English as a language dates back to Europe where it descended from the French and the Anglo Saxons. Later, after the discovery of America, British colonies were created and hence the language spread and became the mother tongue of the country which came to be known as the United States of America.
Presently, it is being taught as a second language to various first language speakers not only in USA but across the globe. With the exception of some differences in a few spellings and ways of pronunciation with regard to American English and British English, English as a complete language taught in the world is the same. Like various test standards such as ILETS, ESOL competencies have been made as a standard to teach orthographic, phonological, structural and linguistic differences to students at varying level of education in United States.
As a result of this, bilingual differences are learnt and different assessment procedures are made that help analyze and teach English as a second language to students.
Different models of the ESOL program have been made which assist in learning.
The report will elaborate the standard competencies to be discussed and what they are based on. It will determine differences in characteristics of bilingualism and the experiment conducted to determine orthographic differences and interpretation based on homophones and graphic patterns of words to find out how the first language speakers encode English as a second language.
How English was created and what standards exist within the United States itself will be discussed to have an overview of English as a first language then eventually a second language taught.
English Language has descended from the Anglo-Saxon up to this time, dating hundreds of years back, there are various words relating to Latin and Norman French (Spalding, 1854). English travelled through its course in North America with America’s discovery in the fifteenth century. The British came along with their language and with the eradication of Red Indians; English soon became the language of America with the new settlers as its residents and eventually becoming nationals.
English Language spoken in Europe falls into about five groups and is further distributed into three types; namely, the Celtic, Cymr and Gaelic .However, the forms of language presently in use are classified into two other groups called Gothic and the Classical Roman (Spalding, 1854).
In the United States, English spoken is categorized into Standard English (as that which is spoken with a proper form) and non-standard English being characterized by slangs and colloquial. According to Dicker (2003), linguistics name different forms of language as, ‘varieties’, whereas, traditionally it had been known as, ‘dialects’. A way of stereotyping had previously been having a name of non- Standard English as ‘Black English’, now popularly known as, ‘African American Vernacular English’ (AAVE), however, it is not only in use by the African Americans and not all of them speak this form (Dicker 2003). Research has proven it to be associated with Caribbean Creoles who got to have this form of language through an amalgamation of linguistics. Different forms and standards have been emerging in wake of diversities in major cities where people have been coming for settling and employment opportunities.
Many standards have been observed as a result of assimilation, acculturation, and cultural pluralism thus far in the United States. Herskovits precisely describes acculturation as the study of cultural transmission process, whereas, Redfield and Linton elaborate it as a phenomenon when different groups of cultures come in contact with an original existing culture witnessing changes in it’s original pattern (Dicker 2003).
As a result of immigrant settling in America, language loss has been occurring as well, also because of some immigrants’ strong reluctance to learn the language of the place they start residing in.
Cultural competency is a phenomenon characterized by harmonizing aspect of every day living in terms of behavior, attitudes, and policies. They exist in a system to enable work and professionalism in a cross cultural situation. In a country like the United States, such cultural competency is important to enable the functioning of diversity in the environment so that some room could be created for smooth functioning of daily life.
Second language learning students in the United States are now required to graduate with an ESOL Endorsement (English Speakers to Other Languages). This refers to students of grades six to twelve who get certification in English Language Arts, Elementary and Exceptional Education etcetera. It is also related to those students who have been transfer students or freshmen and will graduate in 2004 and onwards (Anonymous).
Competency 2 refers to practices in reading. The requirement is regarding teaching phonemic differences of words and their expressions. It further elaborates the need of identifying phonemic differences of words from academic language and informal language, such as phonetic analyses, patterns and rules of the English Language. Orthographic skills are essential as made prudent by this competency. Orthography is the skill or the art of writing words and letters properly as laid down by the standard rule of English. For instance, writing a sentence would require different form of letters, whereas, letters in a heading would be written in a different form. For example, the heading such as the following would be written with ‘o’ of ‘of’ in small letter; ‘The Economy of USA in Modern World’, whereas, had it been a sentence it would have been written as’ The economy of USA in the modern world. Here, the difference of headings and sentences arises where headings have a difference in format regarding some words and is not written with a ‘full stop (.)’, therefore, punctuation differences also exist, making the structure of words different.
