World War II
Language is a very important component in a person’s life. It is a way of communicating a person’s thoughts and feelings to another, as well as forming bonds and relationships with others. While some people may have only one way of communicating or one language that they use in order to communicate, others have several ways of communicating. In the opening lines of chapter 13, the acquisition of a second language during World War II, was given as an example of why people may choose to acquire or learn a new language.
It is obvious from the wording of the text that learning a foreign language then was to facilitate the circumstances of communicating during war, but today, that is no longer the case. There are now many other reasons for learning a new language, two of which are globalization and migration. Given the volume of immigrants to different parts of the world, for whatever purpose, people are forced to learn other ways of communicating; they need to learn new languages.
This paper concerns itself with a case study of one such individual who is learning a second language. Using the interview that was completed, the paper will discuss the questions asked; the observations made, as well as give an analysis of the learning process that the interviewee is undergoing. Observation For this paper, I interviewed a 57-year-old woman named C. Garcia. Garcia is a Latin American woman who hails from Mexico and whose first language is Spanish.
Being in an environment where Spanish is mainly spoken (at home and at work), Garcia had very little opportunity to learn and expose herself to the English language. Considering that Garcia and her family now reside in a country where English is the predominant language, Garcia wanted to learn the language. This prompted her to enroll in English classes at the high school near her home. Since her enrollment, she has been taking English for the past two or three years albeit not continuously.
From the outset of the interview, problems in communication were apparent; the ability of the interviewer and the interviewee to communicate was hindered by several factors because of which, certain adjustments were made to facilitate understanding. On the part of the interviewer, questions were simplified, instead of using complex words, simpler words were used, while on the part of the interviewee, her ability to express herself was hindered by the fact that she lacked the necessary language tools to do so.
Most noticeable throughout the interview were the silent periods that the interviewee would go through. After having asked a question the interviewee would pause for a moment to be able to gather her thoughts and then proceed to answer the question. This was very interesting to observe, because when one talks to another who is either very comfortable speaking in English or whose first language is English, these pauses do not occur, that is, unless what is posed is a question that requires analyzing.
Aside from these periods, the interviewer also noted that the interviewee would sometimes answer the questions in a disjointed manner. This of course may be attributed to the fact that the interviewee is not very comfortable speaking English continuously with another who is more fluent in the chosen language of communication. Going into the particulars of the interview, what were mostly discussed were the areas of difficulty that she faced in learning a new language.
These revolved around the differences between Spanish and English, the difficulties in language and pronunciation, the discrimination experienced, the connection of language and cultural identity, and the importance of English. The transition from Spanish to English is both a difficult and easy one. Difficult as the interviewee puts it, because written English and spoken English is different, and because some words have multiple meanings and easy because both languages share certain words, such as moral and radio, which facilitate understanding.
Having discovered what the interviewee found difficult, the proponent was prompted to ask what she found more difficult in studying English, was it the language itself meaning the vocabulary, or was it the pronunciation, meaning the accent? In Mrs. Garcia’s case, what she found more difficult between the two was the aspect of pronunciation. Although she said that her lack of vocabulary also hinders her, her frustration lies more in not being understood by others, because she cannot properly pronounce a word or words.
Since she had answered that pronunciation was her frustration, the question of whether her accent had ever caused her to experience discrimination came up. To this she answered, that when she was trying to have her wireless computer system fixed by a technician, the technician almost hung up the phone being unable to understand her and even asked her to have her son call instead. This caused her a lot embarrassment and frustration, because it made her feel unable to deal with her own problems. The good thing about Mrs.
Garcia is that she is a very determined woman, and when asked if she feared that by gaining proficiency in English and losing her accent would cause the loss of her culture identity, she staunchly answered no, and said that she welcomed such a changed because it would increase her chances of succeeding in this country. Now, Mrs. Garcia’s says, her only problem is how to lose the accent given her advanced age. Application The discussion in chapter 13 is all about the learning process of second language acquisition, as well as the steps and difficulties that students who study them go through.
In applying the concepts of this chapter to the interview that was conducted with Mrs. Garcia there were several instances that fell squarely into some of the concepts discussed. The first deals with transfer and interlanguage. During the interview with Mrs. Garcia, transfer and interlanguage was manifested in several ways. These manifestations included the construction of her sentences, her vocabulary and her accent. Having listened to her throughout the interview, it was very apparent that English is not her first language. This is clear from the way her sentences flowed.
Her sentences did not always follow the way a “normal” sentence structure of a native English speaker would. Instead of making use of the normal noun and verb structure, as well as using descriptive words before nouns or pronouns, her sentence structures varied. She would sometimes use descriptive words after nouns; sometimes she would cut her sentences, and she often preferred using proper nouns rather than pronouns, that is, if it can be called preference and not a lack of knowledge or application of rules of the English language.
With respect to interlanguage, she formed her answers in such a way as to commit many “slips of the tongue,” and example from her interview would be her answer to a certain question where she said, “once, I was tried to get my wireless computer system fixed and the person who I was talking almost hang-up on me. ” In this portion of her answer, the omission of certain words and error in tense illustrate the level of accomplishment in the second language. Although these errors may sometimes be painful to the ears, these errors also serve as valuable lessons in further learning and understanding the second language, which is being studied.
Noticeable during the interview was Mrs. Garcia’s use of the silent period. Although her silent period was short compared to a child learning a new language, it was observed that these silent periods as the text states was used by her as processing time, to analyze what had been asked as well as a reflective period to further understand the questions. It would have been interesting to see her use of silent periods in another setting, to determine her reliance on it, but considering the constraints in the format of research, which was via interview that avenue could not further be explored.
Aside from the use of the silent period, Mrs. Garcia also utilized other stages or parts of developmental sequences, but aside from the silent period, the most prominent was her reliance on simplification. Considering that she had been studying English for some time, her proficiency was still not as good as others who had studied for the same length of time but who had, had more exposure to English speakers. This can be attributed to the environment in which she finds herself, which is her home and workplace.
In both environments she is not exposed to English, in both environments the predominant language is Spanish. This lack of exposure has actually affected her level of development, because there is no opportunity to apply the rules of the language. As a result, Mrs. Garcia makes use of what is called simplification and reduces whole sentences into chunks of words that she feels will be sufficient to get her message across. Conclusion The study of a second or additional language is not always simple. There are many things that factor into the success or failure of student.
What is interesting about the task that was given was how certain environmental factors play a major role in the successful acquisition of a second language. Reflecting on the experiences of Mrs. Garcia an important factor, which the interviewer feels lacked in her particular case, which would have greatly aided in her development and fluency in the English language is interaction. The more people interact, the more they are able to communicate and better articulate what they are trying to say. Basically, there is more output in interaction.
Having more exposure and greater output, she would have been able to learn the language much faster and her fluency would have been far superior than that, which was demonstrated during the interview. As a final note, The interviewer feels that in spite of the different methods and phases that a student passes through, the most important part of the learning process is exposure and practice, because the more mistakes they make while they are learning the language the more they will know what not to do in the future.Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com