MEANING OF LANGUAGE
The term ‘language’ has been derived from the Latin word lingua which means ‘tongue’. But there are two French words, langue and parole that are more related to the word ‘language’. Langue refers to ‘a conventional form of speech that belongs to a particular community’ etc. For example, in India, there are several languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Rajasthani. On the other hand, parole means ‘speech or the act of speaking’ i.e., how a person expresses his/her feelings, emotions or views while living in the society. According to Ben Johnson, “Speech is the only instrument of society.”
Educationists have given various definitions of language. Some of the most popular definitions are as follows:
According to H. Gray, “Language is the physical and external manifestation of a non-physical internal state or endeavour to represent materially what is immaterial.” In this definition, the term ‘physical’ refers to what is experienced by our sense organs, while the term ‘non-physical’ refers to what cannot be expressed in words. At the non-physical stage of a language, one can be speechless due to given circumstances or situation.
According to Gleason, “Language is one of the most important and characteristic forms of human behaviour.” As per Jespersen, “Language is the set of human habits, the purpose of which is to give expression to human thoughts and feelings especially to impart them to others.” Edward Sapir said, “Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.”
The characteristics of language are as given below:
► It may be verbal as well as non-verbal.
► It is a unique human trait.
► It is a socially and culturally inherited function, but not a biological one.
► It is a system of using phonetics, grammar and vocabulary.
► It is a highly structured system. The structure is based on semantics and grammatical relationship between words.
The characteristics of English language are given below:
► It has its own set of grammatical rules.
► It has its own arbitrary system.
► It is a progressive language because it has its own past, present and future.
► It has its own language structure such as phonemes, morphemes and syntax.
The nature of language can be described as follows:
► It is always descriptive.
► It is evolutionary in nature.
► It is a source to communicate one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences.
► It differs according to its geographical, social and psychological bases.
► Human beings preserve and develop their knowledge through language.
The functions of language are as given below:
► It helps in communicating with others.
► It helps to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
► It preserves our history and other kinds of important facts, ideas, logic, etc.
► It works as a science. We can use a language in a proper manner just by acquiring the knowledge of its grammar.
► It works as an art. We give expression to our thoughts in a rhetorical manner with the help of language.
Human beings are considered super animals because of their ability to express through language. In other words, language makes us unique.
The importance of language can be described in the following manner:
► It is the most important means for acquiring human knowledge. Human knowledge has three phases preservation, transmission and advancement which are possible only with the help of a language.
► It contributes directly and indirectly to the personality development of a person.
► It is the best source for social and cultural development.
► It is the best and most applicable means of verbal interaction among people for exchanging their ideas and feelings.
► It preserves the history of human civilisation.
According to the University Grants Commission (UGC), “English is a language which is rich in literature – humanistic, scientific and technical. If under sentimental urges we should give up English, we would cut ourselves off from the living stream of the ever-growing knowledge.” This statement alone gives enough reasons as to why the study and use of English language is important in India. The other reasons are as given below:
► It is an international language.
► It works as a window to the world.
► It is a linking language.
► It is a language of international trade and industry.
► It is regarded as the second language in India.
The term ‘mother tongue’ denotes the language that is learned first; the language identified with as a “native” speaker; the language known best; the language used most. Learning to speak in the mother tongue is important for a child’s overall development. Being fluent in the mother tongue, which is also known as the native language, benefits the child in many ways.
It connects him to his culture, ensures better cognitive development, and aids in the learning of other languages.
Mother tongue plays a tremendously useful role in the education of a child and their personality development. It has a great importance in the field of education. Therefore, mother tongue must be given an important and prominent place in the school curriculum.
Specifically, the importance of mother tongue is due to the following reasons:
Medium of Expression and Communication Mother tongue is the best medium for the expression of one’s ideas and feelings. Thus, it is the most potent agent for mutual communication and exchange of ideas.
Formation of a Social Group It is through language, and especially through the mother tongue, that individuals form themselves into a social organisation.
Easy to Learn Of all the languages, mother – tongue is the easiest to learn.
Full proficiency or mastery can be achieved in one’s own mother tongue.
Medium for Acquiring Knowledge Thinking is an instrument of acquiring knowledge, and thinking is impossible without language. “And training in the use of mother–tongue the tongue in which a child thinks and dreams–becomes the first essential of shoaling and the finest instrument of human culture.” (P.B. Ballard.)