Homophone differences are to be understood by second language learners as understanding could vary with varying levels of interpretation. In 2003, a category judgment task was conducted to test first language orthographic influence (Bassetti & Cook, 2005). Two ESL control groups were based on the Koreans and Chinese. It was thought that both in comparison have difference in competencies of comprehension while reading. Target words were given with a phonological and graphical manipulation to be interpreted by the participants. Here the target words were homophones of the category member words, such as, ‘rows’ instead of ‘rose’ for the category of ‘flowers’. Graphically manipulated words that were given were visually similar but were not homophones, such as, ‘fees’ for ‘feet’. Accordingly, the experimenters were of the view that both the groups would respond differently to the two different types of graphic and phonetic manipulation (Bassetti & Cook, 2005). Category judgment performance was affected by graphic and groups. The Chinese made errors in terms of false responses to graphically similar words, on the other hand, the Koreans made errors regarding homophonic words. Therefore, according to Bassetti and Cook, the differences arise because of semantic interpretation and decoding and they are based on the people’s first language orthographic experiences in their life.
Morphemic analysis and paraphrasing is an essential part of ESOL Competency 2 where active and passive speech essentials are needed to be learnt. Likewise, bilingualism; characterized by thinking and speaking two languages, often results in expected loss of words of the native language; however, there is no loss or a negative impact on future potential profession or higher studies. Slight lack of second language knowledge slows down the fluency and thinking process.
On the other hand, globalization is one of the factors paving way to bilingualism where international education is becoming important in keeping people abreast with the present world requirements. Here, authentic reading and writing becomes an important part of learning the second language.
As a result of becoming bilingual and learning a second language, acculturation has taken place in not just the country where that second language is spoken but also other countries where it is taught. Some might fear the loss of their original culture because of this process as people have started adapting from other cultures whose language they tend to learn, hence, the world is in fact becoming more of a global village each day. There is widespread outsourcing and off shoring taking place because of second language learning as business processes then become cost effective for countries such as USA and UK. Call Centers are emerging examples of cost saving business activity. Examples of countries where outsourcing is being done are; Philippines, Pakistan and India, where English Language learners are numerous and call centers are being set up.
Competency 5 is based on application of the language as a teaching tool. The objective of bilingual programs is to enhance English language academic literacy. For bilingual education students are initially taught in their native language before being transferred to complete English based classes. The purpose is to make them acquainted to a second language so that an understanding is developed at an early stage and that they are able to interpret their language into another.
The way of teaching English as a second language is to have research based material for teaching so that students learn to have proficiency in learning and have fluency even in the second language.
According to “An Overview of Undergraduate Program Models” (Dehghanpisheh), a survey of ESL programs at twenty eight American universities was conducted. It was found out that their programs could be broken down into four models, namely, ‘The Traditional Model’, ‘The Conservative Model’, ‘The Bridging Model’ and ‘The Progressive Model’. However, universities like University of Oklahoma, Stanford University and Northwestern University were not a part of such a classification as they did not have any special ESL models or programs for second language learning students and mainly had American students speaking the native language.
There are seven standards of ESL or English as a Second Language. According to these requirements, the teachers themselves should be aware of the basic language concepts and therefore, should be able to serve as an advocate to students as learners to second language. The teachers should also know both formal and informal assessment procedures and factors that affect such students.
Competency 6 of ESOL is about applying knowledge of the development of language and assessment into instructional practices. Various cognitive and socio affective strategies are in use to facilitate learning and learning skills. Cognitive strategies are those which involve students’ natural thinking process and intellectual abilities, socio affective strategies, on the other hand, relate to those which are nonchalant in nature and involve a very non academic style of teaching; rather a bond or state of friendliness is created between the student and the teacher.
