropriate language use. Team work in this case provides a better chance of discovering flaws in teaching since it is a concerted effort. Efficiency in the learning process can be achieved making it easier to change teaching style to produce more satisfactory results.

Appropriate language used must be top priority because teachers may have a false understanding of the real marks of success. The teacher may come to believe that if he or she has completed all the lessons that must be taught in a given time frame then that is the mark of progress. The real measurement for success is the ability of students to communicate effectively and oral fluency in the English language. This must be the standard.

The failure of appropriate language use is based on the inability of teachers to evaluate their skills and the needs of their students. It is therefore crucial to have tools that would inform the teachers on the areas that they need to improve on. At the same time they need to know the weakness of their students. And finally they need to develop appropriate teaching methodologies to increase their efficiency.

Pedagogic Purposes

The use of the SETT framework is made more effective if the teachers are aware that there are four major modes of learning strategies that can be employed in the classroom and these are: a) managerial mode; b) materials mode; c) skills and systems mode; and d) classroom context mode (Walsh, 2003, p.3). The pedagogic goals of the managerial mode is to transmit information. This is achieved by having an extended teaching turn and the negative result is the absence of contribution from the students.

The materials mode’s pedagogic goal on the other hand is to elicit response to a particular material. This is achieved by the extensive use of display questions and the use of scaffolding. The skills and systems mode on the other hand focuses on the need to enable students to produce correct form. This is also achieved by allowing teacher to dominate the discourse. The classroom context mode has a different pedagogic goals than the other three because its emphasis is to enable the students to express themselves clearly and to establish a context. This is why the strategy used is extensive learner turns.

One of the factors that enable people to master a particular language or a local dialect is described as the “exposure to rich and contextually appropriate input” that resulted in the development of pragmatic competence in the said target language (Soler, 2008, p.45). This is what happens when a child learns the predominant language used in the home. The child observes the facial expressions and listens to the conversation made by adults. For instance, in a dinner table the father gestures to a plate of food and utters the request to pass the plate to him and the child takes note of the language used in that particular event. At the same time the child mimics the adults, speaking the same words and he or she receives feedback. In both instances one can see a contextually appropriate input that facilitates the learning process.

In the case of the person learning a foreign language within the four walls of a classroom, the same environment that produces contextually appropriate input is usually absent. As a result there is a need to recreate the same experience in a practical manner. Thus, there are many practitioners in the field of EFL that are happy about the use of audiovisual materials. In this way the EFL teacher can provide learners with “samples of appropriate language use in a variety of contexts” (Soler, 2008, p.245).

The problem is made more evident when a foreign language teacher attempts to teach English using conventional methods. One conventional approach is the use of a dictionary to learn new words. The weakness of this approach was summarised by a foreign language (FL) expert who wrote that a child learning his native tongue is “exposed to words in a variety of different contexts, and can so from a well-rounded concept of both the word’s meaning and its use … there are also many excellent human dictionaries in the form of parents and teachers, who are frequently asked to give explanations for new words” (Lochtman & Kappel, 2008, p.78). The same cannot be said in an EFL environment where the students usually know one person able to speak the language in a proficient manner. Thus, they can only interact with this person on a limited basis hampering the speed and efficiency of the learning process.

The teachers must be trained in the principles of interactional awareness (Cummins & Davidson, 2007, p.954). There is also the need to promote activities that would help teachers detect errors in language use (ibid). At the same time there is the need to encourage teachers to study the theories that supports their pedagogical practice (ibid). It is also important to look at the cultural context of the classroom because culture creates the frame for viewing interaction (Wolfram, Adger, & Christian, 1999, p.84).

Appropriate Language Use in Conjunction with EFL classroom techniques

Before going any further it is important to point out that English is both the focus of learning as well as the medium of instruction. This stems from the fact that “English is both the target of learning as well as the medium of teaching” (Richards & Farrell, 2011 p.16). It is therefore crucial that proficiency in this language is the top priority of the teachers. According to experts, “It will influence many crucial aspects of teaching such as the ability to provide good language models (Richards & Farrell, 2011, p.16). After teachers are aware of their need to improve proficiency the next step is to determine appropriate language usage in the EFL classroom.

The use of the SETT framework enables the teachers to detect errors and to improve the language use in the classroom. But it was also discovered by experts that the ability to develop appropriate language is not only based on what the teachers have learned from the feedback coming from colleagues or even experts in the field of second language acquisition. Interestingly the enhancement of teaching techniques when it comes to appropriate use of language can only be achieved if the teacher allows student participation. In this regard it is time to seriously consider the managerial mode of teaching and allow students to participate more in discussion.

It is therefore important to allow them to speak and to encourage the learning of the spoken language first before mastering written communication. Experts are saying that it was only recently that there was a renewed interest and awareness of the “importance of the study of spoken language and a realization that this study is essential for any real understanding of actual language use” (Cummins & Davidson, 2007, p.860).

Aside from these benefits the preference of student-teacher discourse as to written communication in learning a second language is based on the insight that each language has its own “preferred strategies for aural decoding” (Carter & Nunan, 2001, p.8). This is crucial in an EFL classroom when there is the realisation that the ability to speak fluently in English is one of the signs that a program has been a success. Just to clarify the following are the four fundamental properties of spoken language and underscores the importance of encouraging verbal interaction in the classroom and these are:

Phonological system: the phonemes used in a particular language;
Phonotactic rules: the sound sequences that a language allows to make up syllables;
Tone melodies: the characteristic variation in high, low, rising and falling tones to indicate lexical or discourse meanings;
The stress system; the way in which lexical stress is fixed within an utterance (Carter & Nunan, 2001, p.8).

One of the ways to apply insights about spoken language in the EFL classroom is to utilise the turn-taking technique. According to practitioners teachers and students can learn from observing people conversing and using turn-taking as a process of communication. This enhances the teachers’ ability to evaluate teacher-talk.

One of the most important developments with regards to the need for appropriate language use in EFL is the creation of a teaching methodology known as task-based language teaching or TBLT. This was derived from Communicative Language Teaching and the main purpose was to “bring ‘real-world’ contexts into the classroom, and it emphasises the use of language for completing tasks rather than as a focus for study” (Walsh, 2011, p.26).

By using TBLT, the students are able to interact with others and enhance the learning process when it comes to the acquisition of a foreign language. It simulates what happens in the real world where people use language not to study it but to accomplish a task. In the course of using TBLT techniques such as oral communicative tasks students are able to identify gaps in their knowledge as well as “notice connections between different linguistic features, find ways of saying something even when they do not have the most appropriate language, and so on” (Walsh, 2011, p.27).

A good example of a BLTB inspired communicative task is to assign students into groups and give them a situational problem that they need to solve. One of the best examples is the situational problem involving the crash of a light-aircraft in a remote island in the Pacific. The two passengers survived but they have to choose wisely what to bring with them as they leave the plane and walk towards the clearing or the shore. The items are: parachute; knife; flashlight; matches; mobile phone; mobile phone charger; notebook; pencil; shaving kit; make-up kit; one apple; cigarettes; a bottle of lotion; airplane radio; and a bottle of water. The instructions further states that they can only bring five items with them.

The items are words that they encounter in their readings or words commonly used in the real-world conversation and by engaging themselves in this problem solving exercise they go beyond mere memorisation of the words and learning the definition. Their minds are engaged in a deeper level and therefore learning is enhanced in a manner that can never be duplicated in a simple classroom type discourse.

It is also important to provide opportunities for students “for interactive and collaborative uses of language among learners” (Richards & Farrell, 2011, p.16). According to one practitioner in the field of intercultural language use a communicative methodology is to “acquire the necessary skills to communicate in socially and culturally appropriate ways, and, in the learning process, focus should be placed on functions, role playing and the real situations, among other aspects” (Soler, 2008, p.59). “Play has been noted as valuable in helping pupils’ development of oracy and literacy skills … the normal practice during structured play sessions was to encourage pupils to respond to their experiences using the language at their disposal at the time” (Beaumont & O’Brien, 2000, p.16).

An example of structured play is when students are told to participate in a make-believe game where they are supposed to buy fruits and vegetables from a shopkeeper. Thus, instead of just teaching them about fruits and vegetables and showing these items in visual presentation format, the students are now able to exercise the ability to use the language in a practical matter. It can also be argued that the structured play enables them to participate in manner that is more intense as compared to sitting back and merely listening to the teachers speak. In this type of scenario the students learn more than just the words but also the feel of the language when spoken in a natural setting.

One of the foundational principles is the realisation that “language is based on and is an extension of spoken language” thus it must be the starting point in the study of language (Cummins & Davidson, 2007, p.859). However, in the latter part of the 20th century teachers did not pay careful attention on developing training strategies to teach language from a verbal standpoint. The reason for neglect was that “spoken language was seen as disorganised, ungrammatical, and formless and written language as highly structured and organised” (Cummins & Davidson, 2007, p.860). This is the preferable course of action as one keeps in mind that in an EFL environment “there are only a few proficient speakers of English and there is no constant verbal interaction as in a native-speaking environment” (Lochtman & Kappel, 2008, p.78).


The acquisition of a second language hinges on different factors. The effectiveness of the teaching strategy used and the speed of acquisition depend on the proficiency of the teacher when it comes to using the English language as the medium of communication. It is also affected by the classroom environment and the cultural setting. But the most crucial factor is the appropriate use of language in order to facilitate learning.

It has been discovered that the inappropriate use of language is based on the fact that teachers in an EFL classroom sometimes treat their students as if they are native speakers. A native speaker has a different mode of learning English because they have access to parents, teachers, and other people that are proficient in the English language. In the case of students studying English in a foreign land there is only one person that is proficient in the English language and he or she happens to be the teacher. The teacher therefore has to be sensitive to this fact.

It is therefore important that the teacher be sensitive to the way he or she teaches especially when it comes to the appropriate use of language. The detection of errors and the measure of effectiveness can be achieved by using the SETT framework. This tool enables the teacher to evaluate “teacher-talk” by using strategies and methods that capture feedback and then evaluate the same. The use of audio recording devices and even videotape is an important took for this particular purpose.

The use of the SETT framework can be made more effective if the teacher is aware of the four modes of learning strategies used in the EFL. By doing so the teacher would discover that the managerial mode is a problematic approach because it limits the capability of the teacher to evaluate “teacher-talk” and at the same time limits the ability of the teacher to determine the feedback coming from the students. This is based on the fact that the managerial mode encourages teacher to dominate the classroom discourse.

The study of the four modes of teaching would reveal that the classroom context mode is the best way to promote learning. In this mode the students are allowed to participate. In this method of teaching the teacher enables the student to express themselves more effectively. At the same time it promotes oral fluency. If one thinks about it this is the main goal of teaching English to foreigners and it is to make them more fluent in the English language.

Another interesting discovery in the discussion regarding the appropriate use of language is that the teacher cannot develop the correct materials or use the appropriate teaching method if the teacher does not enable collaboration between students and teachers and among themselves. It is easy to understand why students must be given time to express themselves in the classroom setting but it is another to consciously develop a strategy to allow them to speak by taking turns.

The strategy of allowing them to speak in turns provides the ability to learn the language in a deeper way. If the students are merely allowed to speak on their own then there are nuances of the language that they are unable to detect and appreciate. But when they are allowed to talk with fellow students they uncover something that the teachers may not be able to discuss in class.

Experts pointed out the fact that when students began to collaborate and discuss in the English language they begin pinpoint gaps in their knowledge. In the managerial mode of teaching and even in the materials mode of teaching the students are focused on the teacher and the materials. The goal is to mimic the teachers and at the same they are conscious of being able to copy the forms of the language displayed. As a result students become experts in mimicry such as copying the sounds made by the teacher or the ability to copy the letters of the English alphabet and yet when it comes to the things that really matter they fail.

Students must not only be able to recite properly but they also have to fully understand the words that they are saying. They must not only be aware of the vague definition of the words that they are saying but also the different meanings of a word in different contexts. Experts agree that this can be done in a conversation. It is therefore crucial that teachers promote the spoken language as well as the written forms of communication.

One of the most effective means to promote learning is to use situational problems that enable students among themselves. This is not just an ordinary discussion but structured interaction that allows them to focus on common words and then provide them the opportunity to use these words in a “real-world” context. There is a different feel when students discuss a scenario using the target words as opposed to simply reciting these words as the teacher flashed them in a projector or when these items are displayed in a visual presentation.

By observing the students in collaborative exercises and by listening to feedback coming from different sources, the teacher identifies weaknesses in the teaching methodology. The teacher can then proceed to make adjustments and then repeats the process of evaluation. The goal is to improve the ability of the students to express themselves and to promote oral fluency. The students must be able to identify the meanings of the words in different contexts and use the words in a “real-world” setting. The conventional methodologies used in the past must be revised. The focus on materials and the way teachers dominate classroom discussion has been proven ineffective.


It is imperative that teachers are well aware of appropriate language use. They must realise that simply sticking to a plan does not produce students that are proficient in the English language. They must use all the available tools in order to evaluate “teacher-talk” and by doing so update their teaching techniques and strategies. Interestingly, the ability of the teacher to improve his or her skills in the use of appropriate language in an EFL environment is also dependent on the collaboration of teacher and students. Thus, it is also crucial that teacher allow students to speak in class and to interact with fellow students. It is only through these strategies that teachers are able to determine which areas they are deficient and then proceed to correct their errors.


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Education. London: Trentham Books Ltd.

Carter, R. (1995). Keywords in Language and Literacy. London: Routledge.

Carter, R. & D. Nunan. (2001). The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cummins, J. & C. Davison. (2007). International Handbook of English Language

Teaching. Part 1. UK: Springer Science.

Housen, A. & M. Pierrard. (2005). Investigations in Instructed Second Language

Acquisition. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Lochtman, K. & J. Kappel. (2008). The World a Global Village: Intercultural

Competence in English Foreign Language Teaching. Brussels: VUBPress.

Nunan, D. (1992). Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching. Cambridge:

University of Cambridge Press.

Richards, J. & T. Farrell. (2011). Practice Teaching: A Reflective Approach.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Soler, E. (2008). Intercultural Language Use and Language Learning. UK: Springer Science.

Walsh, S. (2003). Developing Interactional Awareness in the L2 Classroom.

Journal of Language Awareness, 12(2), 124-142.

Walsh, S. (2006). Investigating Classroom Discourse. Oxford: Routledge.

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Communities. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Free Essays

Do fathers use the same features of child-language as mothers and how does parental usage of CDS compare



Child-directed speech (CDS) has been central to research ever since Noam Chomsky declared it to be a ‘degenerate’, ‘deficient’, ‘impoverished’ form, (Fletcher & MacWhinney, 1995) stating children could not learn the rules of a language by hearing such complex input. Other studies have shown that adult input is by no means as complex as Chomskyan theories had assumed. Such studies have observed that adult-child interaction is somewhat different from adult-adult interaction, giving rise to the finding that adults generally adapt their speech when talking to children, which is termed ‘CDS’ or ‘motherese’ as it is otherwise known. Some common features have been attributed to this unique speech register. These features are said to include shorter sentences, clearly segmented slower speech, phonologically simplified utterances, restricted vocabulary, exaggerated prosody, repetitions and expansions. The language used is said to be constrained to ‘the here and now’ and related to the child’s focus of attention and ongoing activity (Harley, 2008), which all in all result in effective communication between parents and their children and also contribute to the speed and ease of a child’s language acquisition (Snow 1972).


As child-directed speech is often termed ‘motherese’ it gives a misleading impression that fathers have a negligible impact upon child language development. Hence, why the verbal environment provided by the father has been largely ignored until recent years. However, the ever-changing family roles and changes in typical male-female stereotypes in western society have influenced a change in the nature of parenting, which has given rise to the introduction of research into paternal input to children. The late twentieth century has seen an increase in fathers adopting the primary caregiver role, which has led to the popularity of ‘stay-at-home dads’. While tending to the immediate needs of children was traditionally considered to be a female responsibility, nowadays that is not the case as it is becoming increasingly popular for mothers to be in employment. Therefore, a number of studies since the 1970’s have discovered fathers as well as mothers produce the typical modifications of CDS in their speech to children, hence the suggestion that males provide an equally large facilitation to child language development as females (Berko-Gleason 1975). The scope of the literature in this area is somewhat limited, however research has indicated that the most important features of CDS are maintained by paternal input; simplicity, well-formedness, repetition and immediacy, (Berko-Gleason 1975) which has given rise to the newly-coined term ‘fatherese’. Nevertheless, there is an inconsistency in the findings of the studies in this domain.


The research question central to this dissertation is do fathers use the same features of child-language as mothers and how does parental usage of CDS compare. The focus will consider the parental input to two language-learning siblings, at different stages of language development.


Following this introduction, a literature review addresses the findings of numerous existing studies in the field of gender-specific child-directed speech. The methodology section explains how this investigation was carried out, including a description of the subjects observed, the methods of data capture, transcription and the variables used for analysis, followed by a description of the results gathered in the investigation and a discussion of the findings and problems encountered throughout the study. To conclude the investigation, the outcome of the study will be related back to the review of literature in order to address how the findings fit in with what is already known in the field of gender-specific CDS.



The research of Jean Berko-Gleason (1975) was the first in the area of CDS to consider a paternal contribution. She conducted a study to determine whether the defined features of CDS were limited to the speech of mothers or if they could be characterised as a function of adult language to children. Before the conduction of the study it was of question whether there was such a thing as men’s speech to children at all, as a previous study made a bizarre statement that men only spend an average of 37.7 seconds per day engaged in speech interaction with their children (Berko-Gleason 1975). Berko-Gleason overruled this finding stating fathers do talk to their children, but her research was not solely orientated around paternal input. She discussed unpublished studies into the speech of mothers and fathers in interactions in their home settings and also reported upon studies of interactions in a day-care setting, exploring more broadly the speech of ‘non-mothers’. When addressing children in a home setting, the research indicated that there are some similarities in the speech styles of male and female adults, but it also asserts that differences arise due to the father’s role. It was asserted that fathers perform many of the characteristics attributed to “motherese” such as restraining their speech to the ‘hear and now’, and considerably simplifying the length of their speech, as fathers were found to use a similar mean length of utterance (MLU) to mothers. However, it is asserted that mothers are more sensitive to their child’s ages in families of more than one child, stating they directed less complex utterances to their younger children and more complex utterances to the older of the siblings (Berko-Gleason 1975). An instance where a father addressed the younger of his children with a more complex utterance is mentioned, suggesting a lack of sensitivity on paternal behalf. The study concerned also distinguished between the types of sentences used by each of the parents, generalising in a qualitative sense that fathers use more direct imperatives and produced more threats as well as rarer vocabulary. This more frequent use of rare vocabulary could also suggestively contribute to the judgement that fathers are less sensitive than mothers. The research gathered in the interactions of day-care teachers further supported the findings regarding sensitivity, as the data observed an unexpected lexical usage by a male teacher towards a three year old. This suggests that weaker sensitivity is characteristic of ‘male’ language towards children as appose to the more constricted ‘father’ language. Berko-Gleason asserts that even though “fathers are not as well tuned-in to their children as mothers are in the traditional family situation: they do not have to learn to attend to subtle signals from the child, and frequently have no penalty to pay for any lack of attention…there are probably serious and far-reaching effects that result from the fact” (1975; 293). She also examined a study of gender-specific CDS in a storytelling situation, in which fathers were said to concentrate on the activity of telling a story rather than using the story to facilitate interaction with the child, which was characteristic behaviour of mothers. The mothers in this study were reported to ask a lot of questions to ensure their child fully understood the activity. Berko-Gleason maintained that “the children had to exert themselves more for the fathers, and try harder to make themselves both heard and understood. In this way, fathers can be seen as a bridge to the outside world, leading the child to change his or her language in order to be understood” (1975; 293). This gave rise to the ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ proposed by Berko-Gleason; (Dato 1975; 294) maintaining that speaking to fathers who are less sensitive than mothers in terms of language use, provides children with the linguistic skills required for talking to strangers and people in more abstract contexts.