It is therefore, of the greatest importance for our pupils to get a firm grounding in their mother tongue.
Intellectual Development Intellectual development is impossible without language.
Reading, expressing oneself, acquiring knowledge and reasoning are the instruments for bringing about intellectual development; and all of these are possible only through language, or the mother tongue of the child.
Creative Self-Expression We may be able to communicate in any language, but creative self-expression is possible only in one’s own mother tongue.
This is clear from the fact that all great writers could produce great literature only in their own language.
Emotional Development Mother tongue is the most important instrument for bringing about emotional development of an individual. The emotional effect of literature and poetry is important in the development and refinement of emotions.
Growth of the Pupils The teaching of the mother tongue is important because the growth of pupils depends on mother tongue teaching.
Intellectual growth; growth in knowledge; growth in ability to express themselves; growth in creative and productive ability all stem from the mother tongue.
Thus, mother tongue has tremendous importance in education and in curriculum.
Learning foreign languages has become more important over the last decades. Due to internationalisation and globalisation, it has become common to master foreign languages. To further investigate the impact of native language on the second language, a lot of research was done. Some researchers claim that viewing L1 as potentially valuable learning resource instead of a mere source of interference opens up greater pedagogical space and hence may bear constructive implications for L2 instruction, especially in homogeneous contexts where both teachers and learners share the same mother tongue and target language. However, some researchers stand against this claim. The knowledge of the mother tongue has positive or negative effects for the learning of the second language, which are as follows:
The knowledge of the mother tongue plays an indispensable role in the learning of the second language. In this connection,
W.M. Ryburn, a researcher, says that the mother tongue can be of the greatest assistance in the learning of the second language. Some points in this regard can be given as follows:
► The child learns how to sit, hold a pen and also prepare the habits of speaking and writing in mother tongue.
► There are similarities between the phonetics of mother language and the foreign language. Like, many sounds of English are similar to the sounds of various mother languages.
► The mother tongue teaches the child how to read silently and loudly. It transfers habits to the second language.
► Some concepts of grammar are common in two languages. For example, punctuation marks, tenses, voice,
► There are some words of English which are not understood by the students even if the teacher uses all the devices of teaching. In such cases, the use of mother tongue works wonders.
► Certain idioms of English can be best taught by making comparison with those in the mother tongue. Otherwise, the students will misunderstand the idioms or instructions in English.
Sometimes, the mother tongue interferes in the learning of the foreign language. Some of the points in this context can be made as follows:
► Sometimes the knowledge of mother tongue becomes a stumbling block in learning English.
► There are no exact equivalents of the second language in the mother tongue. So, the learner will not be able to do the exact translation work.
► The structure and rules of both the languages are different and therefore, makes it difficult for second language learners to grasp the new language.
► The sentence patterns of the second language and mother tongue are quite different (structure is SVO in English).
► For second language learners, some cues such as intonation are hard to master and are more likely to be influenced by their native language.
► A person’s native language can influence the way brain processes auditory words in a second language because cues that signal the beginning and ending of words can differ from language to language, a person’s native language can provide misleading information when learning to segment a second language into words.
Thus, there are many differences between the mother tongue and the second language. Some researchers suggest multilingual teaching as an option to help learners grasp concepts in their mother tongue. Even though a class might be presented mainly in English, this should also involve the teacher explaining certain key concepts in the children’s mother tongue. The research emphasises on the recognition of the mother tongue. Children should be encouraged to be multilingual and teachers should be adept at teaching multilingual students. Also, the government should do more to communicate the benefits of delivering foundation skills to primary school children in their mother tongue. This might change the perception of parents who do not perceive the value of mother tongue education.
Linguistics is the ‘scientific study of language’, which is based on observation and experiment. It is not only concerned with the structure of language but also with its development at various stages. It focusses its attention on different facts of human speech and studies a language in terms of its international structure.
According to Ferdinand de Saussure, the Father of Modern Linguistics, language could not be studied synchronically and diachronically. The synchronic study of a language is concerned with the description of a language at a particular period, while the diachronic study of language deals with the historical development of language.
Various principles of teaching have been formulated based upon the psychological and pedagogical principles. Some linguistic principles are as follows:
► Principle of naturalness: This principle is related to one’s mother tongue because it is always learnt easily and naturally by a child.
