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Identity & Ethnic group Affiliation

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Cassandra Tully

on 27 April 2014

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Transcript of Identity & Ethnic group Affiliation

Identity & Ethnic group Affiliation
Learning Beliefs

Our identity is conformed by the culture we are immersed. Therefore,
society plays an important role
not only in the process of learning a language but also in the way we perceive that language.
Identity and culture
“Languages primarily
reflect rather than create
sociocultural regularities in values and orientations”. (Stern 1983: 206)
Ethnic group affiliation
There has been a
long tradition
of observations on differences of customs and manners among ethnics groups such as, Mexicans, Ethiopians, Chinese…
The End
According to an American committee form in 1960 upon language and culture:

“1. Language is a part of culture, and must be approached with the same attitudes that govern our approach to culture as a whole.

2. Language conveys culture, so that the language teacher is also of necessity a teacher of culture.

3. Language is itself subject to culturally conditioned attitudes and beliefs which cannot be ignored in the language classroom.” (Bishop 1960: 29)

“Culture is only transmissible through coding, classifying and concentrating experience through language. A developed language therefore is a
unique and distinctive human trait.
” (Worsley 1970: 25)
The culture is carried by individuals as members of the society, and language is
intrinsic to culture
“Language is essentially rooted in the reality of the culture, the tribal life and customs of the people” ( Malinowski 1923: 305)
So, every language must be studied taking into account all of those different conditions people of
different cultures live under
: cultural context, environment… The study of a language can vary not only in social contexts but also, there is variation inside a community.
However the unification of a number of separate communities into a single speech community and the reverse process of subdivision into different speech communities, are phenomena of
social structure.
And therefore, the ethnicity among different communities is
That's why the affiliation to some
special traits
in a language are part of your ethnic group and by extension, part of your identity.
Majority vs. Minority
Within a country
Inside a community we could find two main groups.

majority group
whose members determine the language of the country and a
minority group
whose members are learning the language of that country
Majority group
The loss of Identity
“As languages disappear,
cultures die.
The world becomes inherently a less
interesting place, but we also sacrifice raw knowledge and the intellectual achievements of millennia.”

Ken Hale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, quoted in Davis, W. 1999.
“At least we have come a long way from the times when languages were repressed and forbidden in favor of the language of the dominant political or colonial power. But I believe that the matter of
preserving declining languages
should best be left to private initiative among those who have a personal interest in seeing them preserved.”

Paul Kachur, Oberheimbach, Germany
“I believe that all languages are unique and
helps to identify who we are
as a people and as an individual. It is unfortunate that most languages are on the verge of dying but that's the price of progress”. 
Namron, Barbados

Remember: each group, with its own identity is going to have
different motivations and attitudes
towards the learning of the target language.
The social majority, that is, those who hold the majority of positions of social power in a society.
They do not fear to lose some trait of their identity by speaking a language.
Minority group
According to Feagin (1984) a minority group has five characteristics: suffering
and subordination, physical and/or
cultural traits
that set them apart, and which are disapproved by the dominant group, a shared sense of
collective identity
and common burdens,
socially shared rules
about who belongs and who does not determine minority status, and tendency to
marry within
the group.
BUT a minority group can also be a scattered part of the majority group, like teenagers not following social conventions and with their own language & slang as their identity.
Immigrants and integration problems
Many immigrants
parents find difficulties
in ensuring the kind of linguistic and cultural information their children receive in school, especially in the field of the languages teachers will use with them in school.

The manner in which their mother tongue is viewed in the host community helps to secure the
and the
of immigrants and their families.
There are two different categories of pupils,
national ethnic minorities
immigrants pupils
. There are programmes designed specifically for each group.
Estonia, France, Slovenia and, as of 2008/09, the United Kingdom (England and Wales) have introduced
measures to encourage
or recommend to schools to include the languages of origin of immigrant populations in the foreign language options they offer.
The fact that these minorities group might feel
to lose some of their cultural traits,
reinforces other characteristics
that might make them feel safe about their identities, e.g. A second-generation Indian boy in England who maintains his parents' Indian accent when speaking English
Outside the country: Stereotypes
Our identity not only depends on how we see ourselves but also, on how others see us.
There have been studies that prove the
lack of correlation
between the perception of cultural characteristics and the actual characteristic a community has. Richard Robins, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis, US, has said that those different views on cultural characteristics reflect
genetic differences
between ethnic groups.
Although they are transmitted through the media as jokes mostly, they can be dangerous because they are one of the main causes of discrimination.
Stereotypes at smaller scale.
Tags given to people inside a community which defined the person by a characteristic feature.
Children in English-medium kindergarden classes were quickly
assigned identities
such as successful/unsuccessful, big/small, talkative/ quiet… And it is because of those labels/tags we imposed on them that it has an
impact on what they can do
and how they can participate in classrooms.
In schools non-native speakers might be prejudged and their identity is going to be
conditioned by those labels
. These identities could lead to the isolation and to restricted or
less powerful participation
in their classroom community.
Learner beliefs
1. It is easier for someone who already speaks a
foreign language to learn another one.

2. It is important to speak a FL with excellent accent.
3. If students learn to speak English very well, it will help them get a good job.
What type of instruction do you think is best for you?
Stern: “For over a century teachers have repeatedly been drawn to teach language as a
purely formal system
, and then had to remind themselves that their students need contact with native speakers, and that the
language class should provide an introduction
to a country and its people” (Stern 1983: 191)
They include what
learners think about themselves
, about the learning situation and about the target community (Welsey 2012, pg. 100)
Learners and teachers have strong beliefs about how to teach a language and how their learning should be delivered.
Before the actual studies of linguistics as such, language teaching was
preparatory to the study of literature
, that’s why the emphasis was on the formal study of a language, that is, written.
ESL learners valued the separation of grammar from communicative interaction much more than EFL learners.
It makes sense because
ESL learners have more opportunities
to interact with native speakers outside the classroom
EFL learners
, because of their lack of opportunities to interact with native speakers, the only place available for communication in the foreign language, is
the classroom
, therefore, they prefer the integration of grammar in communicative practice.
By: Ana Mª Alcántara
Irene Ceballos
Cassandra S. Tully

4. People who are good at math and science are
not good at learning foreign languages.


1.Identity: It is what defines a person. Society influences and marks our personality. Language is an intrinsic part both of our personality and culture.
2.Ethnic group affiliation: Inside our society we can define two different groups: majority and minority groups.
3. Stereotypes and labels: Society also defines people according to one characteristic feature, as a caricature.
4. Learner beliefs: Students and teachers have not the same view about the best way of learning and teaching a language.
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