Contextually speaking, Berko-Gleason notes that “the fathers’ language clearly demarked their role within a family: a father playing with his small son might break off the game to send the child to his mother to have his diaper changed” (Dato 1975: 291).


Similar to the Bridge Hypothesis in terms of sensitivity is what is known as the ‘Differential Experience Hypothesis’, (McLaughlin, White, McDevitt & Raskin 1983, Lewis & Gregory 1987) which is theorised on the basis of findings that mothers provide more linguistic support for their children due to the fact they are more attuned to the child’s needs and abilities. Fathers, on the other hand, are seen to be less sensitive to children’s’ capabilities, which sees them being more linguistically demanding than mothers. This hypothesis maintains that fathers instigate a greater performance from children due to their lack of sensitivity. However it does not insinuate that fathers are better language facilitators than mothers, on the contrary, that the functions of each of the speech styles give equal contributions to child language development, in the sense that they offer experiences of a differing nature.

In sum of the above hypotheses, mothers and fathers are suggested to engage in different kinds of interactions with their children. It is not to be believed that one of these speech styles is in any way superior to the other, they are viewed in a complementary manner to one another and interpreted to manifest and reflect each of the parental roles (Chanu & Marcos 1994).

“The mother’s specific role is to provide a feeling of security by avoiding situations where the child’s established acquisitions would be challenged, while still stimulating the child. The father’s specific role is to prompt the child to attain higher levels of success, even if it means momentarily destabilising the child” (Chanu & Marcos 1994; 3).

Due to these observed differences in parental speech behaviour in terms of CDS, the communicative behaviour of children should also be expected to differ when conversing with mothers and fathers.


Many studies (Snow 1972, Berko-Gleason 1975, Sokolov 1993) have found that mothers seem to ‘fine-tune’ their speech when talking to young children. Cross (1977) proposed the ‘Fine-Tuning hypothesis’ based on correlations between the measures of maternal input structure and child competence. It has been theorised that mothers adjust the length and complexity of their utterances in line with the increase in their child’s mastery of linguistic competence. This implies that parent’s decrease their use of CDS as their child’s linguistic ability develops. This is observable in terms of mean length of utterance (MLU) as it is expected that parental growth in the use of word classes and word order will occur in accordance with the growth of child comprehension and production levels. Cross observed that individual differences were found to reflect the speech styles of mothers in some cases; however, statements have been made that a mother more closely ‘fine-tunes’ her language to the child than any other family member. It is a possible point of analysis in this study to test these statements in order to see how the MLU of mothers and fathers compare.

It has been noted that mothers ‘fine-tune’ their speech to young children in more ways than one. As well as lexical and structural adjustments, prosodic adjustments are also said to be found. Prosodic fine-tuning is said to be marked by higher pitch and exaggerated intonational patterns which appeal to infants’ attention patterns (Fletcher & MacWhinney, 1995). “Manipulation of these prosodic characteristics is very high at precisely the age when infants are most responsive and by age five children receive almost no prosodic adjustments” (Fletcher & MacWhinney 1995, p.182). Such adjustments are said to be tuned to the child’s responsiveness and attentiveness whereas phonological and syntactic adjustments are tuned to the child’s production and comprehension levels respectively. Phonetics are said to be adjusted from the one-word stage onwards and include enhanced clarity of vowels and full production of often-reduced consonants. (Fletcher & MacWhinney, 1995).


In terms of analysing how much mothers and fathers speak to their young children in mean number of utterances, there is a general agreement that mothers speak more than fathers on the whole (Golinkoff & Ames 1979, Rondal 1980, Davidson & Snow 1996, Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans 2006). However, McLaughlin et al (1983) and Lewis and Gregory (1987) found no significance in mean number of utterances.

Golinkoff and Ames (1979) found situation to have a bearing on conversational turns. They recorded parents in dyadic and triadic situations, reporting fathers to produce half as many utterances and take fewer conversational turns in a free-play situation with the mother present. However, in a dyadic play situation, mothers and fathers were reported to produce the same number of utterances and take the same number of turns. McLaughlin et al (1983) found parents to take relatively equal conversational turns while Rondal (1980) proposed that mothers take more turns.


The complexity of the parents’ sentences can be measured by making comparisons between their mean length of utterance (MLU) and number of verbs per utterance. However, there is large differentiation in the results regarding their MLU. Giattino and Hogan (1975) carried out the first published study in the field of ‘fatherese’. They provided a father-only speech analysis with which they made comparisons to previously reported investigations of mother-child data of the same nature. For the means of comparison for MLU, they recorded the father in adult-adult interaction, in which his MLU was recorded as 9.7 words. In his interaction with the child, his MLU was recorded as 5.2 words which was found to be closely correlated to the child’s MLU of 4.5 words. This evidence supports the finding that the father was aware of the child’s level of comprehension, which in turn influenced his language as he directed considerably shorter sentences to her than he did in adult-adult conversation. Discrepancies occurred in the conflicting results regarding MLU. Some studies found that mothers and fathers have similar MLU (Golinkoff & Ames 1979, Lewis & Gregory 1987, Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans 2006) while other studies found that mothers produce a significantly longer MLU (McLaughlin et al 1983, Davidson & Snow 1996). Rondal (1980) supported the ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ and the ‘Differential Experience Hypothesis’ with the finding that although fathers’ speech was found to be shorter in length, the longest utterance in the study was also addressed by a father, portraying the lack of sensitivity central to the hypotheses. McLaughlin et al (1983) also reported that although the utterances spoken by mothers were significantly longer, they were more ‘well-tuned’ into the child’s abilities, also in support of the hypotheses.

Lewis and Gregory (1987) and Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans (2005) are in agreement that fathers use fewer verbs per utterance. This is troublesome evidence as this variable is said to contribute towards complexity as it is evidence of low sensitivity, meaning it shows conflict with the ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ that fathers are less sensitive than mothers.

In the means of vocabulary, Davidson and Snow (1996) asserted that mothers talked more complexly, in that they used more low frequency words. They also stated that children spoke more complexly themselves in maternal dyads, showing a greater use of low-frequency vocabulary than in paternal dyads. Previous studies, the ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ and the ‘Differential Experience Hypothesis’ all undertake the belief that fathers create a more linguistically challenging environment for the child, however this study has shown that this is not always the case as it has proven an instance where mothers have provided a more sophisticated input than fathers. It was assumed that the mothers’ linguistically challenging behaviour in this study had prevailed over the stereotypically female behaviour of ‘fine-tuning’. This was attributed to the mothers’ advanced scholarly background as they were said to be as highly educated as the fathers (Davidson & Snow 1996).

Lexically speaking, there is said to be little difference in the speech of mothers and fathers measured by the type token ratio (TTR) (McLaughlin, Schutz and White 1980, Ratner 1988, Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans 2006). Rondal (1980) found the speech of fathers to be more diverse, and Ratner (1988) in a more detailed analysis of vocabulary, found fathers to be more lexically demanding through their frequent use of rare nominal words and infrequent use of common nouns. Both of these findings are in support of Berko-Gleason’s theory that the linguistic style of fathers provides children with a ‘bridge to the outside world’.

Giattino and Hogan (1975) stated that declaratives were used in 35% of the corpus, interrogatives 34%, exclamatory sentences 9% and imperatives 6%. Giattino and Hogan (1975) and Golinkoff and Ames (1979) are in agreement that mothers and fathers use these sentence types to similar proportions.

Further conflicting evidence has been found in the area of questions. Some studies found that mothers and fathers ask the same number of questions, (Davidson & Snow 1996, Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans 2006) whereas other studies found that mothers ask more questions, (Lewis & Gregory 1987) although other studies concluded that fathers ask more questions (McLaughlin et al 1983). Such contradictory findings are difficult to deduce an inference from. The ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ maintains that fathers are more challenging interlocutors than mothers, therefore in the means of interrogatives it is to be expected that fathers ask more wh-questions (questions that require a more elaborate response) than yes/no questions (questions that require the child to answer with a one-word answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’). Several studies (Giattino & Hogan 1975, McLaughlin et al 1983) support this finding, however there are studies opposing this evidence (Lewis & Gregory 1987, Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans 2006). Wh-questions are said to be a challenge for children as they require the child to construct a lexical response rather than repeat the parent’s structure or simply give a non-verbal response (Berko-Gleason 1975). In terms of question types, Golinkoff and Ames (1979) and McLaughlin et al (1983) agreed that yes/no questions are asked more frequently overall than wh-questions. This makes sense in the respects that mothers speak more than fathers and mothers are more inclined to ask yes/no rather than wh-questions.

“Many researchers have studied ‘language-teaching’ aspects of parental speech. These include explicit educative behaviours such as corrections, expansions and self repetitions. Although all parental communicative behaviours are ‘educative’, considering a child can learn by observation and imitation, these specific behaviours manifest the parents’ intentional effort to teach their child” (Chanu & Marcos 1994; 7).

Some research has concluded that fathers use repetitions more frequently than mothers (McLaughlin et al 1983, Lewis & Gregory 1987) while others have concluded the reverse (Ratner 1988). Giattino and Hogan (1975) found that repetitions made up 9% of their corpus. These were said to always be repetitions of the child’s preceding utterance, not self-repetitions. When compared to a set of previously recorded female-child data, a difference was realised in the respect that mothers’ repetitions are repetitions of themselves. The conflicting findings of Golinkoff and Ames (1979) recorded that both genders use repetitions to the same frequency, and that when they occur they are always repetitions of themselves not their children. They stated repetitions are more likely to be found when requesting action rather than giving information. Giattino and Hogan (1975) found very few instances where the father used corrections and Rondal (1980) found that mothers correct their children more than fathers. While comparing their data to data from previous investigations, Giattino and Hogan (1975) found that fathers rarely used grammatically incomplete sentences where as mothers are far more likely to do so. They found very few instances where completion sentences were used and said that expansions made up a mere 0.5% of the corpus whereas they contributed 30% to the previously conducted investigation of female CDS. The explanation attributed to the low frequency of expansions in the male corpus regarded the child’s production level. As the child was considered to be linguistically fluent, the need for the father to expand her utterances was eliminated.


Berko-Gleason (1975) found trends in the studies he examined, in that fathers produce more requests for clarification. This finding was later supported by Rondal (1980). This suggests that fathers do not understand their children as well as mothers, possibly a consequence of fathers who assume secondary caregiver position due to their employment status.

Research which has focussed on directives separates imperatives; the most direct form of directives, from interrogatives; an indirect form.

“The use of more direct or indirect forms of directives challenges the child’s comprehension level to differing degrees. When a parent uses a direct form (‘be quiet’) it is much easier to understand the communicative intention than when a parent uses an indirect form (‘can we reduce the noise level in here?’)” (Chanu & Marcos 1994; 8).

In agreement with Berko-Gleason (1975), several studies found that fathers use more direct imperatives than mothers (Rondal 1980, McLaughlin et al 1980, McLaughlin et al 1983). Interestingly, McLaughlin et al (1980) found that fathers directed more imperatives at their sons than their daughters. Berko-Gleason attributes the finding that fathers use more direct imperatives to the fact that fathers cast themselves into the role of disciplinarian in the home setting, and he states the finding that fathers direct more imperatives to their sons than their daughters “gives the impression that in our society males become accustomed early on to taking orders, and, if their fathers provide role models, to giving them” (1975; 294). McLaughlin et al (1980) found mothers use more indirectly controlling language whereas fathers use more directly controlling language. Berko-Gleason proposes that “mothers tend to couch their imperative intent in question form” (1975; 295) which conflicts with research that has evidence that fathers ask more questions overall. Golinkoff and Ames (1979) found that the situation has a bearing on parental use of directives as the amount found in dyadic situations increased from the amount used in triadic situations regardless of the gender of the parent. Parents were said to fall into a directive mode in dyadic situations.


The examination of the literature in the area of caregiver input shows that there are a number of similarities and differences between mothers’ and fathers’ speech. Parental interactive styles in dyadic behaviours have been the primary focus of research, and it has been proven, despite the many discrepancies in the research, that both parents play an important effective role in child language development. Berko-Gleason asserts that “when men occupy a nurturant role they become increasingly sensitive to the needs and intentions of the child” (1975; 296), suggesting that fathers who adopt the primary caregiver role because their female partners are in employment, are more sensitive to their children’s needs, assumingly so because they spend more time with them. The ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ and the ‘Differential Experience Hypothesis’ have been theorised based on the notion of sensitivity, proposing that mothers are more sensitive of a child’s needs as they are found to ‘scaffold’ children’s utterances more often. Fathers on the other hand, are seen as more insensitive interlocutors in comparison, as they are generally found to provide children with a bigger linguistic challenge.

Generalisations have been made in summary of the variables recorded by previous studies. It has been found that mothers address more speech to their young children than fathers, both in terms of mean number of utterances and conversational turns, asserting that mothers are more talkative. Dependant on context, it has been found that fathers are capable of producing the same number of utterances and turns in dyadic situations with a child, however there is consistency in the results in the fact that it has never been proven for fathers to speak more than mothers, neither in terms of mean number of utterances nor conversational turns, withholding the hypotheses mentioned above in the respect that fathers provide the child with a more challenging conversational partner as a result of not making themselves as linguistically dependable as mothers. Mothers seem to take more responsibility for sustaining a conversation through their more frequent vocalisations.

Differences between mothers and fathers have appeared in a number of areas of research, including vocabulary and use of directives. The vocabulary of fathers is said to be more diverse and lexically demanding which contributes to the challenging linguistic behaviour fathers demonstrate towards children. Fathers are said to direct more imperatives at children than mothers, and fathers are said to direct more imperatives to their sons than their daughters. This distinction between the behaviour directed at children is attributed in relation to the socialisation of gender as males in society are said to need to become accustomed to giving and taking orders. Fathers are more likely to use an imperative whereas mothers are said to frame their directives in interrogative form. Fathers are said to engage in such usage because they adopt the role of disciplinarian.

Research shows that mothers and fathers use sentence types to relatively the same proportions, using declarative and interrogative sentences most frequently. It is commonly postulated that when repetitions occur in parental input, fathers are more likely to repeat their child’s preceding utterance whereas mothers are more likely to repeat themselves. It is generalised that mothers make more corrections to their children’s speech than fathers and mothers are significantly more probable to produce grammatically incomplete utterances. The speech of mothers is also expected to contain more expansions: a notable contributor in aiding the ‘scaffolding’ of children’s utterances, therefore showing support for the ‘Bridge Hypothesis’.

Inconsistencies have occurred across numerous variables that have been tested, including questions and MLU. Given the somewhat sceptical findings of previous studies in the area, the aim of this study is to provide a clearer insight through my own investigation of gender-specific CDS, which will hopefully shed light on the discrepancies that have occurred. Previous research has shown that findings between parental input can largely differ based on the situation they occur in (dyadic or triadic) and the context in which the interaction is held (free-play or structured play), therefore these factors will remain constant in this study. The nucleus of this analysis is the difference in gender-specific CDS styles. A mother and father each in dyadic interactions with a child of approximately two years old will be recorded and then the study will be extended in order to observe the same parents in a dyadic interaction with an older sibling. Few studies in the existing research have explored the nature of gender-specific CDS in this way; however Broen (1972) found that when mothers spoke to younger in comparison to older children they used a lower rate, fewer disfluencies, and smaller type-token ratios. They also used smaller vocabularies, but they repeated their utterances more frequently (Giattino & Hogan 1975). Davidson and Snow (1996) suggest that fathers become better conversational partners as children get older. This is an area for examination in this study.

Reviewing the variables of a number of previous investigations in order to highlight comparisons and discrepancies in their findings regarding parental speech styles has allowed me to establish a set of variables for analysis in my own investigation. Since very few conclusive results have been established by previous studies, my analysis will provide a clearer explanation to these somewhat ambiguous generalisations.

Due to the inconsistent results of previous studies, the following research questions will be attempted:

Do fathers use the same features of CDS as mothers
How, if at all, do the parental speech styles differ

and due to the lack of information regarding the differences in parental speech styles in families with more than one language-learning child, the following question will be aimed at:

Do parents direct the same linguistic behaviour towards an older and younger sibling

In line with the ‘Fine-Tuning’ hypothesis, it is expected to find that parents ‘fine-tune’ their speech more towards the younger of the siblings. Prosodic features are expected to become seldom used to the older of the siblings and it can also be hypothesised that the parent’s MLU will increase with the older child. Since the ‘Bridge Hypothesis’ and ‘Differential Experience Hypothesis’ entail that mothers are more sensitive interlocutors, my experimental hypothesis is that mothers will ‘fine-tune’ their speech more than fathers. If this is the case, it will entail the mother having a MLU score lower than the father’s and closer to the MLU of her children. The null hypothesis is identifiable if the mother and father do not produce significantly different measures of ‘fine-tuning’ or MLU. It is important to note that individual differences may arise in the study and have a considerable bearing on the results, e.g. culture, socioeconomic class or parent’s level of education.


The purpose of this study was to analyse the speech of a male and female parent in dyadic interactions with their language-learning children, in order to produce a cross-sectional analysis which will lead to answering the central question of whether fathers as well as mothers use the features of CDS. The following general observation questions were considered:

Do fathers use the same features of CDS as mothers
How, if at all, do the parental speech styles differ
Do parents direct the same linguistic behaviour towards an older and younger sibling


Prior to the actual recordings, I conducted a small preliminary investigation using only two of the subjects (the mother and child O) in order to test whether the ‘Observer’s Paradox’ would arise. I wanted to be present for the recording; however, as a consequence of this child Y was not responsive to her mother’s speech. I vacated the room, leaving the mother to start the recording after my departure. In my absence the mother described child O’s language as typical entailing that my presence gave rise to the ‘Observer’s Paradox’. I therefore ensured that only the subjects involved in any one interaction were in the play-room at the time of the recording in order to eliminate the effects of the ‘Observer’s Paradox’ altering the authenticity of my main study recordings. I attempted a preliminary transcription exercise from the results of my pilot study, in which I was exposed to the problems associated with the calculation of mean length of utterance (MLU). I carried out online research in order to obtain a protocol for such calculations (see variables below) and followed this protocol when transcribing the data.


