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Socio Cultural Understanding OZ Assignments
In this essay, a flexible approach is taken towards comprehension of language patterns and focus is made on the implied meaning associated in each case instead of semantics. Efforts are made for identifying the type of interactions that takes place in various environments and how language shows its dynamic nature. Models proposed by prominent linguists are discussed to know the methods adopted in classroom literacy to lessen the disparity in children’s understanding levels. The topic revolves around curriculum adopted in Australian primary schools and nursery and involves children from working and middle classes. This essay also showcases the problems faced by Aboriginals and children with low social adaptability.
The content, in a lucid manner, justifies why some people have high rate of success as compared to others because of their literary level, ability to express with clarity and excellence in writing and speaking abilities.
Socio-Cultural Understanding Of Language
Language has a key role of blood stream in a society. It is a medium via which we project our identity in front of others. It acts as an assessment tool, for the person we are interacting with, to judge our personality, background and association. There are vital underlying meanings in a normal transfer of information, made through the use of a particular style of communicating. From the statement given above, viewing language as a mere object of interaction has no relevance because of the purpose for which it exists and evolves. In short, Language is multi-faceted and defines to a great extent the behavioural patterns adopted by a particular kind of person. It is highly diversified and varies in regional and lifestyle aspects (LSA, 2012).
Language is more of a humanly medium of comprehending each other and can be optimally utilized only when put to practice in various environments and not just making theory-based adoption. It forms a part of social activity. Think, for example, different set of social rules defined for opening and closing a conversation or just digressing.
Socio-cultural fabric is the core of learning for a student irrespective of age or sex. Social context defines language and language defines behaviour. Teachers while inside the classroom understand that language is embedded with culture. They connect with their students on an emotional level as a result of which every student comes out with self-established identity and independent response. This might not be the case if language was set to be neutral and too semantic in nature (Johnson, 2016).
Particularly when a child is in its early stage of development, it becomes vital to have a smart teaching approach. One can’t interpret everything genuinely through his/her own mind till he/she is restricted socio-culturally. Neutral use of language makes the person inferior in learning stage because neither the true personality reflects nor the learning efficiency is at its peak. It is like relying on other’s idea instead of self-developed one. From a pupil’s perspective, learning needs to be creative especially when the subject of interest is ‘Language’. Here it refers to children’s literature meant for providing virtual exposure to things a child might face at a later stage in life. Literary skills predict a lot about where a person stands when it comes to power of expression. Like in every curriculum around the globe, the Australian literature for children in nursery and primary schools has stories which are inter-related with culture, language and literacy. Imposed way of thinking is witnessed in stereotype classes and thus it is necessary to not to follow the same technique when one is taking language classes. From a teacher’s perspective, it is equally important to use open-ended questions for interacting with the students and not to adhere to formal conversation unlike practiced in technical or literature subjects because that limits the student’s ability to comprehend and elaborate ideas as well as the teacher’s efficiency in imparting knowledge (Frank, 2014).
Writing and reading abilities determine our observation of things we are familiar with. Observations made about anything have components like:
1.Identity based - Name and appearance of the object/person.
2.Personality based – Behaviour, thinking, lexis and linguistic style.
3.Geographical based – Place of origin or present location.
5.Other’s views and judgment.
These components help to build up the character based on the observation.
Semantics and Discourse are two other important terms related to classroom literacy. Reading the world has more value than reading the word as it is stated by theorists like Freire and Macedo. When a child leaves home to add school life to its routine, the transitional phase is monitored till the child adapts itself to the new kind of settings. Particularly in case of young Aboriginal learners, development of classroom discourse is a must to proliferate their social skills by frequent adjustments in their growth stage. This is to ensure that their desires are not influenced by other individuals and they pursue a career of their own choice. Discourse involved making any interaction meaningful relating to a person’s inside world. Aboriginal youth is seen to have low SES and have hard time accepting a change in their previous socio-cultural practices. The change can be productive but it requires the teachers to treat their students impartially.
A heuristic method is used for teaching of language to these children. Even in general, academic discourse is involved in classroom teaching. To transmit ideas and make the session interactive, teachers make children comfortable till they gather momentum and voluntarily starts speaking or at least ask questions (Fisher, Frey and Rothenberg, 2017). This in turn indirectly reduces the gap between children who hail from working class and middle class. Early development in a child’s reading and writing abilities make it expressive and elaborative and thus reflects confidence and literacy level.
Parents highly focus on language development in their children. Nurseries and primary school are a part of bringing such development. The state of a child’s mind after developing the bare minimum required cognitive abilities is analogous to a non volatile emptied memory device ready to accept plethora of ideas about the world. Noted thing is, the pattern in which it will perceive the world (Lenneberg, and Lenneberg, 2014).
It is exactly where language development in children comes to play and determines a child’s behavioural response to different stimulus as it starts exploring the physical realities. With time, its exposure and interpretation to different environments frames the personality and belief system it adopts. A lot of these are influenced by the language guidance provided during its family upbringing and social sphere (Raising Children Network, 2016). It is very well explained in Michael Halliday’s model of 7 functional languages out of which first four are perceived by a child as a method of survival. They are Instrumental - for needs and desires, Regulatory- for conveying actions to be done or get done, Interactional – for building relations and Personal - for expressing oneself. The other models define how much success a child can achieve as it continues to grow. They decide the interaction between a child and the dynamic environment. They are Heuristic, Imaginative and Representational. For Halliday, language doesn’t has a definite pattern of evolution and has been designed accordingly to serve a social man’s life in different kinds of requirements. His works on functional grammar describes language as both social and semiotic (SemiotiX, 2017).
