Language and Culture



The articles read this week include Participation Structures in a Reading Lesson with Hawaiian Children: Analysis of a Culturally Appropriate Instructional Event by Kathryn Hu-Pei Au, What No Bedtime Story Means: Narrative Skills at Home and at School by Shirley Brice Heath, and Native American Youth Discourses on Language Shift and Retention: Ideological Cross-currents and Their Implications for Language Planning by Teresa L. McCarty, Mary Eunice Romero-Little, and Ofelia Zepeda. In light of the discussions and presented in these articles, the views and opinions of my group members Youngjin, Myoung-Hwan, Yunjoo, and DaEun are accommodated. I also got the opportunity to engage in an informal action research with my friend Ki Sung on the impact of the American education system on his identity as an international student from South Korea.

Reflecting on Aus article, my opinion was that the opportunities given to students to participate in their reading lessons in line with their Hawaiian culture offered them the chance to improve their language and subsequent performance (Au 93). We met as a group and talked about this. Accordingly, Youngjin affirmed that children are quick learners and it is always good to start them off with a language that directly links to their culture. Myoung-Hwan and Yunjoo stated that the acquisition of a particular language among children plays an instrumental role in their performance. DaEun was of the opinion that participation structures for language development among children should be expanded, but should remain focused on the immediate culture. My group members confirmed my opinion by agreeing with the view that children should be offered more platforms for language growth in their reading lessons, and this should be anchored on their cultural aspects.

In tandem with Heaths article, my opinion is that language development among children varies across different communities and is significantly influenced by the linkage between oral traditions and the use of written materials in the learning process (Heath 53). Group members reacted to this view with their own opinions. For instance, Youngjin stated that the adjustment to language and the performance of children in the school environment begins from their communitys commitment to ensuring they can talk appropriately both from an oral perspective and a written material perspective. Myoung-Hwan echoed this opinion by talking about the relevance of oral traditions in the learning process of children. They need this to appreciate their culture and language. Yunjoo and DaEun pointed out that the time could have come for different communities to get back to basics in terms of teaching their children appropriate language using strategies such as bed time stories. All these views confirmed my opinions hence leading to a mutual agreement on the topic.

The article by McCarthy, Romero-Little, and Zepeda drove me to the opinion that most native languages and becoming endangered at an alarming rate probably because the current crop of youths are ashamed of them or are not just proud using them (McCarty, Romero-Little and Zepeda 666). During the group discussion, Youngjin noted that many youths in the contemporary society have lost their original identities because of the infrequent levels at which they use their native languages. More so, Myoung-Hwan and DaEun asserted that the whole blame for the apparent disappearance of native languages should be put on parents because most of them are not keen to bequeath the same culture on their children. Yunjoo pointed out that the increasing level of globalization has played an instrumental role in neutralizing societies, and thus the endangerment of native languages could be understood from this perspective. My group members confirmed my opinions, as they relate to the influence of both parents and youths in the usage of their native languages.


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Moving from one country to another for the sake of educational matters or any other purpose affects the identity of an individual in terms of language and culture. To find out more on this aspect, I talked to my friend Ki Sung, an international student at UCSD from South Korea. In the course of my conversation with Sung, I learnt several lessons that relate directly to the effect of language and culture on the identity of any given individual.

The most significant lesson I learnt is that language plays a role in influencing the culture of international students. Sung noted that he had to learn English, as the second language every day when he first came to the U.S. as an international student. This has influenced his identity in the sense that he is able to interact with other students freely using a standard language of communication. It is easier fitting into the culture and learning new values that change him as a person. Therefore, his own views as an individual have changed a bit as he is more ambitious and focused on the attainment of goals. I learnt that he has learnt to accept individualism over the group think that he had commonly associated with as an individual.

I must note that it was a wonderful experience talking to Sung about the influence of language on his identity as an international student from South Korea. The views presented by Sung resonate effectively with sociology as a course in relation to the importance of accommodations associated with students from different cultures. Teachers need to be trained in such a way that they are able to cater for the needs of students from different cultural backgrounds. This goes down to the nature of the language used by teacher in a multicultural education setting.

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