Tag Archives: English language

Multilingualism matters

multilingual-eloquent

    1. Сәлем! Привет! Hello! Merhaba! Bună ziua!

  • It is interesting to know how many languages one can acquire and actively use them in his daily repertoire. Didn’t you think about that? I think it is beneficial to grow up in a Post-Soviet country which maintains the knowledge of two languages. Although my family is from a Kazakh speaking medium, that did not influence the purity of my second language: Russian. English was added later on when studying at a secondary school. Whereas, Turkish was a second major language after English at the university. Fortunately, I am an active Turkish language speaker. As Kazakh and Turkish belong to Turkic language family that perhaps the reason for my success in latter. What about “Bună ziua!”!? This is Romanian, which I used to study as an “unknown language”, a part of my TESOL course. Some grammatical similarities of Romanian to Russian made my study a bit easier at that time. With this in mind, these languages are the tools which help me to achieve my aims. Therefore, I consider myself as a prudent multilingual individual.

    Let’s define the terms first. As Cenoz (2013) emphasizes, some researchers claim that bilingual is the person who speaks two languages, and multilingual is the one who actively uses two and more languages. I consider myself as a balanced multilingual in first four languages. However, my knowledge of Romanian is limited, almost close to its loss.

    So, what are the benefits of being multilingual or bilingual? Cenoz (2013) mentioned that being multilingual positively affects the cognitive development of an individual. For instance, multilingual better fulfills some metalinguistic tasks and some features of the cognitive downturn related to aging can slow down. Personally, I have experienced its benefits in various ways. First of all, education is the sector which requires the knowledge of an additional language. In our case, it is English. It is the language which I have taught at schools and used as a medium of instruction at my institution. Additionally, English was the language which I referred to when traveled and lived abroad. Kazakh, along with Russian are the languages of daily communication. However, Russian is the preferred language of the Internet. As Okal (2014) points out:

      “Multilingualism is a big resource” (p.226).

    It opens doors for the creativity, communication, access and many more. The key idea that I want to emphasize is that bilingual can use the knowledge of his languages to learn additional ones (Cenoz, 2013), which I do up to these days. As mentioned above, I have used Russian to learn Romanian, and Kazakh to acquire Turkish. I guess, it is the time to apply it to English.

    So, to your mind, what are the privileges of learning additional languages for you? Would you agree that by being bilingual you make a less effort to acquire another language?

    Photo credit: https://laravel-news.com/how-to-add-multilingual-support-to-eloquent

    References

    Cenoz, J. (2013). Introduction to Multilingualism.  Annual Review of Applied Linguistics                     33, 3–18.

    Okal, B. O. (2014). Benefits of Multilingualism in Education. Universal Journal Of                                     Educational Research, 2(3), 223-229.

 

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Code Switching

Image credits: grammarlycards.com
Image credits: grammarlycards.com

You are at class, discussing the new educational reforms and talking to the professor in a professional manner; you almost look like a politician. 1:00 PM. The class is over and curtains fall; habitually, you start talking to your friends in a completely different manner. Relaxed and easygoing, you turn on your loud and offstage voice – hitherto undetected by the professors. And here is your professor, who has not left the room yet, taken aback by your transformation. And that transformation is a code switching. Code switching is the alternation of languages (Poplack, 1980) as well as behaviours (Zeller, 2004). But the question here is why we switch codes? Different researchers have identified different reasons and the most common are:

  • To match the situation

The way we talk or behave in front of the employer differs dramatically from the one when with parents. Behavioural code switching is a matter of etiquette here; there is a behaviour that is appropriate at home but inappropriate in public (Zeller, 2004).

  • To show solidarity

Janet Holmes (2013) mentions in her book that, ‘a speaker may switch to another language as a signal of group membership. People from different or the same ethnic groups can use code switching to express intercommunity. For example:

Bauyrzhan: Салем (kaz. Hi), Стас! Погоняем мяч (rus. Let’s play football)!

Stas: Жооок (kaz. Nooo)! Я устал (rus. I am tired)!

Bauyrzhan: Ну, давай (rus. Come on)! Қызық будет (kaz. rus. It will be fun)!

In the example, it can be clearly found that the Bauyrzhan uses the Russian to cut through the barrier; to establish solidarity.

  • To express affection

Some feelings and attitudes are not that easy to be expressed. Speakers may switch codes to express amazement, frustration, sadness, happiness and many other feelings.

Janet Holmes (2013) says, “A language switch . . . is often used to express disapproval. So a person may code switch because they are angry.” Let me give you a good example about code-switching to express affection.

A mother calls her son “Балам, мында кел” {Son, come here!} When he does not respond quickly enough she switches to Russian: ‘Балам, ты идешь или нет!’ [Are you coming or not!] ”

In the above example, the mother used the Russian language to express her anger of the child’s behaviour.

  • To convey a thought

A perfect bon mot (a witty remark) is needed to convey the certain concepts and to come across effectively. Many people switch languages to express particular ideas, as in the case of Jennifer Monahan:

According to her story, she works in a bilingual school and code switches whenever there is a lexical gap in one of the    languages. E.g when they talk in French and mention about a smart board, she say “le smart board”. The notion of having a designated container to bring your lunch from home is foreign for the French. So they all refer to “le lunchbox”.

Learning the basis of code switching is important in terms of self control. The lessons of acceptable conduct are defined by the family and society in which one was brought up (Zeller, 2004). The decision to code switch in behaviours or languages is up to our judgement. Becoming critical thinkers, behaving according to the context and continuously growing linguistically, regardless of the language in which we prefer to do it, are the most important things here. But if Kazrunglish is a part of who you are and as long as it is appropriate, don’t worry, code-switch away!

Holmes, J. (2013). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Routledge.

Poplack, S. (1980). Sometimes i’ll start a sentence in spanish y termino en espanol: toward a typology of code-switching1. Linguistics, 18(7-8), 581-618.

Zeller, D. L. (2004). Professional Documentaion Journal. Unpublished manuscript.

Is English really a global language?

English isn’t managing to sweep all else before it — and if it ever does become the universal language, many of those who speak it won’t understand one another.

via What Global Language? – 00.11.

Barbara Wallraff wrote this in 2000, claiming that English hasn’t, and perhaps won’t ever, become a truly global language. A lot can change in a decade. How do you see the situation in your part of the world?

Has the expansion of English proven Wallraff wrong? How do you predict the future of language in your country? Will the use of English grow and then fall? Will it slowly increase but never pass the vernacular language?