There were four subjects in the main study: the mother, the father, the older child who I will refer to as child O and the younger child who I will refer to as child Y. At the time of the recording, child Y was 1;10 and child O was 4;4. I chose the children in my investigation not to be of similar ages so that they were not at similar stages of language development. Child Y was at the one-word stage, occasionally using two-word utterances and child O was at the grammatical stage, producing utterances relatively adult-like. Both of the parents in the study were of similar ages, there was an eighteen month age gap between them. In order to make accurate comparisons with the existing results identified in the literature review section, I ensured I maintained the social class variable of the majority of those studies by recording a family representative of middle class. In terms of occupation, the mother is a part-time psychiatric consultant and the father is a full-time college lecturer, therefore both parents are university-educated. In the means of family structure, I ensured that the parents in the family I observed were the biological parents of both children, i.e. to ensure that neither child O nor child Y were step children to either parent through divorce and remarriage as atypical linguistic behaviour may be expected from a non-parent towards a child and vice versa.


The speech of the family was recorded on a digital voice recorder. All recording was done during periods of free-play and all interactions took place in the family play-room, as this is the area where the subjects engage in free-play on a daily basis. I obtained four recordings in total: the mother and father both in a dyadic interaction with each child. Each separate recording consisted of at least twenty minutes of speech. The lengths of the recordings slightly differed in total as the children terminated their play sessions at different times; however, I extracted exactly fifteen minutes from each recording for analysis. I anticipated that the adult subjects may have been inhibited to behave differently with anyone other than the subjects in the room; therefore the parents began the recording after I vacated the room. The inherent problem in such a recording is the subjects’ awareness of the recorder as the investigation had to be carried out obtrusively. This could have had a possible bearing on the naturalistic nature of the data; however none of the subjects seemed to be concerned that they were being recorded. In order to eliminate the possibility of the presence of the recorder having a bearing on my results, I overlooked the first two minutes of each recording as literature advises that most people forget about the recording as they engage in activities (Wray & Bloomer 2006). Neither of the children were unfamiliar to the tape recorder as they had been recorded by their father in this way previously. The subjects were not given any special instructions in the means of expected behaviour and they were encouraged to ignore the presence of the tape recorder. Throughout the session the parents and children engaged in spontaneous play: in activities such as a scrabble board-game, an ‘etch-sketch’ drawing toy, a wooden shapes toy, a plastic utensils game, an ‘aqua beads’ shape game, a ‘guess-who’ game, playing with a ball, building blocks and making a cup of tea. After the recording I gave the adult subjects a self-completion questionnaire (see appendix 2). Questionnaires are advantageous in the fact that they are efficient to administer, they eliminate interviewer effects and they are convenient for the respondents to complete. In order to eliminate respondent fatigue, I limited the questionnaire to eight questions and ensured that they were simple and unambiguous. I asked two open questions in order to obtain qualitative data.


After obtaining the four separate recordings of conversational data, I made a copy of the original recordings. I discarded the first two minutes of each recording before analysis, in order to eliminate possible effects caused by the ‘Observer’s Paradox’. I decided to transcribe exactly fifteen minutes of each recording in order to ensure a fair test overall. I orthographically transcribed the data so that the speech could be represented in order to be analysed structurally and accurately (see appendix 1). Using the set of variables below, I then analysed the data.


In order to answer the observation questions mentioned above, the following variables were measured:

Communicative Turn (CT) this is analysed as everything a speaker says before the next speaker begins. This could be one word, one sentence or several sentences.
Total number of utterance – number of utterances produced.
Mean length of utterance (MLU) – measured by the total number of morphemes divided by the total number of utterances in the dyad. An utterance is a word or a string of words identified by a pause, grammatical completeness (Golinkoff and Ames 1979) or other indication of new thought.

When counting MLU the following are counted as a single morpheme:

a) -s plural marker e.g. letter-s

b) -ed past tense marker e.g. finish-ed

c)-ing present participle marker e.g. smil-ing

d)-s 3rd person regular tense marker e.g. plays-s

e) Possessive -‘s marker e.g. daddy’s bike

f) Compound words e.g. teapot

g) Proper names e.g. Hazel

h) Irregular past tense verbs e.g. went

i) Irregular plurals e.g. children

j) Diminutives e.g. horsy

k)Catenatives e.g. wanna

l) Contractions e.g. let’s, don’t and won’t (but the following contractions are counted as two morphemes e.g. she’s, he’ll, they’re, what’s, she’d, we’ve, can’t, aren’t)

m)Reduplications e.g. daddy daddy daddy are counted as one morpheme unless the repetition is for emphasis (Speech Therapy Information and Resources 2009-2010).

n) Fillers e.g. mm, ah, oh are not counted as a morpheme

Sentence types

Declarative sentence – (including one-word declaratives) used to make a statement.

Interrogative sentence – used to ask a question.

Wh-questions – questions that employ the use of: what, when, where, why, who, whose, which or how.
Yes/no questions – questions that require a yes or no answer from the hearer.
Intonation questions – questions marked by a rise in intonation.
Tag questions – a question attached to the end of a statement, usually seeking confirmation.

Imperative sentence – used to give command, request or give instructions of some kind – orders, warnings advice etc.

Exclamatory sentence – emphatic sentences used to express strong emotion.

Repetition of child
Grammatically incomplete sentence – sentences involving the deletion of some words.

Sentences which could be categorised in more than one way were placed in the highest category in the order of priority list: repetition, interrogative, declarative, imperative, exclamatory, and grammatically incomplete (Giattino & Hogan 1975).







Turns (CT)729463134776294132Total utterances1821751632118462104152Total number of morphemes794104954995012593571660Mean length of utterance (MLU)4.3663.374.51.491.55.494.34Declaratives42422469 Wh-questions3234916 Yes/no questions12321136 Intonation

Questions7291130 Tag questions5503 Imperatives1585726 Exclamations 35162714 Parental self repetitions101164 Repetitions of child 227612 Grammatical incompletions2121

TABLE 4.1: Summary of means and amounts of parental speech and child vocalisation.

Most of the measures used in the speech analysis were simple counting procedures, using relatively straightforward criteria. In order to ensure reliability in the findings, I recalculated the data twice which removed any data verification errors that had occurred the first time.


The parents‘ total utterances to child Y suggest that the mother and father direct a similar amount of utterances to the younger, in comparison to the older sibling. The results show that the mother produced approx 12 utterances per minute to child Y, while the father produced approx 11 utterances per minute to the same child. The parents’ total utterances to child O show a significant difference. The father was found to produce almost 2.5 more utterances per minute to child O than the mother. In terms of conversational exchange, there are conflicting findings in the means of conversational turns (CT). The mother was found to take 9 more CT’s than the father in the dyad with child Y, however she was found to take 30 fewer turns in the dyad with child O. Though it is not to assume that the father spoke more to child O on the whole, as although his total of utterances was greater, his turns were also shorter, shown by his MLU in the dyad with child O (4.5), which was 25% less than the mother’s rate of MLU to the same child (6), as show in FIGURE 4.1a. The father also made fewer utterances (19 less than his partner) and addressed shorter utterances to child Y, which is again evidential in his MLU. This is contrary to existing research and hypotheses that propose fathers to be more challenging, demanding interlocutors than mothers. All in all, the mother consistently talked more than the father, speaking for 68% of her dyadic interaction with child Y and 63% of her dyadic interaction with child O.


The complexity of parental speech

In terms of MLU, the mother and father were found to show a significant difference. The father’s MLU to child O is almost equal to the mothers MLU to child Y (as shown in FIGURE 4.1a). Although the MLU of the parents conflicts with evidence from previous research, the MLU of each parent in the separate dyads correlates with the MLU of each child in the specific dyad (as shown in FIGURE 4.2a). Albeit the exception to this finding is the dyadic interaction involving the mother and child Y, which stipulates the mother’s MLU to be triple the child’s measure. This finding contradicts the ‘Fine-Tuning’ hypothesis.

The complexity of children’s speech

Although child Y made more conversational turns with the mother than the father, her MLU value was the same with both parents. It is plausible to say from this finding that the father elicited more complex speech from child Y as although she measured the same MLU with both parents, she made 22 fewer utterances with her father. The reverse can be said for child O. The findings show that the mother elicited more complex, longer speech from child O than the father, due to the fact child O’s MLU value with her mother is over 1 morpheme per utterance longer than with her father and she produced 48 less utterances in total with her mother.


FIGURE 4.2b shows the percentages of repetitions used in each of the dyads. The repetitions made by the mother were more consistent than the repetitions made by the father. The majority of the mother’s repetitions were repetitions of the child rather than herself. The findings regarding the repetitions made by the father show an inconsistency as it was found that the father made 3 times as many self repetitions with child Y than he did with child O.


TABLE 4.3a presents the proportions of utterance types employed in the parental speech. It shows the proportion of each utterance type as a percentage of the total utterances in each dyad. Totals add up to 100 per cent as sentences which could be categorised in more than one way were placed in the highest category in the order of a priority list (see methodology). FIGURE 4.3b shows the findings in table 2. FIGURE 4.3a shows the frequency of the utterance types in each dyadic interaction in the form of a clustered graph.







Yes/no questions7%18%7%17%

questions4%16.5%7%14%Tag questions3%3%0%1%Imperatives8%4.5%35%12%Exclamations19%9%16%7%Parental self repetitions5%1%10%2%Repetitions of child12%4%4%6%Grammatical incompletions1%1%1%0.5%

TABLE 4.3a: Summary of distribution of utterance types in parental speech (% of

total utterances).

The mother used the same proportion of declaratives in both of her dyads with the children. These included one-word declaratives and statements. In contrast, 15% of the total utterances produced to child Y by the father were declaratives, as were 33% of the total utterances he produced to child O.

Examples produced by the father included:

“I’ve got three now”


Examples produced by the mother included:

“I didn’t hear you properly that time”








Number of questions asked

Percentage of total of questions asked in dyad (%)

Number of questions asked

Percentage of total of questions asked in dyad (%)

Number of questions asked

Percentage of total of questions asked in dyad (%)

Number of questions asked

Percentage of total of questions asked in dyad (%)

Total questions56










Free Essays

What impact does the examiner’s behavior and individual characteristics (e.g. language background or gender) have on the test taker’s performance in a live oral proficiency interview?


The overwhelming consensus of the majority of literature agrees that the individual characteristics of the examiners in an oral proficiency interview do have a measurable effect on the outcomes of that interview. It seems that the effect of cultural differences is the prevailing concern amongst the literature, as modern academics have found that gender as a defining characteristic does not have any significant effect. This is contrary to previous findings which have concluded that according to one’s gender, there is a conversational style that is adopted and accordingly, participants are likely to respond in a typical or predictable manner. The concern of the literature with regards to the impact of cross-cultural differences can be used to explain the variety of opinion with regards to gender, as well as the impact of other factors of social identity on participants in the interviews. It stands to reason that different cultural contexts will view factors of social identity is different ways, and as a result thereof different candidates will respond to factors of gender, age, ethnicity and religion with different levels of severity with regards to impact. Arguably, the impact of certain characteristics on the candidate’s performance may be categorized into factors of social identity, where there is a potential for variation in performance based on the individual characteristics of the interviewer, as well as the candidates. The second factor relates to the tendency of interviewers to accommodate the candidate and this may be classified as behavioral. Based on the purpose of the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), as seeking to objectively assess proficiency, it stands to reason that both behavioral and individual characteristics should be taken into consideration in the design of the interview and assessment of the candidate’s skills. For the sake of pragmatism however, objective assessment and tolerance of behavioral characteristics should be addressed in order to ensure consistency of testing of all candidates and it would be impractical to assess and accommodate the impacts of individual characteristics in OPIs.


Cross-Cultural Pragmatics

Berwick, Richard & Ross, Steven (1996): Cross-cultural pragmatics in oral proficiency interview strategies. In: Milanovic, Michael & Saville, Nick (Eds.): Performance Testing, Cognition and Assessment: Selected papers from the 15th Language Testing Research Colloquium. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 34-54.

The article introduces the problem of reliability and validity in OPIs with regard to the conversational nature of the interview itself allowing for the introduction of accommodating techniques by interviewers presenting a dysfunctional characteristic of the interviewer, as this behavior or language demonstration being accommodated is generally that which displays the weaknesses in the interviewee’s language skills. The tendency of interviewers to accommodate less proficient language speakers is detrimental to the overall purpose of the test. There is a similar cross-cultural impact on those who provide interview ratings and there is a lack of awareness in the rating of OPIs with regards to these cross-cultural differences.

The study aimed to quantify this difference in the context of the interview itself and did so by using twelve language participants (six English as a second language (ESL), six Japanese learners) and one American interviewer. A number of differences in the approach of the interviewer was observed and illustrated, specifically relating to the way in which they accommodated the interviewee and directed the flow of conversation. It was observed that Japanese learners were overall much less fluent than their ESL counterparts and that they simultaneously displayed less morphosyntactic control than those learners. The research raises the question about whether there should be the development of a universal prototype for conducting the oral interview or whether there should be a conscious accounting for cultural differences. The alternative therefore is the tolerance of cultural differences to extent the assessment to pragmatic competence in the second language.

With reference to the above question, this article is highly relevant as it positions the paradigm of cross-cultural differences as it recognizes the unconscious effect of cultural differences on the ability of the interviewer to perform objectively in the test situation. Arguably, this is an innate limitation of the interview and to the extent that cross-cultural differences have an effect on the outcomes of learners in the OPI, the test should tolerate these differences in order to ensure accuracy and reliability of the results across the board.

Lazaraton, Anne (1996): Interlocutor support in oral proficiency interviews: the case of CASE. In: Language Testing 13, 151-172.

This article presents a qualitative analysis of the types of linguistic and interactional support that a native speaking interviewer provides to a non-native speaking candidate in personal interviews. This is one aspect of analysis with regards to the interviewer-candidate interaction and this refers to the unconscious gesture made by interviewers to accommodate their interviewee, with the natural behavior of the interviewer being directed more strongly at candidates with a less proficient skill set.

The results from the test indicated that, in the sample group of fifty-eight transcribed Cambridge Assessment of Spoken English (CASE) interviews, there were eight subtypes of interlocutor support prevalent which were observed, including the use of comprehension checks and clarification requests by the interviewer, grammatical, syntactical or lexical simplification of an utterance to facilitate comprehension and introducing a topic in order to set the scene for the candidate. It was suggested that these subtypes are positive findings for the purposes of the presence of documented conversational practices. It is unclear on the research, whether the presence of these subtypes had any effect on the outcome ratings of proficiency in these cases, however it is clear that there is an effect on these ratings.

As was the case with the Berwick et al. (1996) article, it is clear that there is a tendency of the interviewer to accommodate their own cultural paradigms into the interview setting and that this may have a measurable impact on the candidate themselves. The impact therefore should be tolerated or accommodated in some way in order to ensure the accuracy of the results as a measure of language proficiency, this justifying the inclusion of this article.

Examiner Conduct

Brown, Annie. (2003): Interviewer variation and the co-construction of speaking proficiency. Language Testing, 20(1), 1-25.

The central assertion of this article is that the achievement of consistent ratings in the interview is dependent on the consistency of the examiners conduct during the process of interviewing. The article presents findings in previous research that supports the hypothesis that interviewers generally have distinct and individual styles which they use across a number of interviews and this style is apparent in different forms of interviews, even those with constrained speech. The instrument of the study was an interview by two different interviewers, rated objectively as the most difficult and least difficult interviewer according to quantitative ratings.

Factors associated with different interviewing style include: the level of rapport that they are able to establish with the interviewee, their functional and chosen topics, the ways in which they ask questions and construct prompts, the ways in which they develop and extend the chosen topic, and the ways in which, and the extent to which they accommodate their speech into that of the interviewer. These factors were used to determine the difficulty rating of the interviewer and were applied to the results of the interview.

The outcomes of the interviewer were typical in that the interviewee performed predictably better with the easier rated interviewer and worse with the more difficult rated interviewer. It was found that the interview style of the easier rated interviewer contributed to the quality of the outcome of the interviewee. The conclusions of the research found that standard approaches to training and accreditation is inadequate, as the formal methods of training neglect to consider different interviewing styles that develop post-qualification. This is particularly relevant in second language testing as there is a heavy reliance of these interviews on an unstructured naturalistic interaction, and therefore the style of the interviewer becomes arguably more important. These must be monitored in order to ensure that they do not present different levels of challenge in and of themselves.

It is clear therefore based on this research, that there are a number of factors specific to the interviewer that may have an effect on the performance of the interviewee in the test. The individual characteristics of the examiner therefore may have a significant impact on the results of the test in so far as the individual examiners style may present a challenge independent of the test being undertaken.

Impact of Gender in Oral Proficiency Testing

O’Loughlin, Kieran (2002): The impact of gender in oral proficiency testing. In: Language Testing 19/2, 169-192.

The article presents an introduction to the available literature on gender characteristics having an overall effect on the ability of examiners or interviewers on interviewees. Ultimately, the article looks to understand the differences between interviewers and suggests that the cause of the variability is at least partly due to gender differences. It is suggested that male and female conversational styles are uniquely distinct and as such, men and women constitute different speech communities. Based on this assertion, female conversational style is characterized as collaborative, co-operative, symmetrical and supportive, whereas its male conversational style is characteristically controlling, uncooperative, asymmetrical and unsupportive.

These findings however neglect certain social identity factors in their generalizations as to both the communicative characteristics of the interviewer and those of the interviewee, such as age, ethnicity, occupation and sexual identity. These factors indicate that language use of men and women is flexible and can vary distinctly across cultural, social and situational context, overriding potential gender differences. There is a further suggestion that the behavior of the interviewer may change according to the gender of the interviewee and gendered behavior of the interviewer may strengthen or undermine the performance of the interviewee.

The participants in the study were tested twice in an International English Language Testing System IELTS practice interview, one with a male interviewer and once with a female interviewer. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed in relation to previously identified features of gendered language use, namely overlaps, interruptions and minimal responses. The analyzed scores from a discourse analysis and a test-score analysis indicated that there was no significant effect of gender on the IELTS interview. It was found that there was no significant gender pattern with the use of gendered language features and collaborative language use was experienced by both genders of participants.

