Complex relationship between language and identity

complex relationship between language and identity

These people find it difficult to fit to such setting due to language differences. For such people to identify with people within that social setting. Relationships among language, culture and identity have become a favourite topic Edward Tylor () defines culture that “as complex whole which includes. language and identity from the perspective of researches made regarding the theme, . This complex relationship between language, culture, and identity.

Students who are disempowered by their school experiences will not develop a strong academic foundation nor positive self-esteem. Two projects, the Carpinteria program discussed by Cummins and the Kamehameha project Tharp and Gallimore, are good examples of how the culture of the learners is incorporated into the learning activities.

Cummins draws a difference in power relations, categorizing them into coercive and collaborative power relations. Coercive power relations are used by the dominant group to maintain the status quo whereas collaborative power relations can serve to empower and not marginalize. Thus, in this view, power is not a predetermined quality but can be negotiated and mutually generated in interpersonal and intergroup GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies relations.

By extension, relations of power can be exercised to maintain, constrain or enable the range of identities negotiated in the classroom or in the community. Drawing upon her research of immigrant women living in Canada, and her reading in social theory, in particular, the work of Weedonshe draws on the poststructuralist conception of social identity as a multi-layered construct, subject to change and negotiation and a site of struggle.

She argues for the use of the term in vestment, rather than motivation. She states that the traditional concepts of motivation dominant in the field of SLA do not take into account the complex relationships of power, identity and language learning.

The term investment more accurately signals the socially and historically constructed relationship of the subjects in her study and the ambivalent attitude they have towards learning the target language. Drawing on Ogbuthe return on investment in learning a language must be seen to commensurate with effort expended on learning. The language learner is both positioned by relations of powers, and resistant to that positioning, and may even set up a counter-discourse that puts him in a more powerful rather than marginalized position.

They exist in complex social environments with overwhelmingly asymmetrical power relations, and are subjected to multiple discourses. They constantly wrestle with power positioning - resisting positioning, attempting positioning, deploying discourses and counterdiscourses.

They are constantly conducting delicate social negotiations in order to obtain viable identities. Like Peirce, McKay and Wong conclude that it is important that we recognize the language learner as a complex social being with multiple identities and that the classroom, especially the ESL classroom, be seen as a contestatory discursive site.

Anything less, they argue, would make the task of developing helpful educational practices more daunting in these times of rapid demographic change. Both research studies by Peirce and McKay and Wong show that the identities of the learners are a site of constant struggle, multi-faceted and non-unitary in nature. It can be a complex social practice that engages the social identities of the language learners in ways that have received inadequate attention to date in SLA theory. Research on Language and Identity in the Local Malaysian Context A review of literature shows that there have been a few research studies conducted locally in the Malaysian context on language and identity.

Asmah Haji Omar states that interest among Malaysian sociolinguists in language and identity seems to be confined to studies on national identity Asmah Haji Omar, This is due in part to the gradual implementation of the national language policy in Malaysia since its Independence in The third generation of Sindhis who have undergone the national system of schooling where Malay is the medium of instruction, have no proficiency in the Sindhi language.

Buoyant Brussels: Language and identity

A conclusion derived from this study is that Sindhi is no longer an identity factor for the Malaysian Sindhis to characterize their cultural identity. Most of the subjects responded that they were using the language they were educated in, which was English, as they had been educated in English medium schools.

However, there was a gradual trend towards reversing the language shift when it came to their children. Several Chinese and Tamil subjects responded that they were ensuring that their children learn their mother tongues through private tuition, indicating a revival of pride and interest in their ethnic and cultural identity. Asmah states that this can be interpreted as a conscious rebirth of their ethnic heritage Asmah H.

In the third study, Asmah H.

complex relationship between language and identity

Data collection comprised interviews with 12 respondents from 3 ethnic groups Malays, Chinese and Indians and a questionnaire survey of 83 university students. As a result, an individual has multiple linguistic identities which are projected with various degrees of strength. Asmah states that all in all, identity building comes with nurturing.

complex relationship between language and identity

It is a result of comparing and contrasting, and does not find a breeding ground in homogeneity. For the Malays, the Malay language seems to have GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies quite a stable existence throughout their lives because of the indigeneity factor of the language, and the fact that speakers use the Malay language as the national language, and as the medium of instruction in their school education.

For minority groups, movement away from the original linguistic group is not always towards the majority group. There is a preference for the language which has a higher prestige in the context of the wider world as seen in the movement towards English. Another factor that Asmah cites to explain the defection towards English is its perceived neutrality. Unlike the vernacular languages, English does not possess a first-language speech community in Malaysia, hence movement towards the language means a membership without other cultural constraints A recent doctoral research study by Lee, Su Kimset out to investigate the impact of the English language on the construction of the sociocultural identities of a selected group of ESL learners in Malaysia.

Using a qualitative research approach, 14 Malaysian participants were interviewed using critical ethnography research methods Carspecken,personal narratives and a questionnaire. The findings reveal that in a multicultural, post-colonial society like Malaysia, identity issues are complex and multi-layered.

Identity shifts take place frequently in strategic and non-strategic ways, and identity constructions of the participants are heavily dependent on the localized contexts. The participants possess a range of diverse identities depending on the contexts and the reference groups they are interacting with, and have to subtly manage the complexities of their multiple identities in order to fit in or belong to the group they were interacting with. The findings revealed that within certain contexts, it is the non-use rather than the use of the English language that enhances conformity and acceptance.