► Principle of exposure: A child learns his/her mother tongue more rapidly because he/she is exposed to the environment where this language is spoken or written. For example: Interacting with people in a market, watching movies or television, or listening to radio
► Principle of habit formation: In the words of Palmer, “Language learning is essentially a habit forming process, a process during which we acquire new habits.” Habit of imitation and habit of silent reading are some examples that help learning.
► Principle of proper order: According to this principle, the proper order involved in language learning is understanding, speaking, reading and then writing.
However, the famous educationist, J.A. Bright did an experiment and reported that the following order of teaching is more advantageous understanding, speaking, writing and then reading.
► Principle of proper proportion: According to this principle, an equal attention should be paid to all the aspects of teaching a language. A good teacher should maintain a balance among all the elements to achieve his/her goal.
► Principle of motivation: In the words of Anderson, “Learning will proceed best if a learner is motivated.” Motivation can be classified into two broad heads, internal motivation and external motivation, both of which are important for a learner to learn well.
A teacher must understand that the aims of teaching are different from the objectives of teaching. The following table highlights these differences:
S. No. Aim Objective
1. They are related to longterm goals.
They are related to short-term goals.
2. They express the general purpose of education.
They express the purpose of a specific curriculum at a given stage.
3. Educational planning is done according to aims.
Curriculum construction is done according to objectives.
4. They focus on the end products of education.
They provide an overview of pupil when he/she completes his/her education.
5. They are of little immediate value to the teacher in planning a particular lesson.
They are of immediate value to the teacher for planning individual lessons.
During this level, the chief objective is language development.
The four-fold objectives of teaching a language can be drawn from the aspects of language. These are as given below:
S. No. Aspect Related to Ability (Function)
1 Semantic Understanding To understand spoken language 2 Phonetic Sound, pronunciation, spelling To speak language 3 Graphic Writing To write language 4 Phonetic-cumgraphic Reading To read language
Answer the following questions by selecting the most appropriate option.
15. Which two terms are complementary?
(1) Learning and behaviour
(2) Learning and acquisition
(3) Behaviour and intelligence
(4) Behaviour and acquisition
1. The learning experiences that offer a vicarious experience to learners are
(1) real objects and specimens.
(2) abstract words, case study.
(3) display boards, film clips.
(4) field trips, observations.
2. Which approach emphasises interaction as the means and the goal of learning a language?
(3) Silent way
3. Skilled reading is ________.
4. IEC stands for ____________.
(1) Indian Education Committee
(2) Indian Educational Commission
(3) India’s Education Committee
(4) Indian Education Commission
5. According to RTE, Pupil–Teacher Ratio (PTR) at the primary level is
6. Notes can be made using a flowchart or a web-diagram.
The study skill involved is ________.
7. While acquiring L1, if an infant child says, “What dad doing?”, what stage of learning is he/she in?
(1) Stage 2
(2) Stage 3
(3) Stage 4
(4) Stage 1
8. Noam Chomsky’s reference to “deep structures” means a
(1) hidden set of grammatical rules learnt through intensive study.
(2) transformational grammar that has led in turn to increased interest in comparative linguistics.
(3) trend that English is the most common auxiliary language in the world.
(4) universal grammar underlying all languages and corresponding to an innate capacity of the human brain.
9. ‘Colloquial’ means a form that is unsuitable for
(1) informal conversation.
(2) formal conversation.
(3) informal writing.
(4) scanning during reading.
10. Who said “The aims of silent reading are to give pleasure and profit, to be able to read for interest and to get information”?
11. Which of the following is not considered an environmental factor in the teaching–learning process?
(1) Seating arrangement in the class
(2) Provision of electricity in the class
(3) Interest of the learner
(4) Location of school
12. Who strongly maintains that language is learnt by imitation of stimuli and reinforcement of correct responses?
(1) Kurt Lewin
(3) B.F. Skinner
(4) Albert Bandura
13. Who said, “Reading is a form of experience. It brings us in contact with the mind of great authors, with the written accounts of their experiences made by them in various fields.”?
(3) W.S. Gray
(4) B.S. Bloom
14. Who said, “There is no better test of knowledge of English than translation from mother tongue to English.”?