It is concluded that gender competes with other elements of social identity in a fluid and dynamic manner, and because of the extensive variety of these factors, the effect of gender on the interviewees performance may be specific to a situation and therefore difficult to predict. This article emphasizes the impact of factors of social identity on the test taker’s performance, as well as the particular impact of gender. Arguably, it may be evidenced that test-takers with particular sensitivity to gender stereotyping may react differently, however the weight of gender as a factor is as a characteristic of social identity.

This article is a relevant consideration as it positions the factor of gender within a paradigm of social identity factors and does not focus specifically on the effect of gender in interviews. In doing so, it becomes clear that the impact of individual characteristics on the interview participants is one which is not easy to predict as it relies heavily on the individual characteristics of the examiner and participant. Therefore mitigating the impact of these characteristics on the participant may not be practical or pragmatic as an approach to improving reliability and validity of these tests.

Meaning Negotiation

Katona, Lucia (1998): Meaning negotiation in Hungarian oral proficiency examination of English. In: Young, Richard & He, Agnes Weiyun (Eds.): Talking and testing. Discourse approaches to the assessment of oral proficiency, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 239-270.

This article is concerned with the effect of the interlocutor on the test experience or simply stated the effect of the interviewer on the outcome of the test experience. This is based on the premise that any variation in the way in which a task is presented to the test-taker may have a significant or noticeable impact of the performance of the test-taker in that interaction. This echoes the finding of many empirical studies researching the effect of individual characteristics of the examiner on the test participant.

The article proposes meaning negotiation and considers the effect of familiarity on the candidates. The study proposes that an interviewer that is familiar to the candidate may have an effect on the way in which meaning is negotiated between the participants. It does so by studying the effects of meaning negotiation between Hungarian interviewers and interviewees during the English OPIs. The study revealed that candidates who were familiar with the interlocutor interacted more natural in the negotiation sequences and exchanges presented to them in the interview. Conversely, attempts to engage in negotiation discourse with an unfamiliar interlocutor resulted in a more formal and artificial interaction. The article concludes that the frequency and the type of negotiation differ according to whether the interlocutor was known to the participant, and where the interlocutor is unknown, it is more likely to result in misunderstandings between the participants and overall, the discourse is more artificial and formal in nature.

This article is highly relevant for the purposes of the topic at hand, as it presents a potential method for mitigating the impact of certain forms of individual or behavioral characteristics on the interview participant. If one considers that, particularly with regards to individual characteristics, there is no practical manner of eliminating the effect of these characteristics on the participants, meaning negotiation may allow for the mitigation of these characteristics in the interview, allowing for a natural interaction which may allow for the demonstration of the requisite skills.


Behavioral characteristics of examiners have a significant impact on the outcomes of the OPIs, particularly in their own tendencies to unconsciously accommodate the shortcomings in the proficiency of the participants (Brown, 2003; Lazaraton, 1996). Through training and evaluation of the interviewers after the completion of their training, it may be possible to tolerate these differences and possibly mitigate their effect on the participants (Brown, 2003). This however is problematic due to the conversational nature of the interviews themselves as there is a significant freedom within the interviews to direct questions and subject matter (Berwick, et al., 1996).

Individual characteristics of the interviewer may also have a significant effect on the outcome of the OPIs: however these are not strictly limited to gender. Indeed, previous research indicates that gender does have an impact, however it is noted that this impact is not specific to gender, but rather to features of social identity experienced by both the interviewer and the participant. It stands to reason that mitigating the impact of social identity factors on the participants is a pragmatic difficulty as there is no practical way of accounting for this impact (O’Loughlin, 2002). It was shown that gender as a single factor does not have any significant difference, although in a study which surveys a more diverse social group, this outcome may be markedly different.

Meaning negotiation was shown to have a significant impact on the level of comfort and formality experienced by the participant and it was found that the participants with an interlocutor who was familiar to them had a more natural interaction, whilst those with an unfamiliar interlocutor did not (Katonta, 1998). Arguably, therefore an interlocutor who is familiar may provide necessary relief for the behavioral and individual characteristic impacts noted above. This however is based on the premise that a more natural interaction leads to a better result, which was not commented on in the study.


Brown, Annie. (2003): Interviewer variation and the co-construction of speaking proficiency. Language Testing, 20(1), 1-25.

Berwick, Richard & Ross, Steven (1996): Cross-cultural pragmatics in oral proficiency interview strategies. In: Milanovic, Michael & Saville, Nick (Eds.): Performance Testing, Cognition and Assessment: Selected papers from the 15th Language Testing Research Colloquium. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 34-54.

Katona, Lucia (1998): Meaning negotiation in Hungarian oral proficiency examination of English. In: Young, Richard & He, Agnes Weiyun (Eds.): Talking and testing. Discourse approaches to the assessment of oral proficiency, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 239-270.

Lazaraton, Anne (1996): Interlocutor support in oral proficiency interviews: the case of CASE. In: Language Testing 13, 151-172.

O’Loughlin, Kieran (2002): The impact of gender in oral proficiency testing. In: Language Testing 19/2, 169-192.

Free Essays

Lost Languages

It is a sad but true fact that out of the more than six thousand languages that existed in the world at one time, one disappears every fortnight! Take the example of Patrick Nudjulu of North Australia, one of the three remaining speakers of the dying language Mati Ke. As tradition forbids him to speak to his sister, he does not have anyone he can speak his own language with, and as a consequence, the language is dying out, and will disappear with the death of Patrick. Some of the other languages that will disappear soon and be lost forever are, according to Duncan Walker, Abenaki, Atures, Welsh, and Manx.  (Walker, Duncan 2005)

In any culture, land and its language are closely inter connected, and in Aboriginal Australia, this is especially true because the entire continent is divided by its hills and other geographical distinctions, and also because of its languages. The people of Wadeye, who spoke Mati Ke, were forced to move over and start using the Murrinh-Patta. This meant that Mati Ke was no longer being used, and nobody even realized in the beginning that the language of their ancestors was slipping away into oblivion.

Patrick Nudjulu, an old man, and one of the few people left in the world who can actually speak Mati Ke still, says, “I still dream in Mati Ke. See all in the past.” His own daughter and granddaughter do not know how to speak this language, and they use the Murrinh-Patta that they are more familiar with. It is interesting to note that for Patrick Nudjulu, English is his fourth of fifth strongest language.

The author of the book Mark Abley, in a quest to gain knowledge of a few words of Mati Ke, learnt that ‘mi warzu’ is the name for fruit in Mati Ke, ‘a dhan gi’ means salt water prawns, ‘a wayelh’ refers to goanna lizard, although it was sadly true that Patrick Nudjulu himself was forced to use the Murrinh-Patta to communicate with his family. Patrick’s story is indeed a tragic but an all too familiar one; he was forced to leave the town in which he had been living after his parents had given up their difficult life in the bush, but had to go back to life in the bush because he could no longer tolerate the destruction of his town.

He has in effect returned to the bark and bough shelters that were familiar to him, as he had lived in them through his childhood. However, despite his best efforts, it was obvious that his language would not be saved; although he spoke to his grandchildren in Mati Ke, they chose to reply to him in Murrinh-Patta, thereby leaving no doubt at all that yet another language, Mati Ke, is on its inexorable way to extinction.   (Abley, Mark 2005)

Works cited

Abley, Mark “Spoken here, travels among threatened languages” (2005) Google Book Search retrieved on March 11, 2008 from <>

Walker, Duncan “In defence of ‘lost’ languages” BBC News (2005) Retrieved on March 11, 2008 from <>



Free Essays


An important element in any story is the language that a writer uses. The manner by which an author writes his story tells readers about the message he is trying to communicate. In every story, the wording itself conveys a certain message. In Junot Diaz’s “Drown,” language is an essential tool. The language he used is not just a means by which he communicates with readers.

His manner of writing sends a message as well. Diaz’s work is about the life of immigrants. Immigrants commonly tackle cultural identity issues. Diaz’s work tackles these issues. Self-identification is explored in the story and is evident in Diaz’s use of two languages. By using Spanish, his native language, and English, the author addresses the struggle that immigrants encounter, the struggle of maintaining one’s native culture while living in a foreign land.

The ten stories that are found in “Drown” are all written in English. However, Diaz integrated certain Spanish words within the text. Such integration of the two languages demonstrates the battle between the two cultures that the characters need to identify with.

In the stories, “Ysrael,” “Aguantando,” and “Fiesta, 1980” Diaz inserts a few Spanish words in the narration. These stories tackle the early years of the narrator’s life in the United States. At this point, the narrator is in a constant struggle of cultural identification with his new home and his native land. In “Ysrael” Diaz writes: “The next morning the roosters were screaming.

Rafa dumped the ponchera in the weeds and then collected our shoes from the patio, careful not to step on the pile of cacao beans Tia had set out to dry.” (Diaz 9) The interjection of Spanish words is not clearly noticeable. By doing so, Diaz is able to let readers into the narrator’s mind. He is able to let readers see things from the perspective of the narrator, a man who struggles to stay in touch with the culture of his native land.

The next stories in the book focus on the life of immigrants as they have settled in the United States. In the story, “Edison, New Jersey,” Diaz uses language to demonstrate the difference in the two cultures that the narrator identifies with. Yunior, the main character in the story, is shown to rarely use Spanish, his native language. The only time that he speaks in Spanish is when he points out how he differs from the American culture. Also, Yunior only uses Spanish to differentiate himself from the culture he left behind, the Dominican culture. When he makes a delivery to a house where he found sheets of newspaper laid down on the floor, Yunior suddenly uses Spanish: “Carajo, what if we slip.” (Diaz 122)

Another instance when Yunior shifts to Spanish is when he describes his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. He describes the guy as a “zangano” and “painfully gringo.” (Diaz 126) These two instances, no matter how insignificant to the story they may be, illustrates the continuous battle of the two cultures as immigrants attempt to create their identity. Also, these incidents illustrate the narrator’s feeling of being left out from the world around him. He constantly longs for the feeling of belongingness in the culture of his new land. At the same time, he cannot seem to escape his past and the culture of his native land.

Junot Diaz’s use of Spanish and English illustrate the battle of two cultures. It shows the struggle of Dominican immigrants to create their identity as they try to adjust to the American culture while at the same time maintaining their native cultural heritage.

Works Cited

Diaz, Junot. Drown. New York: Riverhead, 1997.

Free Essays

Linguistic Reading Response Paper on “The Celtic Languages”

It is interesting to note that the term ‘Celt’ is a linguistic term first mentioned in the writings of Greek and Roman ethnographers and historians (MacAulay, p. 2). My idea of the concept is that of a particular people with a distinct language who once inhabited Great Britain. It turns out that this language, generally known as Continental Celtic, has a range of dialects once spread out across the various peoples of Europe such as in Gaul and northern Italy, yet died out on the European continent a few centuries back.

Celtic survived however, in the British Isles and in Ireland, which is quite a feat given the dominance of Latin and later English settlements. In terms of linguistic affinities, Celtic is recognized as an Indo-European language though it is of interest to note that experts regard it as having archaic features (MacAulay, p. 3), i.e. its lack of a fully developed infinitive, differentiation of gender in numerals 3 and 4, among others, sometimes attributed to its being a ‘peripheral’ language removed from an innovating center. Variations between the Celtic languages, i.e. Continental and Insular, appear to be a convoluted matter best left to linguists.

Ultimately the evolved form of the modern Celtic languages has special typological features which are both archaic (conservative) and innovative. Locative structures used to express location and possession are utilized to express aspectual modes, which in turn cover the range of progressive, prospective and perfective aspects in Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and optionally in British (MacAulay, p. 6).

On the other hand, Breton and Irish have innovated based on their majority contact languages French and English, to develop new perfective constructions, as contact with these languages is a primary accelerating source of innovation in Celtic tongues. Thus, languages continue to evolve as its speakers, in the course of their interaction with those of other cultures, are exposed to foreign influences in the on-going social interface between peoples and nations in an increasingly globalizing world.

Linguistic Response Paper on the “Creole Continuum”

The so-called ‘Creole continuum‘ evolve in situations in which a creole coexists with its lexical source language and there is social motivation for creole speakers to acquire the standard so that the speech of individuals takes on features of the latter – or avoids features of the former – to varying degrees (p. 50).

Considering that linguists for a long time were unsure on how to classify varieties with both creole and non-creole features, particularly the English-based varieties of the West Indies, it appears significant to consider that among the many Negro slaves in different parts of America, the jargon upon becoming the only language of the subject group, is a creolized language considered inferior to the masters’ speech yet nonetheless subject to constant leveling-out and improvement in the direction of the latter (Bloomfield, 1933, p. 474).

Linguists such as DeCamp attempted to work out a theoretical model that could deal with variation in a sufficiently rigorous manner, in reaction to the transformational generative grammar coming to dominate American linguistics. The general usefulness of the continuum model gained wide acceptance by the mid-1970s, yet it is true that it fails to explain why Atlantic creoles in particular share so many structural features not found in their different lexical source languages (p. 58). Thus the shift back into a universalist theory giving primacy to language acquisition.

Chomsky (1965) had proposed that children were born with a predisposition to recognize certain universal properties of language that facilitated their acquisition of the language of their particular speech community (p. 58). Yet such an assertion is still open to scholarly debate and argumentation. It would thus appear that the answer to the creole question remains elusive, despite advances in linguistic studies and theory.


MacAulay, Donald. “The Celtic languages: an overview”

Free Essays

Neuropsychology of Language

The neuropsychological approaches are gradually leading to important discoveries about many aspects of brain function, and language is no exception. Progress has certainly been made in identifying the structure and form of language(s), its universal features, its acquisition and so on, but, until recently, this work has tended to ignore pathologies of language. More recently, neuropsychologists have begun to draw parallels between aphasic disorders and disruption to specific linguistic processes.

This work provides evidence of a double dissociation between semantic and syntactic processes, and illustrates clearly that no single brain ‘language centre’ exists. The development of research tools such as the Wada test, and, more recently, structural and functional imaging procedures, has enabled researchers to examine language function in the brains of normal individuals.

This work considers the various ways that scientists have examined lateralisation, and the conclusions that they have drawn from their research. The work supports the view that language is mediated by a series of interconnected cortical regions in the left hemisphere, much as the 19th century neurologists proposed. In addition, this work considers recent explorations of language functions in the brain using neurophysiological techniques.

At first glance, the two cortical hemispheres look rather like mirror images of each other. The brain, like other components of the nervous system, is superficially symmetrical along the midline, but closer inspection reveals many differences in structure, and behavioural studies suggest differences in function too. The reason for these so-called asymmetries is unclear, although they are widely assumed to depend on the action of genes. Some writers have suggested that they are particularly linked to the development in humans of a sophisticated language system (Crow, 1998). Others have argued that the asymmetries predated the appearance of language and are related to tool use and hand preference.

Scientific interest in language dates back to the earliest attempts by researchers to study the brain in a systematic way, with the work of Dax, Broca and Wernicke in the 19th century. Since then, interest in all aspects of language has intensified to the point where its psychological study (psycholinguistics) is now recognised as a discipline in its own right. In 1874 Karl Wernicke described two patients who had a quite different type of language disorder. Their speech was fluent but incomprehensible and they also had profound difficulties understanding spoken language.

Wernicke later examined the brain of one of these patients and found damage in the posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus on the left. At the same time as characterising this second form of language disorder, which we now call Wernicke’s aphasia, Wernicke developed a theory of how the various brain regions with responsibility for receptive and expressive language function interact. His ideas were taken up and developed by Lichtheim and later, by Geschwind.

In Broca’s aphasia, as with most neurological conditions, impairment is a matter of degree, but the core feature is a marked difficulty in producing coherent speech (hence the alternative names of ‘expressive’ or ‘non-fluent’ aphasia). Broca’s aphasics can use well-practised expressions without obvious difficulty, and they may also be able to sing a well-known song faultlessly.

These abilities demonstrate that the problem is not related to ‘the mechanics’ of moving the muscles that are concerned with speech. Wernicke’s first patient had difficulty in understanding speech yet could speak fluently, although what he said usually did not make much sense. This form of aphasia clearly differed in several respects from that described by Broca. The problems for Wernicke’s patient were related to comprehension and meaningful output rather than the agrammatical and telegraphic output seen in Broca’s patients.

Broca’s and Wernicke’s work generated considerable interest among fellow researchers. In 1885, Lichtheim proposed what has come to be known as the ‘connectionist model of language’ to explain the various forms of aphasia (seven in all) that had, by then, been characterised. Incidentally, the term ‘connectionist’ implies that different brain centres are interconnected, and that impaired language function may result either from damage to one of the centres or to the path-In Lichtheim’s model, Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas formed two points of a triangle (Franklin 2003).

The third point represented a ‘concept’ centre where word meanings were stored and where auditory comprehension thus occurred. Each point was interconnected, so that damage, either to one of the centres (points), or to any of the pathways connecting them would induce some form of aphasia. Lichtheim’s model explained many of the peculiarities of different forms of aphasia, and became, for a time, the dominant model of how the brain manages language comprehension and production.

Three new lines of inquiry – the cognitive neuropsychology approach, the functional neuro-imaging research of Petersen, Raichle and colleagues, and the neuroanatomical work of Dronkers and colleagues – have prompted new ideas about the networks of brain regions that mediate language. Researchers in the newly emerging field of developmental cognitive neuroscience seek to understand how postnatal brain development relates to changes in perceptual, cognitive, and social abilities in infants and children (Johnson 2005).

The cognitive neuropsychological approach has underlined the subtle differences in cognitive processes that may give rise to specific language disorders. The functional imaging research has identified a wider set of left brain (and some right brain) regions that are clearly active as subjects undertake language tasks. The emerging view from these diverse research approaches is that language is a far more complex and sophisticated skill than was once thought.

A universal design feature of languages is that their meaning-bearing forms are divided into two different subsystems, the open-class, or lexical, and the closed-class, or grammatical (Johnson 1997). Open classes have many members and can readily add many more. They commonly include (the roots of) nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

Closed classes have relatively few members and are difficult to augment. They include such bound forms as inflections (say, those appearing on a verb) and such free forms as prepositions, conjunctions, and determiners. In addition to such overt closed classes, there are implicit closed classes such as the set of grammatical categories that appear in a language (say, nounhood, verbhood, etc., per se), and the set of grammatical relations that appear in a language (say, subject status, direct object status, etc.).

The work supports a model of hemispheric specialisation in humans. While it would be an oversimplification to call the left hemisphere the language hemisphere and the right hemisphere the spatial (or non-language) hemisphere, it is easy to see why earlier researchers jumped to this conclusion. Whether this is because the left hemisphere is preordained for language, or because it is innately better at analytic and sequential processing, is currently a matter of debate.

The classic neurological approach to understanding the role of the brain in language relied on case studies of people with localised damage, usually to the left hemisphere. Broca and Wernicke described differing forms of aphasia, the prominent features of the former being non-fluent agrammatical speech, and those of the latter being fluent but usually unintelligible speech. Their work led to the development of Lichtheim’s ‘connectionist’ model of language, which emphasised both localisation of function and the connections between functional areas.


