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Language Learning Techniques

Discuss About The Continuum Companion Functional Linguistics.

Language learning in the professional world is a process for developing proficiency in communication and professional skills. I moved from Pakistan to Australia as a foreign student in order to pursue my degree in Linguistics. I chose to study this course in a native English region for cultural diffusion and proficient skills. Like many students in English classes, learning a language for a specific context is beneficial (Halliday & Hasan, 1989). My plan to pursue a Linguistic course in a foreign land meant better credentials and appeal to employers. It was a requirement that I start with ESL classes and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL). Despite the fact that I had a Master’s degree in Linguistics, I had to go through this learning experience for proficiency in the language. Learning through different techniques made the experience more fruitful. Designed for learners who do not use English as a first language these courses train students in accordance with the global standards. This discussion focuses on the techniques used by multicultural students in learning the language. It brings out theories concepts through my experience as an urdu speaking student in Australia. 

Whorf (1940, p.229) states that everyone communicates through a thinking process developed from infancy “Because of….firm connection with speech habits that have become unconscious and automatic…” the variations in symbols and language thoughts makes language different in structure and meaning.

Renowned modern-day scholars like Chomsky support traditional Psychologist Jean Piaget's psychological theory, on Learning through mental processes (Chomsky, 2006).  In this, context learners undergo learning through stages.  Classifying students according to the age and professional groups ensures that they attain language skills through a well-developed process of reasoning. According to Jean Piaget, the brain goes through learning in order to structure knowledge but needs provoking situations (Piaget, 1997). Training language involves tests and program designs focus on preparing learners mentally as well as academically (Eldelman, 1992). Adult education brings out proficiency in written and spoken English for professional purposes. English for medical practitioners would have terminologies and vocabularies in the profession. Modern communication in the global environment involves main languages like English. World conditions influence the development of language expertise. Different factors inspire people to attain proficiency in English.

Cognitive Linguistics (CL) supports second language acquisition (SLA) because it combines Psychology and Education (Rampton, 2006). Language transfer is through inputs made and the learner’s output represents the ability to comprehend. Passing a TESOL exam involves hours of study with exercises in grammar, speech, listening and written texts. The brain stores memory in the long term and short term depending on the learner’s age. Childhood development differentiates the adult from the child in terms of emotional factors. The use of motivational, attitude enhancing and anxiety-reducing strategies are part of SLA learning tactics (Bernstein, 2000). Engaging the intellectual abilities, students make use of thinking skills, reasoning and the ability to recall from memory grammar structures and spellings. Through reflection, the language student processes information, stores categories, concepts, and experiments with information. The cognitive approach to grammar, lexical semantics and phonology depends on these abilities. However, the cognitive approach accepts the dependence on the social environment for the conceptualization of information (Swales, 1990).

Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition

Other scholars view language learning as a social process that involves interpretation of meaning in language (Halliday & Hasan, 1985). Country location inspires people to pursue studies in English lands. Native speaking countries like UK, US, Australia and New Zealand receive visitors from across the globe searching for learning opportunities (Maton, 2007: Ochs & Schieffelin, 1984). The sociological perspective also explains why there is an increase in the number of international students seeking certificates in higher education from reputable institutions abroad. In society today, there is a higher demand for language teachers from the best regions of the language. Exposure to the English culture is a plus for any professional looking for a good job in the top companies. Knox (2018) connects language. Learning and the community by recognizing that identity defines society and that people connect to the world through relationships.

Knight (2010, p. 34) discusses identity in learning processes to indicate that the learning environment is complacent with cultural transitions and successful teaching strategies support language acquisition in groups. In this perspective, an international setting comprises of a multicultural environment with learners in different subject areas. A Pakistan Urdu and English-speaking teacher is at an advantage of finding employment because of the bilingual opportunities (Foster, 2018). However, in order to become fruitful this teacher needs to achieve proficiency in language. Despite having a higher degree in Linguistics, multilingual professionals require competent language and cultural exposure. Developed countries like Australia have remarkable salaries for teachers across different professions.  The Saussure theory of linguistics combines human experiences and mental processes to explain the influence of language on the immigration process (Culler, 1976). Knowledge acquisition in language has the social and individual functioning featuring the external and internal factors respectively.

Knox (2018) compares Chomskyan and Hallidayan linguistics through the linguistic theory and the development of competence with the learner performance. Students acquire knowledge in different areas by limiting errors, sharpening attention and using language for communication. Linguistics is the systematic study of language and its usage in speaking, listening, writing and reading (Halliday & Hasan, 1985). Through interaction, individuals and collective groups communicate through networks for culturally based and personal networks. People communicate with each other because of the bonds that they share. This could be in business, professional or personal spheres (Holiday, Kullman, & Hyde, 2004). The modelling of the situation includes the context and individual perspectives of the situation (Martin, 2010). That is why a teacher from Pakistan would perceive himself more competitive if he has a credible certificate from an Australian university. Knox acknowledges society and people as group elements that influence the development of language (Knox, 2018, p. 3).