There are various ways of non cognitive teaching; it could be asking the students to write autobiographies or asking them to analyze their own work and set parameters or targets in terms of what they think is the right way of writing. Self analysis is one of the ways of improving as people tend to be good critiques of their own work.
Various socio affective strategies could be used such as involving the entire class to rate their peers or dividing students into small groups to solve problems in the class etcetera.
It is often thought and said by students that the traditional lecture based teaching style tends to be boring and it in fact, at times does. However, when instructors interact more with students and have more of a less traditional approach to teaching is able to mingle with students. It could be in the form of interacting through electronic medium such as e-mails of even email groups like yahoo groups to upload important material taught in class. A teacher who is accessible to students through emails and not just the campus office rather has a friendlier relationship with students and, therefore, students tend to learn more from him or her as opposed to getting an appointment before hand to discuss issues.
According to Federal and State laws, it has been authorized that public school education should suffice the needs to English Language Learners (ELLs).According to ‘Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,’ discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, color and nationality is prohibited. Therefore, no person should be discriminated or refused to avail the benefits of participating in education or educational activities (Salsberry & Smiley, 2007).
‘Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,’ lays emphasis on a second language learning student’s education needs rather than his fluency or command over English. Therefore, if a student is a foreigner or speaker of some other language, he cannot be neglected of his educational rights even though he would be learning the English Language or not very proficient at it.
In the year 1970, The Office of Civil Rights issued a memorandum to school districts to make them aware of their responsibilities towards language minority students. According to this memorandum, minority students were given a right to avail the same education as that been acquired by the Native American English speaking students. This memorandum was later updated in 1991.
In 1982, the Supreme Court made a decision according to which undocumented children are not to be neglected of their basic right to acquire education. Therefore, public schools have no right to make any decision on their own, not either to reveal their parents’ undocumented status or to neglect these ELLs (Plyler v. Doe).
According to Salsberry and Smiley (2007), Castaneda v. Pickard (1981) was the most significant case regarding the language minority issue. The plaintiffs are said to have told that Raymondville, Texas, Independent School’s District was discriminating against Mexican Americans and it’s language programs were violating EEOA. Therefore, in order to judge any school’s acquiescence EEOA rules, The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals made standards based on three criteria named as; ‘Theory’, ‘Practice’ and ‘Results’. According to ‘Theory’, the schools are supposed to continue an educational program which is legitimate and not improper, ‘Practice’ suggests that the program be implemented with instructional practices and required personnel for its cause, and lastly, as made effective with the third criteria, any school is not to continue any program that does not reap results.
In conclusion, it is at the discretion of any country’s law makers to make education highly accessible or to suppress it raising the issue of language minorities. This further dilapidates the situation and breaks education standards into various other educational standards. This is one of the reasons why some of the developing nations do not have uniformity in their level of education and is found to be in shambles.
On the other hand, the standard of education in the United States is well guarded also because of the proper law and order situation prevailing for minority language students or ELLs. Proper rights have been given to such students and therefore, a uniform standard of education could be seen. There is no doubt that all minorities are able to avail their right to good education no matter what origin they belong to.
As a result of the cognitive, Meta cognitive and socio effective strategies implemented for teaching, ELLs are at ease of learning in American Institutes, provided the rights given by the state over the decades.
Anonymous. “ESOL Endorsement Information Sheet”. Office of Clinical Experiences. Retrieved on June 28, 2008 from: http://reach.ucf.edu/~edintern/main%20pages/ESOL.html
Bassetti, B. & Cook, V.J. (2005). Second Language Writing Systems. Multilingual Matters. Publishing. 327-330.
Dehghanpisheh, E. (1987). An Overview of Undergraduate Program Models. Retrieved on June 28, 2008 from: http://www.jstor.org/pss/3586506
Dickerm, S.J. (2003). Languages in America: A Pluralist View. Multilingual Matters Publishing. 7-38.
Salsberry, T. & Smiley, P. (2007).Effective Schooling for English Language Learners.
Spalding, W. (1854).The History of English Literature: With an Outline of the Origin and Growth. Kessinger Publishing 2007. 99-110.