Brook, A. & Atkins K. (2005). Cognition and the brain: the philosophy and neuroscience movement. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Crain, W. (1992). Theories of Development: Concepts and applications. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Crow, T.J. (1998). “Nuclear schizophrenic symptoms as a window on the relationship between thought and speech.” British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 303-309.

Franklin, Ronald D. (2003). Prediction in Forensic and Neuropsychology: Sound Statistical Practices. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Mahwah, NJ.

Johnson, M. H. (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Johnson, M. H. (2005) Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Blackwell, Oxford, 2nd Ed.

Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I.Q. (1996). Fundamentals of human neuropsychology, 4th edition, New York: Freeman and Co.

Maruish, Mark and E. Moses, Jr. (1997). Clinical Neuropsychology: Theoretical Foundations for Practitioners. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Mahwah, NJ.

Loring, D.W. (1999). INS Dictionary of Neuropsychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stirling, J. (2002). Introducing Neuropsychology. Psychology Press: New York.


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Englisg Language Yesterday, Today and Tomarrow

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English Language Essay on Spoken Text

Text B is an interview on television show conducted by two presenters with the purpose being to conceive as much information as they can from J. K. Rowling, a famous author on her newest Harry Potter book. The audience here would predominantly be avid young readers of the book who want to know about the book and regular followers of the show. The dominant speaker in this text B would be the interviewers and the chat show is based on adjacency pairs.

Using a false-start and contradiction in “no, I don’t – yes I do” illustrate aspects of spoken language although there are clear elements where the audience might know the interviewers had a basic idea of what was to be asked before-hand. The lack of non-fluency features more clearly suggest the questions were previously prepared, for example, when Richard says “All the papers that have been promoting this interview today clearly want us…” This tells us research was undertaken on what sort of questions the audience or readers wanted answered.

The change of tone at the end of a sentence suggests spontaneity and cues the other speaker’s turn to speak. For example, “But of course the last one at the moment is residing in your safe”, portrays the change in tone at the end. Judy, the interviewer used more interrogatives like “two much loved ones? ” while Richard uses ellipsis to try and create spontaneity and confidence, “you told your husband, obviously you confide in him all things…” allowing turn-taking.

The interviewee also seems a little uninterested through her short answers such as “He did one of the, yeah”; to perhaps show she isn’t in the mood or the fact she’s trying to be careful so as to not reveal any information thus considering her words. Text C is a play script from American Buffalo by David Mamet, with the purpose primarily being to entertain. The audience here would be predominantly educated theatre going audience.

The play script is structurally organized through the use of adjacency pairs, with interrogatives being a main aspect. Don is portrayed as the dominant speaker as he controls the conversation and asserts his position through speech. Don’s speech is also longer and more authorative to further portray his higher status than Bob. The use of turn-taking and the informal setting gives way to colloquialism such as “well she was real mad at him”, “jewed” and “yup”.

Don also uses “Bobby” to show familiarity with the other character as well as it being a little patronizing to represent their distinctive positions and relationship. Don also instigates topic shifts structurally as he tries to teach Bob about business, “Things are not always what they seem to be”, shows how a cliche to perhaps portray Don’s maturity and wisdom in comparison to the youth and naivety of Bob.

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Why the Us Does Not Have an Official Language

Kelly Setters September 12, 2012 ENG 122 Teresa Plummer English Composition 2 Why the United States doesn’t have a Designated Language ? Why the United States doesn’t have a Designated Language Why the United States does not have an official language has been an ongoing debate for a long time. A lot of people are for it and a lot of people are against it. While conducting my research I learned that if the United States made English the official language of the country it would be going against the first amendment, Freedom of speech. Regardless of going against the constitution 27 states have made English their official language.

Why is it so important to so many people that the United States have an official language? Would it aid immigrants in the assimilation process and make it more likely for them to succeed? Can other languages be used in the country for certain official purposes, if English is the sole official language? Does official English offend the idea of American diversity? Does it discriminate against non-native speakers? Does an adequate incentive exist to learn English without it being official? Is there anything wrong with the status quo? Do most countries in the world have an official language? Is it important for any tangible and practical reasons?

Do English only laws threaten or enhance public safety? Is official English good public policy? (Debate 2010) These are questions that rise in everyone’s mind when the topic of designating an official language in the US comes up. The 27 states of the United States of America that have an official langiage are, “Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming. (Us constitution net 1995-2010) Many people think it’s unconstitutional for the United States to have an official language because it’s America. America is where freedom rings. References No Author Cited Does the United States need an official language Retrieved from: http://maxweber. hunter. cuny. edu/pub/eres/GSR716A_KUECHLER/monique. htm No Author cited (2010) Debate: English as US official language Retrieved from: http://debatepedia. idebate. org/en/index. php/Debate:_English_as_US_official_language Walenta, C. (1995-2010) Constitutional Topic: Official Language Retrieved from: http://www. usconstitution. net/consttop_lang. html

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Gender Discrimination on English Language

ABSTRACT Language plays an important role in society. As a phenomenon of society, language reflects all the sides of human society naturally. Sexism is a phenomenon that takes a male-as-norm attitude, trivializing, insulting or rendering women invisible. As a mirror reflecting the society, language images the social views and values. The causes of sexism in this thesis are not the language itself but due to the inequality between male and female in such areas as traditional culture, religious consciousness social status as well as social status.

Language, which has a close relation with the society, could reflect the certain social custom and characteristic of a nation. In addition, social development and changes in turn will affect language and can input fresh blood to it. English, as one of the oldest languages, which has an extensive influence in the current world, has also experienced numerous impacts from the reforms and changes. These changes and trends constantly updated the use of language as well.

In the 1960s ,great changes have been made in modern English since the rise of the American feminist movement,namely, the women’s liberation movement. That is, some of the original uses and meanings have been eliminated or become obsolete while some new expressions have emerged. On the one hand, it makes the English expressions and use more accurate, clear. On the other hand, however, it is hard to avoid bringing some new problems.

The thesis summarizes the phenomena of sexism in English as well as traces the reasons for the occurrence of sexism in the English language. Then it concerns the feminist influence on language. The paper documents and discusses feminist language reform: the efforts, the initiatives and actions of feminists around the world to change the biased representation of the sexes in language Key Words: Sexism in language; Feminist movement; Language reform; Contents 0. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………. ,,,,,,,,1 1.. Sexism in Language ……………………………………. ………………………….. 2 1. 1 The definition of language sexism……………………………………………………. 2 1. 2 The phenomenon of language sexism in English…………………….. …………6 1. 3The reason of language sexism in English………………………………………. 7 1. 3. 1The influence of socialized prejudice and traditional idea…………………….. 7 1. 3. 2 The influence of religion consciousness…………………………………………….. 7 1. 3. 3 The Psychological reason…………………………………………………… 2. The Development of the English Language Sexism viewed from the American Feminist Movements and its Effects………………………………………………………………………………. 2. 1 The influence of feminist movement on Language Sexism………………. 2. 3 The effects on English language after the language reform ……………………………… 2. 3 The Different Attitude towards the Reform of English Language Conclusion………………………………………………………………13 References………………………………………………………………15 Acknowledgements………………………………………………… 16

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Military Language: Through My Eyes Literacy Narrative

Jaron Dowell Professor Benjamin Smith ENGL 1113 20120930 Military Language: Through My Eyes My drill instructor TSgt Huggins proudly stated to my flight of sixty other high school kids from around the U. S. , “Well boys we just got some breaking news from the commander, the state of Texas’s elevation has increased by four inches and it’s your all’s responsibility to right this wrong and the only way to do that is to push, so get on your face and keep pushing till I say stop. When most people overhear military personnel conversing with one other, I’m sure their first thought would be that the English language is being butchered because all they hear are acronyms. Examples are abound everywhere: if you overheard me saying that it’s time to go chow at the DFAC, most civilians would just stare at me with a puzzling look, but if other military personnel or someone familiar with the terminology overheard me, they wouldn’t question what had just been said at all; on the contrary, they would just know that it was time to go eat at the dining facility.

The first time military language was introduced to me was the unforgettable day of June 29th, 2009 in the unforgivable heat of southern Texas at Lackland AFB. While 99% of my senior class was off having a last hoorah before they went off to college, I was getting told to get on my face and do pushups till my arms fall off by a man so huge, the earth shook beneath his feet. I was hundreds of miles away from home, and it suddenly hit me for what I had gotten myself into. Over the next two months I would have my views on life be changed almost on a weekly basis by what was going on around me.

If I had known on my first day of what I should have said to Huggins question, I wouldn’t have had a problem, but instead I did the most idiotic thing you could do: I let out a small chuckle. With a blink of an eye, sergeant Huggins was in my face and letting me know if I thought something was funny, to which my response was “Sir trainee Dowell reports as ordered, sir I do not find you a funny man at all. ” I thought that was the proper answer, but I was very wrong. Huggins was all-knowing and had an answer to everything.

He just stared at me with a blank expression and said “That hurts trainee, here I was letting you see my talent and you go and do this to me, well since I’m obviously not the funny one how about you tell me a joke, so that way I can learn from a professional. ” That moment I started to open my mouth and before a word was spoken an explosion went off, “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING, YOU WILL NOT SPEAK, YOU ARE NOT FUNNY, YOU ARE GOOD FOR ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY, YOU WILL BE MY LATRINE QUEEN AND YOU WILL HAVE MY BATHROOM CLEAN ENOUGH TO EAT OFF, DO YOU UNDERSTAND! To which I responded “Yes sir. ” It was at that moment I understood exactly the beauty of just saying two words and nothing else, “yes sir” was my dearest companion and would serve me well for the next couple months. Military culture was infusing itself with me more and more each day that I was at basic training. It was always adapting and helping me to understand the world around me and its intentions were obvious since very first day of basic training: to break me down, just to build me up.

The act of being yelled at was literacy in its purest form. To me it was a means of communicating the disciplines I would have to endure in order for me to be a contributing force in the United States Air Force. Although I was not a fan of being yelled at on a regular basis, it began to dawn on me that in order for me to progress; I would have to learn the language that was presented in front of me. As simple as the language may have appeared to me at first, I learned that it was actually quite intricate.

Not only did it combine language being spoken, but it utilized body language as well. The body language was the hardest aspect for me to grasp at the beginning; although I may have not intended to disrespect any MTI; my body language seemed to always be saying something completely opposite of what I had just spoken. But through persistent “behavioral modifications,” or as I like to say “getting my head chewed off,” I was able to overcome that obstacle in no time at all.

I had learned the art of being a big guy that could be tinier and quieter than a field mouse. I had learned my lesson and now began the practice of listening before speaking and it was worked wonderfully in my favor because I hadn’t received the wrath of any of my drill instructors. I started to realize that the military was teaching me valuable tools that would help me throughout my life, not just a means for me to survive basic training.

At times the language and environment was harsh but I came to the conclusion that I needed to take a step back and allow someone to help me progress myself as an adult. For me, graduating basic training was one of the proudest moments of my life and whenever I look back at that day, I know that if I hadn’t of been put through that stress, I wouldn’t have the skills I do today to deal with that. The military was a great thing for me to experience, and I will always be thankful for that.

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Language Corrupts Thought Essay

Language Corrupts Thought Essay Speeches are given all the time, all around the world. Speeches are given to express thoughts and feelings by revealing the speaker’s qualities and opinions, which can impact business, politics, and world events. Politicians are constantly corrupting citizen’s thoughts. They do this in order to distort the truth, to gain your attention, and to go along and follow what they believe. In March 2008, Sally Kern stated her position in homosexuality.

Looking through Kern’s speech, she is distorting the truth by telling biased statistics, information that is irrational, and that she is influencing others with her religion view. First, Kern use of statistics is completely biased. “Matter of fact, studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell for this country. ” This so called study is completely biased because she has no proof or evidence that what she is stating is even a bit true.

And she has no proof to prove to us that there have been societies that have died out because they embraced homosexuality. She is a bigot in such a way that she won’t tolerate those who hold different opinions from her own, which is not something we look for in a legislator or anyone who is a part of the government system. Throughout the speech, Kern demonstrates reasons to why she is against homosexuals. “I honestly think it’s the biggest threat even, that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat. OK? ” Homosexuals are not a threat to our nation.

The comparison between terrorism and homosexuals just cannot be made. Homosexuals do not cause a danger to our country or our universe, for that matter. There have been no Americans killed by LGBT citizens, if at all, there are more Americans killing LGBT citizens, not directly, but through suicidal acts. Terrorists have killed thousands of people, posing a threat to our country, which are things that homosexuals have not done. “Homosexuals are already citizens who have equal rights. They want “special rights” for the acceptance of their deviant lifestyle.

I’m thankful that Oklahoma is different than California and New York. I pray it stays that way. ” Once again, Homosexuals do not want “special rights”, all they want is to be able to live their life, married with their significant other. What is so different between a man and woman marriage and 2 men or 2 women marriage? Throughout history, people have stood up for things that they did not agree with. African Americans were segregated for years. George Wallace, former governor of Alabama, said in his inaugural address, “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. judging African Americans based on the color of their skin. Or the Jewish people taken from their homes to concentration camps judging them based on their religion. Homosexuality is no different. Another thing Kern continuously states in this speech is her religious view, hinting that her religious view is superior to any other. “But if I were to ask you what is the one thing that has made America great, that makes us unique, what would it be?… What made us great is that we were a nation founding on Christian principles… I am not saying everyone has to be Christian; this is not a homogenous nation.

What you have to be is someone who believes in a Judeo-Christian ethic, in other words, in knowing there’s a right and wrong. ” She asked the question, and then answered it herself. Instead of letting the American’s minds wander and to think for themselves, Kern just automatically answered for them without thought of a different opinion. Also, she contradicts herself in that last sentence. She’s telling us we can pick whatever religion we’d like, which is what should happen, but telling us we need these requirements regardless of what religion we believe in or even if we believe in one.

This is said simply to push more people towards Christianity and believe with what she believes in. Kern all the way through her speech, addressed the issue of homosexuality and why she thought it was inhumane and unjust for our country. However, Kern filled her speech with absurd ideas and invalid information. Kern’s speech about homosexuality evidently failed because Kern did not back up information with proof or evidence and tried using her religion to persuade people to side with her. Work Cited http://www. boxturtlebulletin. com/2008/03/20/1662

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The Vernacular Language

The Vernacular Language Over the course of humanity, there have been many different languages that have come and gone. As this topic is being discussed, we can probably assume that there is another spoken or written language being developed for use in one way or another. Latin is one of the most prominent languages and was one of the longest used amongst those that were educated and within literature. The real questions that beg to be answered are the origins of the language and what were the impacts the spread of vernacular language had on cultures during this period.

The Latin language has survived in one form or another for over two thousand years, dating back to around 75 B. C. and still in use today. No matter where we look, we can see the influence of this language. Dating back to the founding of Rome, in 753 B. C. , they have been at war and have been a nation that has conquered many different countries. While the rise of the Roman empire began in 406 B. C. with the attack of Veii, there was not a true injection of country traditions until later in history and ending in the 12th century.

This spread of the empire is where the spread of the Latin language took place and the spread of the vernacular language. To start, what is vernacular language? According to the free dictionary (n. d. ), vernacular is defined as the standard native language or a country or locality. The everyday language spoken by a people as distinguished from the literary language or a variety of such everyday language specific to a social group or region. Note that this term originates from Latin vernaculus. Even some of our definitions of words come from Latin.

As we progress through this report, we are now starting to see how much of an impact this language had on society. The Roman Empire was vast and their reign over a large portion of the world lasted for many years. As they conquered nations, their traditions slowly became the traditions of that native land. Most of their reign covered Europe as we know it today and spanned hundreds of years. With the spread of a nation, comes the spread of their culture as well. Language is the oldest form of expression within a culture and passing this on either through force or assimilation has a lasting impact on those involved.

The Latin language has survived in one form or another for over 2,000 years. It is the parent language of many modern day languages such as Italian, French, Romanian, Portuguese, and the Spanish language. As it was already noted earlier in this paper, even words in the English language have roots that can be traced back to the Latin language. One of the main reasons that the Latin language was so prominent is the fact that it is a form of communication. Culture does not spread without communication. Without communication, we cannot pass on knowledge or exchange ideas amongst each other.

If we did not have communication, we would not be the culture that we are today. To say that the Roman Empire had an impact on the entire world is making a very moderate statement. The Roman Empire has had influences in all of society and include areas such as poetry, music, the arts, and architecture as well as language. While most people associate the Empire with a lot of the aforementioned, none of it would have been possible without the Latin language. Again, we are pointed back to the ability to communicate with others and to be able to pass on knowledge.

It does not matter how advanced a culture is or may appear to be if they have no ability to pass any of this on to another culture. Not only does it allow the passing of knowledge, it also accomplishes one other hurdle in terms of the world and the growth of the world. With different languages and having nobody be able to communicate, we would never be able to come to a form of peace. Having the ability to relate to others in different parts of the world allow us to relay intentions, be it for good or other purposes.

Without this communication, most wars may have ended in the complete annihilation of countries instead of peace or some form of agreement between the two nations that were at war. The last section to discuss today is the lasting impact that the vernacular languages had on our society. What are some examples of this? Look around and you can easily see them if you know what you are looking for. Let’s begin with the author of this paper and continue from there. The author has had his name passed on from generation to generation. While the use of his name stopped for a while, it was started again with his great grandfather.

Passing this down, the use of Latin numbers, or more commonly known as Roman numerals, is used to dictate which number of that name he is. For the author, he is the fourth consecutively named son and as such, after his last name is IV to represent the fourth. Look at dictionaries when researching words and you will also notice that these words have root definitions to them. An excellent example of the use of Latin is in scientific studies. Genus, phylum, etc. all come from Latin origins. The last one to mention that still has Latin roots is the naming of the NFL Superbowl games using the Latin numbering system.

In closing, the Latin language and the vernacular language has had a lasting impact on society and will continue to have this impact. It is a part of almost every culture today in some form. Without this vernacular language, society would not be where we are today. References Latin Language Blog (2010, March 24). Latin Numbers 1-100 | Latin Language Blog. Transparent. com Blogs. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://blogs. transparent. com/latin/latin-numbers-1-100/ Map of The Roman Empire. (n. d. ). Global Ministries – The United Methodist Church – General Board of Global Ministries.

Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://gbgm-umc. org/umw/corinthians/empire. stm Matthews, J. (2007, October). Beginnings of Vernacular. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://ac-support. europe. umuc. edu/~jmatthew/naples/vernacular. htm Pulju, T. (n. d. ). History of Latin. Rice University — Web Services. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://www. ruf. rice. edu/~kemmer/Words04/structure/latin. html The History Channel (n. d. ). Timeline – Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire on History. History: Shows, Schedules and Resources. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://www. history. o. uk/shows/rome-rise-and-fall-of-an-empire/season-1/timeline. html TheFREEdictionary. com (n. d. ). Vernacular languages – definition of Vernacular languages by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. In Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus – The Free Dictionary. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://www. thefreedictionary. com/Vernacular+languages University of Calgary (1996, August). First Europe Tutorial – Latin and Vernaculars. Home | University of Calgary. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://www. ucalgary. ca/applied_history/tutor/firsteuro/lang. html

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Metaphysical Language: Does it have any Meaning?