Learning Language as a Social Process

Language learning for communication purposes considers direct and indirect interactions. The mental functions in the context-specific functions connect the human action with language expressions. That is why language grows through communication and it evolves across time (Fitch, Hauser, & Chomsky, 2005).  The human mind registers information by interpreting it. This is why a non-native will connect icons, symbols and language elements with mother tongue dialects. As a result, second language students make constant errors in spoken and written language. Competent Linguistic professionals interact to create a distinction between the original meaning and the visualized one. However, failure to obtain expertise through language acquisition may arise due to miss conceptualization of language, which may occur during interaction (Halliday & Hasan, 1985: Tomasello, 2009). Communication patterns improve as individuals engage in social interaction. This change also comes into effect because of cultural evolution and social patterns. Feedback from communication reveals the learner's application of different genres and content relevancy. Language practice limits the errors while enhancing participation in the discourse.

Vygotsky (1978, pp. 30-35) supports the cognitive theory by giving an illustration of how learning takes place internally. He points out that this process defines people’s interaction. Teachers use this theory to design tasks that encourage students to reflect on tasks. Comprehension exercises, grammar, and reading skills thrive is the student has a strong use of psychological functions. This is because contextual analysis provokes learning through the abstract, deductive reasoning, symbolic representation, and ordering. The social experience presents ideas for a task-based learning, which shapes the abstract in a language into a concrete. Tasks designed following grammatical mistakes support learners through their weaknesses for proficiency in the language. The use of schema and analogy to identify syntactic roles and the connection between subject, verb, and object is one way to use tasks for learning (Eldelman, 1992).

The development of professional language calls for the use of technical terms, complex rules and theories of learning the language. The functionally based approach looks at how students use different components of nouns, verbs, and processes. This prevents ambiguity and supports the multifaceted adaptive system for multiple activities. For example, CL may support the use of common sense in learning (Maton, 2007, p. 70) hence supports tasks that encourage intellectual development such as puzzles and vocabulary development.  This is different from the user-based acquisition, which encourages tasks like language for specific purposes (LSP) (Tomasello, 2009, p. 85). Linguists undertake exercises in language philosophy, pragmatism, and phonological aspects in order to draw from language its meaning and grammar formation processes. Although this approach is instrumental in adult learning, it is impossible to ignore generalization and errors emanating from identity problems (Wenger, 1998, p. 60).

Identity and Language Learning

The scientific approach to linguistics considers the extension of language from the familiar to the unknown (Fitch, Hauser, & Chomsky, 2005, p. 183). Some words in Urdu may not be so familiar to the English language. For example, the word ‘Harf‘resembles a combination of letters in English but it represents one letter in the Urdu alphabet. This leaves the non-native learner confused hence the emergence of random errors. This theory looks at language as a biological as well as a social semiotic system. This explains why language learning is in phases and features an evolution process.

Foster (2018) brings out the importance of language as a motivating factor that makes individuals develop the use of language. In her opinion, Foster Wyatt sees language as a social and economic tool that the school system promotes. Although this also promotes the quest for learning the second language, there are considerations for the cultural influence. That is why Wenger (1998, p. 58) notes that language allows individuals to recognize themselves through projections which produce meaning and “contrasts between mutuality and projection”. Research identifies English as a critical language in the global sphere because it is the main language in business and basic communication (Foster, 2018: Munroe & Cangelosi, 2002).

Learning language through professionalism requires training. Individuals seeking to pursue careers as trainers in English must pursue sufficient training. Applied Linguistics is one of the recognized degree programs that a student needs for such jobs. However, gaining credibility is more important because it supports the learner’s quest for employment. Cultural assimilation is instrumental in blending identity and ideologies in the social linguistic forum (Gee, 1990). Gaining competencies through informal, incidental and formal learning calls for different activities. Adult immigrants seek language improvement opportunities through media resources, knowledge sharing, cultural exchange and taking classes such as TESOL. SL learning involves the adoption of language and environmental changes. This shapes the mental process or schema and a learner’s attitude towards language for maximization of interlanguage skills (Munroe & Cangelosi, 2002, p. 315).