The subdirectory, which language has under it, is Labyrinthine. Its subsets are multiple and interrelated as well. For example, the ‘accents’ vary in different aspects like those based on population density, lifestyles, community-based, age groups, social class etc. They can be regional or urban, teenage or childish, guileless or scheming, standard or poor and classy or unsophisticated.
Halliday’s model of linguistic theory also defines the term ‘Register’. It has 3 basic elements which predict how a communication is going to be in a particular situation. These are Field, Tenor and Mode. A Field tells about the power of expression which depends on whether the content is general or specialised. This is related to the extent, to which the people involved in the interaction, are concerned about the matter of discussion. The second one is the Tenor which describes the participants in a given conversation; about their role and the amount of significance they hold at that time, their relationship with others etc.The third one is the Mode of communication which measures the vibe in an interaction. It tells whether a message conveyed is in written form or oral in nature; whether it was formal or conveyed in a casual manner and how well the text or words are being organized (Lukin, et.al. 2008). When the content is irrelevant, the register is bonding and a good vibe is created. On the other hand, in a formal conversation vibe is less prioritized as contents are specific and register is said to be distancing. The later one needs to be logical and there is less or no emotional investment (House, 2014).
An example shall give a good insight of the Halliday’s model. Let us suppose a person had a small fight with one of his friend. Aftermath he visits office and later returns home in the evening. He speaks about the same matter to one of his senior inside his cabin and to his elder brother at home. Here the subject of our concern is exposed to two different environments. He also has two different levels of familiarity with both. Though both are senior to him, one is his sibling while the other one is his corporate partner. While he is informal and becomes very expressive about the incident with his elder brother, he is not the same in front of his senior and refrains from explaining minute details. Also the body language and physical gesture intended to add emphasis to the conversation differs in each case. One is flexible and comfortable while other one is constrictive. Finally, the keywords used to set the frame in each differ to a high range. It is clearly understood that the vibe is good in the informal environment. Similar kind of vibe should be created in a classroom environment where children study literature.
SES stands for Social Class, Education and Language. Everyone goes through a stage of regret or satisfaction in its life on recalling what his/her SES was and how much is achieved so far. This is most common during interviews when the interviewer asks the candidate to elaborate the lifestyle led in past and productive things carried out. But a much of it is already reflected by the language he/she employs while providing reasonable answers. The person, sitting in front, is already making judgments on the basis of conduct (López-Gopar and Sughrua, 2014).
It is prevalent as well as acknowledged by everyone that working class children are less privileged than middle class children in matters of money and amenities. They have lower SES as compared to the later and therefore are termed as low achievers, though there are exceptions. Bernstein categorises the two based on language codes they adopt – restricted or elaborated. The working class children have access to only ‘Restricted code’ while children pursuing academic careers have access to both and are generally elaborative while conveying speaking or writing anything to serve their purpose (Bernstein, 2011).
It is seen that nursery and primary teachers are partial while talking to students with different level of SES (Bilton, 2012). Here the language is actually determining class & ethnicity also; Hence, Bernstein’s language deficit theory is viewed as a controversial one by many researchers. Some came with Language Difference Theory which contradicts the idea given in Language Deficit Theory.
After studying the entire content in the essay it is concluded that an emotional level of understanding is vital while imparting classroom teaching to children in nursery and primary schools. To attenuate the disparity between students from working class and those from middle class, it is highly necessary to implement the model proposed by linguists. Language, viewed as a cluster of words and structures is not progressive for children at the early growth stage. A multifaceted approach is required to connect with them and finding out their shortcomings so that they self-initiate expressing their thoughts and ideas. It shall help them to get a strong and well establishment identity in the crowd.
1.Johnson, K.E., 2016. Language teacher education. The Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching, p.12
2.LSA, 2012 Sociolinguistics [Accessed online:
http://www.linguisticsociety.org/resource/sociolinguistics] [Accessed on: 28/3/2017]
3.Raising Children Network, 2016 Language Development: An amazing journey [Accessed online: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/language_development.html] [Accessed
4.Frank, H., 201 Cultural Encounters in Translated Children's Literature. Routledge.
5.Berstein, B. 2011 Elaborated and Restricted Codes: Their Social Origins and Some Consequences [Accessed online:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1964.66.suppl_3.02a00030/pdf] [Accessed on: 28/3/2017]
6.Bilton, H., 2012 European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 20(3), pp.403-421.
7.Lukin, A., et.al. 2008 Halliday’s model of register revisited and explored [Accessed online: https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/LHS/article/view/8479] [Accessed on: 28/3/2017]
8.Lenneberg, E.H. and Lenneberg, E. eds., 2014. Foundations of language development: A multidisciplinary approach. Academic Press.
9.Fisher, D., Frey, N. and Rothenberg, C., 2017 Chapter 1.Why Talk Is Important in Classrooms [Accessed online:
http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108035/chapters/Why-Talk-Is-Important-in-Classrooms.aspx] [Accessed on: 28/3/2017]
10.López-Gopar, M.E. and Sughrua, W., 2014. Social class in English language education in Oaxaca, Mexico. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 13(2), pp.104-1
11.SemiotiX, 2017 Language as social semiotic in Halliday’s systematic functional linguistics [Accessed online: http://semioticon.com/semiotix/2012/03/language-as-social-semiotic-in-hallidays-systemic-functional-linguistics/] [Accessed on: 28/3/2017]
12.House, J., 2014. Translation quality assessment: Past and present. In Translation: A Multidisciplinary Approach (pp. 241-264). Palgrave Macmillan UK.