When we speak of something as metaphysical, we speak of something that is usually characterized as supernatural or something that is not perceptible by our senses.  When we talk about the things that our minds’ eyes see and not the things that our physical eyes see, we are talking in the language that is metaphysical.

This is one of the things that the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein looks into in his book Tractatus Logico Philosophicus.  Wittgenstein argues that metaphysical language does not have any meaning.  They are as good as words that do not signify anything.  He even contends that the metaphysical statements should not be said:

The right method in philosophy would be this. To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. ,the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given a meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would not be satisfying to the other –he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy—but it would be the only strictly correct method. … Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. (Wittgenstein, 6.53-7)

This does not mean that metaphysical propositions are all automatically false.  What Wittgenstein means is that it is beyond the realm of logic for us to understand metaphysical language.  This is not because they are profound or beyond our reality or beyond our senses but because, for Wittgenstein, they have no sense.

To illuminate, let us take for example this scenario.  I saw a huge Blue Heron flying in front of me and the next day, my neighbor won the lottery.  Another day, I saw a Blue Heron again and two days after that, an accident happened in front of my house.  Now, I see a Blue Heron the third time and I conclude that the Blue Heron is a sign of something will happen.  Nobody knows what will happen but I am sure that the sign means that something will happen because I see it in my mind’s eyes, my soul.  My metaphysical statement is that the Blue Heron is a sign that things will happen.  It is like saying that when we see a black cat, bad things will happen to us.

For Wittgenstein, it does not have any sense to say that a situation is a result of my perception of a Blue Heron or a bad luck is the result of my seeing a black cat.  He says that sentences like these work like a picture.  Since it is very difficult to explain, let me explain it through an example.  A map of the United States, for example, is a picture that points to the land of the United States.  The map shows that New York is more or less in the Eastern side of the map and Washington is in the Western side of the map.

If we are in the Central part of the United States and we want to go to Seattle, we will fly eastward.  We will not fly westward because the map which pictures for us the location of Seattle tells us that Seattle lies east of the United States.   This is what Wittgenstein means when he says that “there must be something identical in a picture and what it depicts” (Wittgenstein 2.161).  The map mimics the way reality is structured.  It mimics the way the real locations in the US are placed beside each other.

Language works like a picture.  It tells us what the situation is.  Wittgenstein says, “We picture facts to ourselves” (2.1).  For him, the meaning of a statement is whatever it pictures.  The meaning of the statement tells the situation of the world but like the picture, it can not tell us if it is actually true of false.  When we make a statement for example and we feel that it is meaningful, what the sentence is doing is that it is just pointing to a possible situation in the reality but it may be true or false.

When we say, for example that a Blue Heron causes things to happen like it is the cause of our neighbor’s winning in the lottery or accident, the statement’s meaning pictures to us situations that can be true but we cannot be really sure because there is nothing in the sentence that makes it true.  Wittgenstein says, “In order to tell whether a picture is true or false we must compare it with reality” (Wittgenstein, 2.223).

If we apply this with the statement, “The Blue Heron causes things to happen, things like winning a lottery or being the cause of people’s car accident”.  A Blue Heron is a big bird that lazes around the shallow part of water.  By definition, it has wings.  It can fly.  It has a beak, it can catch fish.  It can walk for a few steps.  It can swim.  These are the capabilities of a Blue Heron.  In reality, nothing in its definition or physical make-up can tell us that it can make a man win a lottery or be in a car accident.

So the statement that “The Blue Heron causes things to happen, things like winning a lottery or being the cause of people’s car accident” does not have any sense.  As Wittgenstein says, “There is no compulsion making on thing happen because another has happened.  The only necessity that exists is logical necessity” (Wittegenstein 6.37).  We can understand the statement but it is nonsensical if we analyze it following Wittgenstein.

In the same way, Wittgenstein would say that it does not have any sense to talk about a ‘soul’ or ‘a good life’.  We do not know what a soul is.  Nobody has seen a soul.  Nobody has reported that he or she sees a soul getting out of the body of a person who has just died.  We cannot find a correspondence for the world ‘soul’ in reality.  We have a sign for soul but we do not have a referent for the sign.

When somebody dies and we say that he/she has lived a ‘good life’, it is also nonsensical.  What is a good life to one is not automatically the good life to another.  There is no single referent for what the sign ‘good life’.  It is also nonsensical when people at the funeral say about the dead person that lives were changed because of him.  Again, value statements like these are subjective and are not verifiable.  How can this statement be analyzed if there nothing that can be the referent for the sign.  The referent has died.  For Wittgenstein says, “The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man. . .  Soo too at death the world does not alter, but comes to an end” (Wittgenstein 6.43-6.431).



Free Essays

Brief History of the English Language

Brief History of the English Language OLD ENGLISH 5th Century —three Germanic tribes —-the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes arrived in the British Isles. The Angles were named from ENGLE, their land of origin. Their language was called ENGLISC from which the word, English is derived. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes became known as the Anglo-Saxons. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes became known as the Anglo-Saxons. Some words such as church, bishop, baptism, monk, eucharis, and presbyter came indirectly through Latin and Greek.

The VIKINGS, also known as Norsemen, invaded England by the 8th century , which in turn, gave English a Norwegian and Danish influence. MIDDLE ENGLISH When William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England, he became its king. French became the language of the court, administration, and culture. It was the language used in schools. The English language became mostly the language of the uneducated classes and was considered a vulgar tongue.

Similar article: Failure in English Language

Most of the English words rooted in French are words that have something to do with power, such as crown, castle, parliament, army, mansion, gown, banquet, art, poet, romance, duke, servant, peasant, traitor, and governor. MODERN ENGLISH Modern English developed after Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in Germany around 1450 and William Caxton established England’s first printing press at Westminster abbey in 1476.

Printing also brought standardization of English. Between the 18th to 20th centuries, the English language continued to change as the British Empire moved across the world—- to the USA, Australia, New Zealand, India, Asia, and Africa. American and British variants are the INTERNATIONALLY accepted variants of the English language. Differences of AE and BE Spelling center—– centre program— programme color—— colour

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My Own Exprerience in English Language

Second language is known as the language that we learn after our mother tongue. It is the secondary option of the individual. People learn second language for multiple purposes; to communicate with people of different ethnic, to get job, to feel easy to live in strange country or environment, to learn foreign culture and lifestyle etc. As it is very important to know or speak the language of the place where we live. However, my second language –English is the most the most difficult to learn in a short period of time.

The learning second language is much interesting and challenging, and also make more experience if we have good group discussion and talk with the teacher about own experience and problems. I moved to an environment that was totally different from the one I came from. I knew that this would be my biggest hurdle I would have to overcome. I sat in back of the class room and felt shy to speak with friends and teacher because I can’t frame a good sentence to express my problem.

But teacher help me in each and every step of my problems that I faced. In middle of the semester, I understand more English and I started asking question regarding my problems to my teacher; the problems were solve in clear and effective way and I handle easily. I came to know while I learn English everything will be possible and easy if we keep on working with full of interest. In my experience one of the best ways to learning is writing in blog and read loudly.

I am not really good writer and reader because I speak and think in Nepali. When I have a problem I talk and discuss with friends and teacher to know the correct answer and when I know the answer I keep on working on it for my experience in future. In addition, Group discussion became good source to learn lots of different idea to express the thought. I am very much sure if we give full concentration with interest on it we can definitely, learn lots of vocabulary and become a good writer and speaker.

However, the teacher chosen the topic was so interesting and funny. The topic was to express my own experience and opinion towards the environment where I had grown up. It was more interesting to write in Nepali but it was so hard to express the feeling in English. I work in listening text and write down the vocabulary word which I heard in every single day. I believed that, the way of learning English language just to write and read loud. The way I make my language better is just keep on practicing lots.

I realize that I am the one decide how my language will turn out in the future. The doors finally opened for me, but it took effort. Life was complicated during the transition stage when I was learning to accustom myself to a new language. Moreover, my classes were challenging in various fields like group discussions, homework, listening and writing. I studied online, extra time out of college, and finally I am feeling easy to interact with different American People, learn their culture and life styles.

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Teaching Pragmatics

Teaching Pragmatics explores the teaching of pragmatics through lessons and activities created by teachers of English as a second and foreign language. This book is written for teachers by teachers. Our teacher-contributors teach in seven different countries and are both native-speakers and nonnative speakers of English. Activities reflect ESL and EFL classroom settings. The chapters included here allow teachers to see how other teachers approach the teaching of pragmatics and to appreciate the diversity and creativity of their endeavors. Taken together, the activities constitute a spectrum of possibilities for teaching pragmatics.

Each submission provides novel insight into the ESL/EFL classroom and demonstrates that there is no single approach to the teaching of pragmatics. The variety of approaches means that pragmatics can be integrated easily into any classroom, whether traditional or communicative. What is pragmatics? The study of pragmatics explores the ability of language users to match utterances with contexts in which they are appropriate; in Stalnaker’s words, pragmatics is “the study of linguistic acts and the contexts in which they are performed” (1972, p. 383).

The teaching of pragmatics aims to facilitate the learners’ ability to find socially appropriate language for the situations they encounter. Within second language studies and teaching, pragmatics encompasses speech acts, conversational structure, conversational implicature, conversational management, discourse organization, and sociolinguistic aspects of language use, such as choice of address forms. These areas of language and language use have not traditionally been addressed in language teaching curricula, leading one of our students to ask if we could teach him “the secret rules of English.

Pragmatic rules for language use are often subconscious, and even native speakers are often unaware of pragmatic rules until they are broken (and feelings are hurt, offense is taken, or things just seem a bit odd). Neither does pragmatics receive the attention in language teacher education programs that other areas of language do. Nevertheless, rules of language use do not have to be “secret rules” for learners or teachers. A growing number of studies describe language use in a variety of English-speaking communities, and these studies have yielded important information for teaching.

From the teacher’s perspective, the observation of how speakers do things with words has demystified the pragmatic process at least to the point where we can provide responsible, concrete lessons and activities to language learners. We are in the position to give assurance that they can learn pragmatics in their second or foreign language and be “in the club” of English speakers. Teachers can successfully decode the apparently secret rules for classroom learners. Why teach pragmatics in language classes?

We advocate teaching pragmatics because, quite simply, observation of language learners shows there is a demonstrated need for it, and instruction in pragmatics can be successful. Learners show significant differences from native speakers in language use; the execution and comprehension of certain speech acts; conversational functions, such as greetings and leave takings; and conversational management, such as back channeling and short responses. (See, for example, Bardovi-Harlig, 1996, 1999, 2001; Kasper & Schmidt, 1996; Kasper & Rose, 1999.

Without instruction, differences in pragmatics show up in the English of learners regardless of their first language background or language proficiency. That is to say, a learner of high grammatical proficiency will not necessarily show equivalent pragmatic development. As a result, learners at the higher levels of grammatical proficiency often show a wide range of pragmatic competence. Thus, we find that even advanced nonnative speakers are neither uniformly successful, nor uniformly unsuccessful, but the range is quite wide.

The consequences of pragmatic differences, unlike the case of grammatical errors, are often interpreted on a social or personal level rather than as a result of the language learning process. Being outside the range of language use allowed in a language or making a pragmatic mistake may have various consequences. As the teachers contributing to this volume point out, a pragmatic error may hinder good communication between speakers (Takenoya), may make the speaker appear abrupt or brusque in social interactions (Lee), or may make the speaker appear rude or uncaring (Yates).

Gallow points out that maintaining a conversation in English requires underlying knowledge of responses that prompt a speaker to continue, show understanding, give support, indicate agreement, show strong emotional response, add or correct a speaker’s information, or ask for more information. Berry discusses the importance of learning how to take turns and demonstrates that listening behaviors that are polite in one language may not be polite or recognizable in another. Unintentional insult to interlocutors (Mach & Ridder) and denial of requests (Weasenforth) have been identified as other potential pragmatic hazards.

Left to their own devices with respect to contact with the target language in and out of the classroom, the majority of learners apparently do not acquire the pragmatics of the target language on their own (Bouton, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, Bardovi-Harlig, 2001; Kasper, 2001). What makes pragmatics “secret” seems to be in some cases insufficient specific input and in others insufficient interpretation of language use. Language classrooms are especially well suited to provide input and interpretation. Instruction addresses the input problem by making language available to learners for observation.

Some speech acts, such as invitations, refusals, and apologies often take place between individuals, so learners might not have the opportunity to observe such language without being directly involved in the conversation. Some speech events, such as office hours and advising sessions, are generally not observed by a third party, but closed events need not be as private as going to the doctor, as one of our graduate students pointed out: A person might want to know the conventions for talking to a hair stylist in a second language, something equally difficult to observe!

The second problem of input that instruction addresses is salience. Some necessary features of language and language use are quite subtle and not immediately noticeable by learners, such as the turns that occur before speakers actually say “goodbye” and the noises they make when encouraging other speakers to continue their turns. Differences in making requests, such as by saying “Can I? ” (speaker-oriented) instead of “Can you? ” (hearer-oriented) might not be immediately salient to learners. By highlighting features of language and language use, instruction can inform the learner.

Finally, the classroom is the ideal place in which to help learners interpret language use. Instruction can help learners understand when and why certain linguistic practices take place. It can help learners to better comprehend what they hear (“What does this formula mean? “) and to better interpret it (“How is this used? ” “What does a speaker who says this hope to accomplish? “). A classroom discussion of pragmatics is also a good place to explore prior impressions of speakers. For example, Americans are often thought of as being very direct.

As Howard reports, her learners often tell her that “you don’t have to be polite in English. ” Instruction provides the opportunity to discuss the absence of some types of politeness markers in English and the presence and function of others that may not be immediately recognizable to learners. As discussed above, the need for pragmatics instruction is fairly easy to document. Recent studies suggest instruction benefits pragmatic development, both in production and comprehension. (For overviews see Kasper, 1997a, and 2001. For a collection of studies see Rose & Kasper, 2001.

For individual studies see Bouton, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994). What are the goals of teaching pragmatics? What are the ultimate benefits to learners? The chief goal of instruction in pragmatics is to raise learners’ pragmatic awareness and give them choices about their interactions in the target language. The goal of instruction in pragmatics is not to insist on conformity to a particular target-language norm, but rather to help learners become familiar with the range of pragmatic devices and practices in the target language.

With such instruction, learners can maintain their own cultural identities (Kondo), participate more fully in target language communication, and gain control of the force and outcome of their contributions. Kondo notes that “successful communication is a result of optimal rather than total convergence” (Giles, Coupland, & Coupland, 1991). Expanding upon this view, the authors included in this volume point out that exposing learners to pragmatics in their second or foreign language helps the learners to expand their perception of the target language and those who speak it..

The classroom provides a safe place within which learners can try out new forms and patterns of communication in an accepting environment. They can experiment with unfamiliar forms of address, attempt shorter conversational openings or closings than they are used to, or try longer openings or closings that initially might feel too drawn out-just to get the feel of it. The instructor and other student participants can provide feedback. Instruction should allow students to choose how much of the pragmatic norms of the culture they would like to include in their own repertoire.

As a result of the activities suggested in this book they will be better able to interpret the speech of others and, therefore, to decide what they feel comfortable adopting. They will also enjoy greater insights into the target culture. Equally important, we believe that students genuinely enjoy learning about pragmatics because it is like being let into a secret! How can pragmatics be taught? We emphasize that there is not a single best way to teach pragmatics. The teaching activities we have included here represent a wide range of teaching styles and approaches.

Regardless of method, however, the activities share some important pedagogical practices. Readers will find that 1) awareness activities generally begin the units described in the chapters, 2) authentic language samples are used as examples or models, and 3) input precedes interpretation by learners or production activities. Instruction in pragmatics may utilize the learners’ first language as well as the target language. Awareness raising activities can profitably involve demonstrations in the L1 or L1 language samples.

Demonstrations may include the use of space, such as where people stand in a line, or nonverbal gestures that accompany certain types of talk, such as shaking hands during greetings or introductions. In Berry’s lesson on listening behaviors, students demonstrate active listening behavior in their own language(s) before observing native speakers. L1 language samples can serve to introduce learners to ideas in pragmatics in a context in which they have native control of the language.

The samples can also serve as the basis of L1-L2 comparisons, as in Howard’s lesson on politeness in which L1 and L2 business letters are compared. All languages have pragmatic systems, and with a little encouragement all learners will recognize that their L1s also have “secret rules. ” Pragmatics is an area of language instruction in which teachers and students can learn together. The use of authentic language samples in this volume is important because, as Wolfson (1988) points out, in contrast to intuitions about language form or grammar, the intuitions of native speakers regarding language use are notoriously poor.

Moreover, the use of authentic language included herein makes possible the teaching of pragmatics by nonnative speakers of English. Throughout this volume, the teacher-authors demonstrate many ways to collect authentic language samples on which to base lessons, including -to name just a few- tape recording messages on answering machines, using internationally broadcast English language talk shows, showing educational films, exploring appropriate world wide web sites; and saving letters and correspondence.

The presentation of authentic language samples generally precedes interpretation or production activities, thus giving learners something to build on. It is important to take into account the fact that, just as teachers cannot rely on their intuition in teaching pragmatics, neither can learners do so in their second/foreign language prior to instruction. Pragmatics can be integrated into the English-language curriculum at the earliest levels: There is no reason to wait to introduce learners to the pragmatics of a second language.

In fact, the imbalance between grammatical and pragmatic development may be ameliorated by early attention to pragmatics in instruction. Kontra’s lesson shows how pragmatics can be introduced to learners even at beginning levels. Contents and organization Each chapter has five main sections: description of the activity, procedure, rationale, alternatives or caveats, and additional pedagogical resources. The chapters specify the level of the learners for whom the lesson was designed, the time required to conduct the lesson, resources needed, and the goal of the activity.

The chapters open with a description of the activity, followed by the step-by-step procedure for implementing it with language learners. In the rationale sections, teacher-authors review the reasons behind the development of the activities. Applications of the activities to other learners, settings, modes, or areas of pragmatics; ways to expand or elaborate the activities; and caveats associated with the activities are all included. Examples appear throughout the chapters, with worksheets and overheads following the chapters.

This book is organized into five main sections. The chapters in each section are ordered according to the level of the learners for whom the lesson was designed, beginning with activities for the lowest level learners and progressing to advanced learners. The first section, Awareness, presents teaching activities that focus on raising learners’ awareness of pragmatic differences between languages. The sections following Awareness offer production activities.