Using the English language within certain contexts where there is resentment towards the English language may bring about hostility, marginalization and even alienation. Effective acquisition of the English language then acquires a new meaning as an effective user in post-colonial multicultural societies means someone who knows not just how and when to use it but also when NOT to use it.

The findings also reveal that knowing English affects identity in non-interactive ways: Even if no immediate pedagogies arise from research with a contextualist orientation, creating and fostering a critical awareness is an important step taken. Teachers and practitioners should be aware that the classroom is not a neat, self- contained mini-society isolated from the outside world but an integral part of the larger society where the reproduction of many forms of domination and resistance based on gender, ethnicity, class, race, religion and language is a daily event.

In Malaysia, it is not uncommon to hear English language teachers complain that their students need to practise the target language more often outside the classroom. This GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies does not mean that teachers should not encourage their students to use the target language but that they should be aware of the problems their students may face beyond the classroom and teach their students coping strategies.

This is more vital especially with students in particular settings who may experience resentment when they use English.

Language Use and Identity - Sneak Peek

There is a need for more exploration and reflection on how to develop and organize pedagogies to help students in such settings and a need for more appropriate classroom approaches based on a sharper awareness of learners and the complex problems they face outside the classroom. Teachers should engage in self-reflection and examine their own teaching foundations and experiences and cultural biases.

The cultural underpinnings of language curricula and teaching must be examined further particularly so in intercultural solutions in which participants are negotiating their sociocultural identities as well as the curriculum.

In conclusion, the theoretical perspectives and research studies discussed above suggest a distinctively inseparable relationship between language, culture and identity. References Asmah Haji Omar In papers presented at the Conference on Bilingualism and National Development pp. Asmah Haji Omar Linguistic expressions and identity features: An investigation into the place of identity in the individual and the group.

The economics of linguistic exchanges. Social science information, 16 A critical study of learning to teach. The Carpinteria preschool program: Title VII second year evaluation report. The poetics and politics of ethnography pp. University of California Press. A framework for intervention. Harvard Educational Review, 56 1 Social cohesion and alienation: Minorities in the United States and Japan.

complex relationship between language and identity

Westview Press Fishman, J. An international sociological perspective. Multiculturalism as the normal human experience. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 7 44 A qualitative study of the impact of the English language on the construction of the sociocultural identities of ESL speakers. Multiple Identities in a multicultural world: Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 2 3 Multiple discourses, multiple identities: Investment and agency in second-language learning among Chinese adolescent immigrant students.

Harvard Educational Review, 66 3 Creating strategic learning environments for students. Theory to practice, 26 2 Change as the goal of educational research. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 18 4 Language, identity and the ownership of English.

Minority education and caste: The American system in cross- cultural perspective.

complex relationship between language and identity

Variability in minority school performance: A problem in search of an explanation. Anthropology an Education Quarterly, 18 4 Social identity, investment and language learning. The process of ethnogenesis. The interpretative ethnography of education: At home and abroad. Cultural dialogue and schooling in Schoenhausen and Roseville: Anthropology and Education Quarterly18 The American cultural dialogue and its transmission. For other groups, language may originally not have been a distinctive feature at all, such as with Armenian Christians from Turkey.

In Turkey, which is predominantly Muslim, they would define themselves first and foremost as Christians. When groups of them moved to Brussels in the late eighties, they felt that this was not a distinctive feature among a majority of Christians, which is why language gradually did become an important marker of their identity.

The former illustrates that the relationship between language and identity is not so straightforward and constantly subject to change. When people migrate, the constant interaction between different groups causes original group borders to fade and to shift. The grandson of a Portuguese migrant in Anderlecht may feel closer to his Brussels skateboarding friends than to other Portuguese, even though they share a language.

It turned out that language but also nationality was an important determinant for French speaking inhabitants in Brussels, making this group mainly French speaking Belgian, which is why it is not easy for non-Belgian French speakers to access this group. Language features less heavily with Dutch speakers, but nationality is very important to them. So what is important to the allochtonous population?

Moroccans form into groups based on language first of all, even though social status is also significant but nationality to a lesser extent so.

The Moroccan population is becoming more and more heterogeneous, interest in religion and politics is also higher than for the average Brussels citizen. The latter is also the case for the Turkish population, who on the other hand also stress nationality, which explains a close Turkish community.

The results for Southern Europeans illustrate a heterogeneous group, for whom language and nationality are less important than common interests and social status. These are undoubtedly simplistic generalisations, but they provide a good insight into how language groups perceive each other. Generally we can see that Belgians are attributed with more positive characteristics than non-Belgians.

The scores for friendliness are less high, but follow the same pattern. Finally, we get a separation whereby Brussels French speakers and Walloons are seen as humourous and Dutch speakers and Flemish considered hard working and multilingual.

Language and identity

The rest of Brussels inhabitants score low on these three characteristics. The largest differences can be observed for the characteristics of arrogance and threat. Arrogance seems to be mainly a matter for non-French speakers, with Moroccans and eurocrats seen as the most arrogant of the Brussels population.

People feel mostly threatened by Moroccans. Turkish and Flemish people evoke a feeling of threat to a lesser extent. If you measure the status of a language by its official recognition, French and Dutch are high on the ladder, as they are the only languages allowed in the local administration and education. Languages that have a fixed place in the school curriculum also obtain a high status, because they are taught and spoken outside the region s of its native speakers.

Apart from that, you can also consider the various domains in which a language is used and whether the language produces any cultural output.