There are many reasons why I would support of the use of English tests for foreign students seeking entry into an international learning institution. My perception of language as a systematic function is that it influences the language adoption process. However, I disagree with ideas of age group teaching as discussed by Painter (2009) because language depends on the environment and scope of learning (Holiday, Kullman, & Hyde, 2004).  Traveling to a native speaking country with majority of native speaker’s calls for quality language skills in a learner’s perspective (Lemke, 2002). Using English as an official language makes it mandatory for immigrants to take English courses for effective communication. Learning language simplifies life and supports learning in a global institution. Students from different regions speak in a unified language and coexist in the multicultural environment becoming more fruitful. In order to create harmony and stream line the learning process institutions design a standard model for language learning designed for all foreign students. Cross-cultural learners face different experiences as second language learners. The teacher expects that the learner will demonstrate skills in communication within the listening and speaking, reading and writing categories. No wonder foreign students face challenges trying to excel in TESOL and EFL certificates.

The Scientific Approach to Linguistics

When language learning becomes a restriction, students will do all that they can in order to pass the exams. I find this notion problematic because language learning should be a gradual process. In agreement with cognitive approaches, I believe that language is inborn and should not be a struggle to attain. However, what happens when the global environment presents opportunities and challenges for second language students?  Students find the right credentials for the opportunities while avoiding the challenges. Every time I get online, I come across English as the main language for communication. This reminds me of language and identity in the social setting (Bernstein, 2000, p. 15). I prefer a learning process, which encourages socialization of language for cultural preservation. The standardization of entry tests for non-native learners has its pros and cons. I feel that international students should not leave a foreign land when they have adopted a new accent. The best language learning process acknowledges the multiplicity of culture in the learning process (Lemke, 2002). After all, the global environment accommodates different cultures.

From observation, professionals undertake to learn English as a global language because of social demands. Second language students want to understand conversations, communicate in the written text without spelling mistakes and speak fluently. Clear content and effective use of language style demonstrate proficiency in the language (Gee, 1990). Although learning language may be for a specific purpose, I support experiential learning in which the learner explores the cultural context of the language through a natural process that is not predetermined. In this case, I disagree with the use of one language as the main tool for communication and employment. People should be free to adopt language as a natural phenomenon because it evolves when people interact (Lee, Mikesell, Joaquin, Mates, & Schumann, 2009). When professionals feel coerced into taking a language course in order to succeed, it fails to fulfil the homogeneity plan. This challenge also raises questions about competence and performance. I agree with (Knox, 2018) who connects competence and performance for discourse in the community. Therefore, language for use should not be with utmost seriousness as a systematic study. 

I often look in amazement at the number of individuals flocking to foreign language classes in order to fit into a particular society. This could be a learning institution or a professional field. It makes sense that learning language for communication supports the coexistence of individuals (Halliday & Hasan, 1989). However, Language training that involves a long process should not be strenuous. The environmentalist approach to learning language seems to value the functional perspective. In this case, foreign students will adopt a language for a specific purpose. Similarly, a tourist who takes classes in a foreign language in order to communicate effectively has a clear agenda. While some theorists like the Baldwinian evolution supports the natural selection process, culturalism advocates for learning through cultural evolution (Arbib, 2013). Looking at English as a global language, it is evident that it represents an example of a language that has evolved due to learning processes. Linguistics is a study of different aspects of language. The theoretical approach makes it subject to transformation hence its growth as a common language.

Unanimity in global language is elusive because the variations in English versions is an indication of a multicultural influence. This raises questions about the theory by cognitive strategists that language is evolving with the brain (Deacon, 1997). I believe that social patterns influence the communication patterns. This is why learners in a language class prefer a native teacher in order to adopt the right accent and pronunciation. Consequently, a teacher would use social activities to engage the learner in the practical application of language. In most course books, the use of cultural or social context examples is preferable because this connects with human thoughts. Different language learning experiences produce different results. The natural environment such as the native land influences the linguistic development process. Student’s language patterns highlight the success or failure of attaining the language skill. This makes the situation, learning objectives and speaker versus receiver relationship critical (Culler, 1976).

Conclusion

Learning language is a process that involves different factors. According to the cognitive theorists, inert abilities influence successful adoption of language skills. On the other hand, environmental theorists and socialists support language acquisition through an interactive process. The different dimensions of learning also bring out the role of linguistic theories in shaping language learning. The use of language in a multidisciplinary and multicultural system brings about varied notions about the application of language. Scientific approaches support the systematic approaches, which identify language as functional. The cultural perspective brings out the ideological influence in language within groups. This explains the genre differences in language discourse. When analysing language learning, the individual participation, community or group involvement and the learning process matter. Linguists refer to the process of learning language from the social and individual perspectives. These define the academic as well as applied linguistics. From this discussion, learning language depends on the ability of the brain to manipulate information and language development through interaction. The community group such as a professional learning institution provides an umbrella or social structure, within which learning thrives. Nurturing individuals and groups in language acquisition depends on the trends, system functions and learning resources in an environment. Second language acquisition for advanced learners shows an ecological perspective in which the social-cultural perspective dominates. All these scenarios shape the evolution of language across different regions.

References

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