The activities that focus on production are organized by the area of pragmatics they address: conversational management, conversational openings and closings, requests, and daily life. Conversational Management includes activities that address the mechanics of conversation, such as turn taking, active listening, relevant short responses, and using hesitation markers. Conversational Openings and Closings deals with the boundaries of conversations: how to begin and end conversations both in person and on the telephone.

Requests deals with the specific speech act of asking someone to do something. Finally, Assorted Speech Acts presents a variety of speech acts, including complaining during service encounters, turning down invitations, complimenting, and responding to compliments. Finally, the book has an index designed to help teachers find activities appropriate for their students. To make this easier, the index is organized around major features, such as level of learners, type and content of activity, computer use, and nonverbal communication.

Free Essays

Why Is Listening the Most Difficult English Skill to Master

In the languages that exist in the world, English is the most used, but not for being the most used, is the easiest of all. For example, a person living in the United States don’t speak like one living in Europe, why?, because in every country there are different idioms that people speak, so why people from different countries, that speak English, don’t understand between them well?, the answer is because they listen in a different way what the other tell them. There are different ways to listen a person speech, but are all the ways correct or are wrong? perhaps this topic doesn’t have a correct or a wrong way to be developed, because every person have their own listening strategies to understand what others want to tell them.

The challenges that every person have when listening are: 1.New vocabulary: because if you don’t know a word that someone tell you, and you cant relate it with another one, you get stuck, and you lose the rest of the idea because you stop thinking about that NEW word. 2.Accents / dialects: there’s a lot of difference speaking with a person of your same country, than speaking with a foreign person, why?, it’s so simple, because they have different accent or dialect, so they pronounce a lot different the words, so if they are saying a simple sentence, it becomes a difficult one, cause you won’t understand them quite well and there will be some troubles with the communication. 3.Speech speed: there’s a lot of difference between a person that speaks slow, than other one that speaks fast, even if you are used to listen a lot, it’s difficult to have a conversation with a person that speaks really fast.

There are a lot of challenges that a person have when listening, but also there are a lot of strategies to understand better and get all the idea that the other person want to transmit like: 1.Repeat: always there will be an idea that you won’t understand, so is important that if you don’t get one thing, ask if they can repeat, so you can clarify that idea and understand the whole idea that was exposed. 2.Read first: is always smart to read before the speech begins, if you know about the topic that will be exposed, it will be easier to understand it. 3.Pay Attention: it is always important that if you are listening, you have to put attention to the speaker, but there will be moments that you will have to put all of your attention in the speech, like in the introduction and in the conclusion, to get the idea of what they are talking about.

What I have wrote is only a little part of some challenges and strategies about listening that we will encounter in our life, personally I always have to put attention to what they are speaking, so I can get the idea and also I have to know something before the speech, so I can relate what the speaker is telling us, to what I have read, so is easier to get the idea and understand better, there are a lot of strategies to improve the listening skill, so what is your strategy?

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The Brain and Language, Personal Memory, and Self-Awareness

Sahan Ratnayake Development of Language and its influence on self-awarness, personal memory, and higher emotion. Language is defined as the system of linguistic signs or symbols considered in the abstract. Language is purely a human concept. Though it is used by many animals on the planet, no other animal uses language to the extent or complexity as humans do. This is in part to the larger brain size of humans as opposed to animals. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a brain size of around 400cc, while humans have a brain that weighs around 1300cc.

This larger brain, as allowed humans to use language more efficiently to achieve its goals. With the development of language rose the characteristics that make us human: self-awareness, higher emotion, and personal memory. Though it is impossible to determine when language arose, it has been theorized that the growth of language coincided with the increase in brain volume. The brain is the control system of the body. All aspects of human behavior, language, reflexes, emotions, memory, are controlled by separate structure of the brain.

Within these structures are billions of neurons, specialized cells that transmit information throughout the brain in the form of electrical signals. The brain is split into two hemispheres, the left hemisphere controlling the activities of the right side, and the right hemisphere controlling the activities of the left side. Regarding language, it was discovered that the left hemisphere of the brain is largely responsible for controlling language. More specifically, the outer surface of the central hemisphere, the cortex, is regarded as the center of human speech and language processing.

Two structure of the cortex, Broca’s and Wernicke’s are responsible for speech production and understanding of written and spoken language, respectively. The development of language isn’t due solely to a larger brain, but also to genes and the physiological anatomy of humans. In the 1990s, geneticists discovered the FOXP2 gene. The FOXP2 gene is used for proper brain and lung development. Upon testing the gene, geneticists discovered that mutation to the FOXP2 gene caused severe speech and language disorder, leading scientists to conclude that the gene is essential in speech and language production.

The physical anatomy of humans is also a major component in producing speech and language. These speech organs are the lungs, the voice box, the throat, the mouth, and the nose. Speech is an air pressure that travels from the speaker to the listener. The lungs produce the air pressure for speech while the rest of the speech organs shape this air pressure to create the final sounds that reach the listener’s ears. For years, scientists have tried to explain the origin of language.

Though several theories have been put forth to explain the origin of language, there is no evidence to support any of them. Some scientists have theorized that language is so complex that it cannot exists in the form modern humans use today but must have evolved from our human ancestors. This theories are called continuity-based theories. There are other scientists that argue that human language is unique to humans, leading to the lack of evidence for its existence, and that it suddenly appeared in the evolution from early human ancestors to the humans that we are today.

Yet there are other scientist that argue that language is embedded in the human genetic code, and others who see language is cultural, learned through social interaction. Though no solid evidence for any of these theories can be found in the early human ancestors, it is fairly certain that the earliest human ancestors to use language were Homo heidelbergensis, thought to be the common ancestor between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens. Recent archaeological finds have shown that H. heidelbergensis had an ear structure similar to that of H. apiens, which means that they could pick up the same sound frequencies modern humans could. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean they used language to communicate with one another, it is proof that H. heidelbergensis did have a system of communication. With the development of language came the ability of humans to become self-aware. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize oneself as an individual that is separate from its environment and other individuals. Self-awareness isn’t possible without inner speech. It is inner speech that llows individuals to question the past, present, and future. It allows them to think about themselves and to evaluate their actions. Several experiments have shown that, when individuals were asked to talk to themselves or to participate in self-relevant tasks. While doing so, it was discovered that in most people the Broca’s area in the left hemisphere of the brain, showed activity. The Broca’s area on the left hemisphere is used for inner speech. People whose Broca’s area was damaged showed that they couldn’t talk to themselves and lost the process of self-awareness.

Regarding the self-aware and self-relevant tasks, fMRI scans have shown that the Broca’s area lights up. This proves that language is essential for the task of self- evaluation. Literature has also given many example of self-awareness and the development of language. In the Greek work, Illiad, that lack of subjectivity by the characters and their insistence on divine intervention suggests that the language areas of the brain weren’t as developed as they are now, causing them to credit the “gods” for their actions, good and bad.

However, in the Odyssey, the use of the pronoun “I” and Odysseus’s rebellion against the gods suggests that the Broca’s area is much more developed, thus a more developed self-awareness. Language is also responsible for the human trait of memory. Memory is defined as memory from episodes in one’s life. Personal memory is also referred to as personal event memory. Neurologically, memory is stored in the hippocampus and the amygdala. Studies have shown that the hippocampus become active during recollection of memories. The amygdala is used in the recollection of emotional memories.

Language is an essential part of recalling a memory. Experiments by Tessler and Nelson in 1993, where a child was asked to talk about a visit to a museum. It was discovered that the child couldn’t recall anything that wasn’t told to him by his mother. This suggests that language is a key component in recalling a memory. Several other experiments with different age groups have shown that older kids remember more than the younger children, which means that since the older kids have a broader vocabulary than the younger kids, the older participants are able to remember and recall a more vivid memory of a past event.

Language is also an essential part of the human trait of higher emotion. Higher emotion differs from emotion. Emotion, also known as basic emotions, stem from the mammalian brain of humans and the amygdala. Such emotions, for example fear, are necessary for survival. Higher emotions arise in the pre-frontal cortex, a relatively new part of the brain. Higher emotions such as love, are abstract emotion; they cannot be expressed using physical movement whereas fear, a basic emotion can be expressed using facial expressions or simulation.

Language is extremely important for the expression of higher emotions. Language allows humans to explain, as well as understand, higher emotions. Language is necessary for all human advancements. Humans have used language to a greater extent than do apes. Though the origin of language is uncertain, it is undisputed that our earlier ancestors, H. hidelbergensis, were able to communicate and language passed down from them to H. sapiens. Language has also allowed humans to become aware of themselves, to develop memory, and to have higher emotions, characteristics that make H. apiens unique. Works Cited 1. Plontke, Ronny. Language and Brain. N. p. , 13 Mar. 2003. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. 2. Rumbaugh, Sue Savage. “Human Language-Human Consciousness. ” A« On the Human. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 3. Morin, Alan. “Language and Self-awareness. ” Science & Consciousness Review. N. p. , 2 Aug. 2007. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 4. Morin, Alan. “Inner Speech and Conscious Experience. ” Science & Consciousness Review. N. p. , 20 Apr. 2003. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. . 5. “Speech Anatomy. ” Speech Anatomy. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28 Oct. 012. . 6. “Language. ” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 7. “Rebecca’s Dystopia. ” : The Link Between Memory and Language. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 8. “Neanderthal Behavior. ” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 9. “FOXP2. ” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 10. “Language and Emotion. ” Language and Emotion. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. . 11. “Personal Event Memory. ” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 27 Oct.

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The Reasons Why the World’s Languages Are Disappearing

The reasons why the world’s languages are disappearing Language is everything; because language is a part of culture which is inseparable with human’s life. People speak by their language regardless of what language they use. There are more than 60. 000 languages which do exist in the world; but unfortunately nowadays every fortnight, a language dies; more than half of the world’s languages are in danger; and by the end of this century it is going to disappear completely. The pace of the languages extinctions are faster than the extinction of flora and fauna.

The proof is in the last 5 centuries, an estimated half of the world’s languages have become extinct; but now language does not even need much longer period to become extinct; a century and it will be done. The primary reason as to why the world’s languages are disappearing is it has no longer speakers. Research proved that for the minor language, only a few people speak. Ironically, what research means by minor is the local languages; in fact there are much more languages that is considered as minor or local rather than the major. It means that there are lots of languages which potentially extinct.

Next, the second reason is the languages are considered old-fashioned. Moreover, some societies are surrounded by people who speak more common language. Therefore, those societies decide to leave their mother tongue because it is some kind of disgrace of still speaking it in the middle of the society who speak more modern languages. The third one, it is because of natural disaster. It just disappeared instantly. People died and also the language. Therefore there is nobody who can spread the language; because they themselves as the native speakers died.

Reason number four is because of the complexity. People hate learning a difficult language; lots of minor and local languages have a high complexity as of finally people do not want to learn it and by doing so, they do not speak it. Finally, there are 4 reasons why lots languages died out. All of them are the basic reasons; but not only human who has contributed to the disappearing but also the nature. Therefore to stop the disappearing, there must be something that we are suppose to do; such as try to learn the local language, learn to be proud of it and learn to keep it all the time.

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Influences of Language on Meaning and Perception

Language is the main communication tool which influences meaning and perception. Language can be verbal (sounds, words) and non-verbal (signs, gestures, mimic, facial expression, behavior, and physical setting, etc). Interpersonal communication includes any behavior that another person perceives and interprets. As such, it is one person’s understanding of what another person means. Behavior itself is a form of communication.

Interpersonal communication occurs through symbols and signs decoded by the sender and encoded by the receiver. Using language (verbal), people name and describe objects, events and processes. Clarity and precision of presentation have a great impact on meaning and perception processes. The main problem is that the receiver can ‘encode’ the information differently which influences his perception and meaning of the message (Wood, 2003).

So although it is true that names must precede descriptions in the sense that they provide the atomic terms of a description, it is also true that some (possibly holophrastic) ostensive assertions must be primitive in all category naming (Guerrero 1999). Verbal communication means sending messages to another person to inform about something, to persuade people to do something, to develop positive attitudes, and to cause other changes in people’s thinking and behavior. Following Russell (2000) one interpretation of perception:

“focuses on attending and concentrates on surveying the environment. Another focuses on interpretation and concentrates on language and mental activity after initial contact with stimuli. Viewing perception as an attending process and as an outcome of attending can both serve well” (4)

The speech sounds of a language vary in many ways. Only some of these differences signal a difference in meaning in the language. These are called “phonemic” differences. The rest of the differences are “phonetic” differences that are less salient, less readily perceived, and less easily produced than the phonemic differences. In this case, if a person has poor articulation or speech defects the receiver can encode information is a wrong way and misinterpret the meaning. It is important that every person remember that specific words may not have the same meaning and significance for different people.

The choice of words and vocabulary is one type of symbol that possesses emotional and psychological properties. It is possible to say that language shapes the meaning and allows the receiver to perceive its meaning. A unique pattern of language comes to be regarded as equivalent to a unique pattern in the receiver mind. Meaning and perception depends upon experience and views of the receiver and differs in what is perceived and how information is stored, and because the nature of the mapping may differ for “different types of cross-modal linkages” (Guerrero 1999, p. 56).

I suppose that my language is clearly understood because I carefully chose vocabulary and meaning of words. Active listening helps me to learn new words and understand their usage correctly. So, it is possible to say that if a person wishes to communicate effectively with other people (verbally or non-verbally), he must somehow put themselves in each other’s shoes. Effective interpersonal communication requires that people have a common set of meanings and definitions.

Such a common set of meanings derives not only from the language, but refers more broadly to the pattern of beliefs, codes, and feelings on the basis of which people learn to live with their environment. To enlarge my vocabulary I read a lot of printed matters: books, magazines, scientific article, etc, and use new words and phrases in practice. For instance, non-fiction writing has ideas followed by arguments, by examples, before returning to a second argument. Seeing the structure of paragraphs is to see the pattern of the argument. This technique will help me to create a clear message and communicate with different people. One more important fact is that mass media is intended to be an example of language norms: vocabulary and grammar.


1.Guerrero, L. K. et al. (1999). The Nonverbal Communication Reader: Classic and Conteporary Readings. Waveland Press.

2.Russell, Ch. (2000). CULTURE, LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIOR: Perception. A Review of General Semantics, 57, 4.

3.Wood, J.T. (2003). Interpersonal Communications. Wadsworth Publishing.








Free Essays

Acquiring the Human Language-Playing the Language Game

1.What arguments in support of language as an innate ability are brought up in the film?

This video is about a great mystery; how do children acquire language without seeming to learn it and how do they do so many things with so little life experience.

2.Explain the ambiguity of the question asked by Jill de Villiers to both children and graduate students: “When did the boy say he hurt himself?” Why is this question ambiguous and why is it interesting to note that this question is ambiguous?

Question was “When did the boy say he hurt himself?” and there are 2 answers to this question. If focus on When said, the answer is “in the bathtub.” However when it focus on When fallen, the answer is “climbing the tree” And it is very interesting because they found that children will give only 1 answer when given unambiguous sentence “When did the boy say HOW he hurt himself”, “in the bathtub.” By this experiment, we can conclude that a child must have some kind of knowledge of syntactic structure because nobody had ever taught the child about this.

3.List some of the fundamental questions regarding language learning/language acquisition that are discussed in the film and explain how are linguists trying to answer these questions. (What questions do linguists ask and what kind of evidence do they look for to answer them?) The original theory on how languages are learned was it is learned by imitation. However, linguists found that child not only imitate adult but produces brand-new sentences. And the fundamental questions were raised, if we don’t learn by imitation, how do we learn? So linguists try to prove that acquiring language is different from learning other things by some experiments.

4.Mention some of the evidence in the film presented as evidence AGAINST the imitation theory of language learning.

Child can produce brand-new sentence and they make errors. They can understand quite complex sentence in early age.

5.The film (Chomsky) claim that acquiring language is different from kinds of learning. What does he mean?

It means we seem to learn language with different say from leaning other difficult things such as playing the trumpet and riding bicycle. It is not learned by practice, or by imitation.

6.What proof is there that analogy is not the explanation for first language learning?

With the sentence “I painted the red barn”, we can substitute color word, and it is acceptable. If we switch the last two words, it is still acceptable. So by analogy, child will extend this to other verb “see” and create new sentence. “I saw a read barn.” And a concept of analogy doesn’t work for switching last two words, since I saw a bard red is broken sentence. And also, with sentence “Taro ate” it means he ate something but this something is not his shoes or hat. Another proof that analogy is not the explanation of first language learning is the verb “grow” can mean differently in the sentence such as “John grows tomatoes” and “John grows.” Analogy is wildly broken and cannot explain first language learning.

7.Observe the details of the experiment with the 16-month old babies who are shown Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Explain the experiment’s design, including the question posed by the researchers and the conclusions they reach regarding children’s acquisition of syntax based on the results of this study.

The experiment design is showing two films simultaneously to babies. And asks to find the same scene with the explanation, Cookie monster washing Big Bird and Big Bird feeding Cookie Monster. The questions behind the study was will the child look more at the screen that matches the language that they are hearing. And the result surprisingly show that they understand the order of the information.

8.An extended section of the film discusses how children learn new words. Explain the point(s) illustrated by the following examples: -The child who calls his own dog “Nunu”, then applies the word Nunu to several other things (another dog, cow, slippers, salad) : Overgeneralization – “The Gavagai Problem” (the big rabbit on a billboard) : Assumption

– Child labeling an item a flimmick, a closed flimmick and a spud : Child expects object labels to refer to the whole object – Children discussing the meaning of the word “alive” and the one child deciding that a car must be “alive” A child picks out a category that is relevantly alike

9. The film moves to Papua New Guinea (home of 750 languages spoken by 3,000,000 people) and discusses language universals and then Universal Grammar. -What aspects of language are candidates for language universals? Subject, Object, Verb

– What are examples are presented in the film as evidence of Universal Grammar? There are certain kinds of mistake that children never seem to make. (ex. What did you eat your egg and?)

10. Explain what Chomsky means when he says that “all children are pre-programmed in advance of experience; they know fixed, invariant structural principles of language”.

Capacity to learn language is deeply engraved in the mind and children are not taught language, they just do it.

Free Essays

The Official Language of the United States

Do you know what the official language of the United States is? If you answered English, guess again. But don’t feel bad, the vast majority of people would answer that English is the official language of the United States of America. English is the de facto language since, at this point, it is the most widely spoken language in the nation. But Spanish is catching up millions Hispanics speaking their native language at home, at work, and on their daily lives.

This brings another point: Why is the U. S. an English-speaking country (or so you think), catering not only to the Spanish language, but to many others that you don’t even know about? Because the U. S. as a nation has never declared an official language. Many people have tried it with no success. In 1780, John Adams proposed to the Continental Congress that English should be declared the official language of the United States. His proposal was deemed “undemocratic and a threat to individual liberty. ” This type of debate has been going on for years, with people on both sides of the fence.

And yet, the issue isn’t any closer to a resolution than it was 200 years ago. This doesn’t mean that the individual states have not declared an official language because many already have. Twenty-seven states, to be exact, have officially declared English as their language. U. S. English . gov Let’s not forget that since 1776 we have been—and continue to be—a multilingual nation. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon to hear up to 20 different languages spoken in daily life. Today, those numbers are more staggering.

According to U. S. English Inc. an advocacy group that supports declaring English as our official language, 322 languages are spoken in the country, with 24 of those spoken in every state and the District of Columbia. California has the most languages, with 207, while Wyoming has the fewest with 56. So why won’t Congress declare an official language? Because we are a nation of immigrants and these numbers prove it. Because declaring an official language would abridge the rights of individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals who are paying taxes and who are entitled to the same rights as those who speak English.

To protect those rights, there is something called Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although twenty seven states have declared English as their official language, in order to receive federal financial assistance those states still have to comply with Title VI, which requires that vital materials be available in the language of everyone receiving benefits subsidized by the Federal Government. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 2000 Executive Order No. 3166 require that public entities receiving federal funds must have all vital documents available in every language that their clients speak; every language, not just Spanish.

Why? Because the U. S. has never declared an official language and as such, the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 still applies. Basically, Title VI was best described by President John F. Kennedy in 1963: “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination. ”

Free Essays

Language Development

Language both oral and written is of utmost importance to human kind. Language is how one communicates, and understands the world. If children are going to lean and communicate in society their development of a wide range of language competencies are essential to guarantee their success in a mixture of settings in their everyday routines. (Otto, 2010, p. 3).

The process of acquiring language begins before birth, but is moving at a more rapid pace and changing drastically in early childhood. Children in the early childhood stages of development are very social; they are asking many questions, enhancing their knowledge of language is essential for their learning in all aspects of development (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2008, p. 16).

Language development in early childhood is enhanced when educators present young children with curriculum content that supports language acquisition with the use developmentally appropriate methodologies in teaching language and literacy to young children across a developmental curriculum, and the use of adequate referral and intervention strategies for student with special learning needs related to language development. The curriculum content presented to preschool students is important to the acquisition of language in general.

When teaching students language skills the curriculum consists of teaching the child to read, write and speak well. This will require systematic work in several different areas, such as: phonemic awareness, semantic knowledge, syntactic knowledge, morphemic knowledge and pragmatic knowledge (Otto, 2010, p. 207). The curriculum for young children should consist of teaching how printed language works, recognizing and naming the letters in the alphabet, leaning letter sounds, as well as blending sounds.

Asking questions, describing events, developing vocabulary though conversations and experiences, and opportunities and materials that encourage discussions between students, other students and teachers, along with discussion for problem solving (Bennitt, 1999, pp. 114-115). The developmentally appropriate methodologies in teaching these language and literacy skills to young children consist of exploratory activities, teacher-guided activities, and routine activities (Otto, 2010, p. 208). Exploratory activities are independent activities that allow students a chance to explore ways of interacting with the materials provided.

For instance blocks and manipulative urge children to meet the language goals of describing and labeling what was built and how they built it, helping children to solve problems, and persuading them to ask questions, about what they are building and how it relates to real-life structures and events, using receptive and expressive language . Another exploratory activity is a drama corner, children in this environment talk in the roles they are playing using all five aspects of language knowledge.

The drama center also helps the understanding of written language when students are provided with pencil and paper to make grocery list, or write letters, or take orders in a restaurant. The book center is also a developmentally appropriate method of presenting language curriculum. In the book center students are encouraged to recreate, previously read stories using pictures and tell them to other students, enhancing both receptive and expressive language. The teacher should only be an observer in this setting as it is exploratory and not teacher guided (Otto, 2010, pp. 11-213).

Teacher guided activities also encourage language development, these are activities for a small or large group, but it is considered more developmentally appropriate to keep the large group activities to a minimum and use small groups more often to allow more opportunities for participation and a better view of illustrations or objects involved in the activity. Some of the teacher guided activities that encourage language development are show and tell, book time, oral storytelling and poetry and music time.

Show and tell encourages language development by increasing listening comprehension, vocabulary, and taking turns (Otto, 2010, p. 223). Show and tell also supports expressive phonetic knowledge, encouraging children that to speak at a volume with articulation for clear communication to the children they are speaking to. It encourages receptive semantic knowledge though hearing other children describe what they have brought, while expressive semantic knowledge is enhanced by the child describing what they have brought.

While pragmatic knowledge is encouraged though the learning of how to use language in this setting of sharing an object or event on interest (Otto, 2010, p. 223). Another teacher guided activity is on that increases interest in reading, increases understanding with written language, expands vocabulary development, and awakes of story structure; this activity is book sharing (Otto, 2010, p. 224). Children will gain knowledge in each aspect of language:

1. Pragmatic, diverse stories use language differently. . Phonetic knowledge, consciousness of the sound system of language. 3. Morphemic knowledge, receptive knowledge of how morphemes impact word meanings, 4. Semantic knowledge increased, through strong and diverse language in books, and pragmatic and syntactic knowledge, how thoughts are structured into sentences and phrases of book language or literate resister. Increasing this skill depends on the appropriate selection of books and the interaction strategies used doing the book sharing (Otto, 2010).

Free Essays

Theories of Language Evolution

ASSIGNMENTS B. Com General – 1st Semester Subject Name: Language – Functional English Subject code: BCC 101 Summer Drive 2012 4 credits (60 marks) (BKID: B1294) Set 1 1. What is the difference between the theories of language evolution? 1. 2. 3 Language evolution and memes It is possible to imagine numerous potential scenarios by which language might have evolved as a purely biological adaptation. However, Susan Blackmore, reveals a different theory of language evolution in her book The Meme Machine.

She proposes that it evolved for the sake of being a characteristic of a culture (memes), not as an adaptation for the benefit of genes. Susan says that memes first came into existence with the advent of true imitation in humans, which allowed the former to spread through populations. Recalling production of new copies or that fecundity is necessary for a replicator. She also said that the language came into existence to serve the purpose of being a mechanism for improving the fecundity of memes. Sound transmission has many advantages for the purpose – sounds can be heard by multiple listeners and can be used even at night.

After sound transmission (proto-language) came into existence, the “digitalization” of language into discrete words arose as a mechanism for ensuring meme fidelity, or lack of errors in the new copies. She explains that those alterations that produce the most copies of the highest fidelity will be those that predominate, thus improving the language. Blackmore goes on to suggest that grammar was an adaptation to improve the fecundity and fidelity of existing memes; its recursive structure then provided the framework for the development of more complex memes, which then favored the existence of more complex grammar, etc. n a self-sustaining process. Furthermore, language then began to exert pressure on the genes, creating a selection pressure toward bigger brains that are better at language. If people prefer to mate with those possessing the best or most memes, then the genes that allowed those people to be good meme-spreaders will be differentially transmitted into the next generation. This process again leads to a self-catalytic process of brain evolution that places a strong survival and reproductive advantage on those most capable of meme transmission.

Finally, Blackmore believes that language is an unavoidable result of the existence of memes, which follow naturally from the ability to imitate (an ability that is, surprisingly, realized in very few species). She states, “Verbal language is almost an inevitable result of memetic selection. First, sounds are a good candidate for high-fecundity transmission of behaviour. Second, words are an obvious way to digitise the process and so increase its fidelity. Third, grammar is a next step for increasing fidelity and fecundity yet again, and all of these will aid memorability and hence longevity”. 2.

What are the common mistakes done while writing declarative sentences? Give examples of each of them. 2. 5. 3 Statement A statement is also known by the name of a declarative sentence. This type of sentence simply states a fact, an argument or an idea, without requiring any answer or action from the reader. It does not give a command or request, nor does it ask a question. There are two types of statements, viz. 1. Unconditional statement 2. Conditional statement Let us understand both of them one by one. 1. Unconditional Statement: These are the statements without any condition in them. Example, a) Marina plays the piano. (b) I think you will pass. (c) I have forgotten his name. (d) She asked which drink I preferred. 2. Conditional Statement: These are the statements with a condition(s) in a clause accompanied by the main clause which shows the action. The conditional statements are of three types: (a) The open conditional statement. (b) The hypothetical conditional statement. (c) The unfulfilled hypothetical statement. Let us understand each of them one by one. (a) The open conditional statement: This type of statement generally refers to a future event which is conditional on another future event.

The verb of the conditional clause is in the simple present tense and the verb of the main clause is in the future tense (usually with “will”). Example, 1. If I sleep too much, my eyelids swell. 2. My eyelids swell if I sleep too much. 3. Only if the entire team works fast, we’ll finish the work today. 4. We will not finish the work today if the entire team does not work fast. 5. We will not finish the work today unless the entire team works fast. Occasionally, the open conditional statement describes a situation or an instance which is dependent on another instance (given in the conditional clause).

In this case, both verbs are in the present tense. Example, 1. If I sleep well at night, I feel much relaxed in the morning. 2. If it rains, I enjoy it a lot. Sometimes, „if? is replaced by „when?. „If? implies that the condition is really open and may not be fulfilled, while „when? implies that the condition will be fulfilled and event will certainly take place. Example, 1. I will sing when you dance. 2. I shall have my lunch when the bell rings. (b) The hypothetical conditional statement: The hypothetical conditional statement refers to a possible future situation which depends on another possible future situation.

The verb of the main clause uses the present conditional tense (would + infinitive, or could + infinitive) and the verb of the conditional clause normally uses the present subjunctive. Sometimes, the conditional aspect of the statement can be emphasized by using the form were + to + infinitive. Example, 1. If you slept well at night, you would be relaxed in the morning. 2. You would be relaxed in the morning if you slept well at night. 3. Only if the entire team worked fast, we could finish the work that day. 4. We would not finish the work that day if the entire team did not work fast. 5.

We would not finish the work that day unless the entire team worked fast. 6. If the entire team were to work fast, we could finish the work that day. Sometimes the statements use the open hypothetical form, though it is clearly quite impossible. In such cases, the main clause uses would/could+ verb form. Example, 1. If I were you, I would never go there. 2. My teacher told me that I would definitely improve my scores if I worked harder. (c) The unfulfilled hypothetical statement: The unfulfilled hypothetical statement refers to a situation which an event might have taken place, but did not, because a condition was not fulfilled.

The verb of the main clause goes 3. What do you mean by passive voice? 3. 2. 2 Passive voice The active voice is the “normal” voice. But sometimes we need the passive voice. The passive voice is less usual than the active voice. In this lesson we look at how to construct the passive voice, when to use it and how to blend it. The structure of the passive voice is very simple: subject + auxiliary verb (be) + main verb (past participle) The main verb is always in its past participle form. [pic] Though usually active voice is given preference over the others, it does not mean that passive voice should not be used.

But you should use it only in the following instances: • In order to intentionally make something true so as to minimize the guilt of the subject. For example, • A cheating wife might respond, “Yes, adultery was committed by me. ” • In order to intentionally hide the subject of the sentence. For example, • A political leader might say, “Mistakes were made. ” • In order to make passive voice better emphasize the main point of the passage. For example, Children were harmed by unlicensed cab drivers Note that we always use by to introduce the passive object (Fish are eaten by cats). The passive voice is less usual.

Look at this sentence: He was killed with a bullet. Normally we use by to introduce the passive object. But the bullet is not the active subject. The bullet did not kill him. He was killed by somebody with a bullet. In the active voice, it would be: Somebody killed him with a bullet. The bullet is the instrument. Somebody is the “agent” or “doer”. Conjugation for the passive voice Passive can be made in any tense. If we pay attention, we will find that the conjugation of verbs in the passive tense is rather easy, as the main verb is always in past participle form and the auxiliary verb is always be.

To form the required tense, we conjugate the auxiliary verb. So, for example: • Present simple: It is made. • Present continuous: It is being made. • Present perfect: It has been made. 4. 2 Concepts of Vocabulary Building Each of us stands testimony to the fact that it is an essential prerequisite to have a good vocabulary in order to communicate effectively. There are many ways to improve our vocabulary. Some of them are as under: 1. Flash Cards: Flash cards are an excellent method of reviewing both old and new vocabulary words.

Not only are they the best way to learn vocabulary, you may also use them in other ways. For example, key ideas may be written out and reviewed. In addition, declensions such as the article can be put on a card for easy reviewing. These types of cards will need to be larger than 2” x 4”. A full size index card would work for these purposes. Let us make a flash card now. (a) On the front of the flash card: Write a vocabulary word, and only the word, neatly on the front of the card. Center the word both horizontally and vertically, and be sure to keep the front of the card free from extra markings, smudges or doodles. b) On the upper left corner of the back of the flash card: On the reverse side, the information side of the flash card, write a definition for the word in the upper left corner. Make sure you write the definition in your own words. This is the key. If you write a dictionary definition, you will be less likely to remember what the word means! (c) On the upper right corner of the back of the flash card: Write the part of speech in the upper right corner of the info side. Make sure you understand what the part of speech means before writing it down. Then, colour-code it. Highlight the part of speech with one colour.

When you make another flashcard with another part of speech, you’ll use a different colour. Make all the nouns yellow, all the verbs blue, etc. Your mind remembers colours really well, so you’ll start to associate colour with the part of speech, and you’ll have an easier time remembering how the word functions in a sentence. (d) On the lower left corner of the back of the flash card: Use the vocabulary word in a sentence you will remember. Make the sentence steamy, hillarious, or creative in some other way. If you write a bland sentence, your chances of remembering what the word means go way down.

Example of a memorable sentence: My pompous ex-boyfriend used to think he could get any girl he wanted, until he met my friend Mandy, who laughed at his conceited self in front of the entire school. Example of a non-memorable sentence: The king, whose pompous heads-of-state were trying to dethrone, decided to flee the country to save his own life. (e) On the lower right corner of the back of the flash card: Draw a small picture/graphic to go with the vocabulary word. It doesn’t have to be artistic – just something that reminds you of the definition.

For the word “pompous,” or “conceited”, maybe you’d draw a stick person with his nose in the air. Why? You remember pictures much better than words, which is the reason you can’t write anything on the front of the card besides the vocabulary word – you’d remember the design and associate it with the definition instead of associating the word with the definition. Repeat this process for every one of your vocabulary words, until you have a deck of flash cards. 2. Rote method (repetition): This is something that we all hate. Rote the new words up to remember them. But isn’t it the way we used to learn new words in the childhood?

So remember, when no other methods work, you should not hesitate to resort to the time tested rote method. 3. Self dictionary: We hear and read new words all the time but rarely do we take the time to look them up. When you hear an unfamiliar word, jot it down and take the time to look it up later. 4. Word games: There are many games that can be played online. It not only serves as a way to entertain but at the same time, develops your vocabulary. Some of the examples of such games are Word Search, Cross Words, Hang Mouse, Quiz, Match Game, Scramble, Letter Blocks, etc. 5.

Visualisation: At times there are very difficult words that can’t be learnt by any method else than visualization. Words can be related with something familiar and funny so that it can be remembered. 6. Reading: Read a lot. The experience of encountering unfamiliar words in print is remarkably instructive. First, because you’re already engaged in reading something, you are arguably more motivated to learn a new word so that you better understand what you’re voluntarily reading. Second, you have come across the word organically rather than artificially (i. e. in a vocabulary list).

You’ll pick up new words – and clarify meanings of words already in your toolkit – by exposing yourself to them in their, shall we say, natural habitat. The context will enrich your attempt to build a better vocabulary. Diversity of topics is important: Read some natural science stuff, applied science stuff, contemporary literature, Shakespeare, Psychology book and then consume a humorous work. Varied reading will sharpen both general and subject-specific vocabularies. A manger may not feel the utility of subjects like History, Philosophy, Biology, Travel, Anthropology, Linguistics, Art, Gender Studies, Politics, etc.

But a mind that knows varied fields has a rich vocabulary as well as is respected everywhere. You don’t have to be an expert in all disciplines to build a meaty vocabulary, but you do need to be a well-informed reader who is confident and comfortable reading on topics outside your areas of immediate expertise. 7. Interact in English: All said and done, we must try to improve our spoken English so as to write better. The more we speak in English, the better it would be for us to improve our vocabulary. 5. Decide which parts of speech are the underlined words: i.

You have to believe in yourself if you ever expect to be successful at something. – Pronoun ii. We left for the mountain just before six in the morning. – Verb iii. We first went to the store to buy a few things. – Preposition iv. We had a breakfast at a cafe near the rail station. – Noun v. My friend wasn’t strong enough to lift his heavy rucksack. – Adjective vi. I helped him carry it. – Pronoun vii. The weather was very cold. – Adverb viii. My friend said, “Oh! What a cold weather! ” – Interjection ix. We didn’t spend the night there. – Adverb x. We got back home late at night but we didn’t go to sleep immediately.

We were very hungry. – Conjunction. 6. Fill in the blanks with these words: against, at, like, on, to, up, with, near, for. i. She is doing a degree course __at__a university. ii. We had to climb slowly ___up__ the hill. iii. His house looks __like___ a temple. iv. Don’t lean that ladder ___ against __ the wall. v. My house is quite ___ near __ to your school. vi. A university is where you study ___ for __ a degree. vii. He sometimes quarrels ___ with __ the neighbour. viii. Her next birthday will be __on__ a Sunday. ix. My father has a car __like__ yours. x. The mob stoned her __to__ death.

Free Essays

Language as a Highway

There are about five thousand languages throughout the world now, and that doesn’t even include the hand languages. As a matter of fact, Languages are the most powerful inventions ever. Languages are important highways that allow people to communicate within the world of different nations and cultures. Without language we wouldn’t be able to communicate with one another and spread ideas. Languages are highways that connect the past and the present.

Without language there would be no way that we would ever have known what happened in the past. “Language is a highway linking all peoples and all ages. Mama was wrong to use language as a wall. ” Sometimes language can be a wall that breaks the connection between the people. In contract, Many foreign use their lack of language skills as an excuse to wrap themselves up, refusing to communicate with other people. There are positive and negative sides in language, and it depends on how well you using it.

It’s really important and useful for people to use language as a highway. Undoubtedly, language is the foundation of communication, and communicating is an inseparable part of our lives. We always share our feelings and emotions through the highway of language. Can you imagine if no one in the entire world understands you, you could only talk to yourself, and all you could hear was your own voice? In addition to expressing emotions, it’s also requisite for our everyday study.

We wouldn’t be able to express our ideas and thoughts without language, and we wouldn’t be able to learn. We should all use it as a convenient highway instead of a wall. There is a saying, “High thoughts must have high language. ” In fact, I’m totally agreed with that. No matter how intelligent you are, without the language you wouldn’t be able to express any of your ideas. Furthermore, language is a window to our heart which could send our feelings out. Let the language be a highway for you, instead of a wall.