Reflection on Ideologies and My Language Biography

By Jamie(Xuan)

It might be a bit late to mention about language biography now, but today’s class really inspired me on the concept of ideologies and how they are related to my own language learning/use in real life experience.

As a Chinese, Mandarin as my native language have made up most of my life so far, and as I’ve been exploring more parts in China, the change of locations really contributes to my understandings of ideologies (which I was not even aware of at that time). Here I will share some of my experience and my thoughts.

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Dialect Integration into L2 Classrooms

Mansour Ahmed:

Hi folks,

As we delve deeper into the area of educational sociolinguistics, I hope everyone is enjoying the variety of topics that we have surveyed thus far. Today, I am going to write about dialect incorporation in L2 learning settings/curriculum. I am sure most of you, if not all, have been in L2 (or L3) teaching-learning settings one way or another, i.e. as language learner (L2ers) or as language teachers. Typically, the goal of most L2ers is to become proficient in the target language (and culture) such that they actively and appropriately can participate in a range of communicative contexts and situations. Put differently, while it is vital that L2ers achieve a superb mastery of the grammar and phonology of the TL, it is pivotal that they be Sociolinguistically/interactionally competent. Part of this sociolinguistic competency, I argue, is to have a strong command of the TL dialect(s) and/or varieties; therefore, we as teachers should give them access to informal registers and dialects that are geographically and ethnically different, particularly in foreign language contexts. While textbooks and teaching materials should be designed with this goal in mind, almost all, unfortunately, however, lack this linguistic feature for a range of political and pedagogical reasons. What’s more, most language educators adhere to the prescribed curriculum. As L2 instructors, would you supplement the curriculum and consider integrating common dialectal expressions and use into your L2 activities/teaching? I know that this may be sensitive as some languages have multiple dialects, I am curious which dialect would you choose? Would you be eclectic? Or would you choose one or two dialects over others? Ultimately, we all want our students to use the language effectively and fittingly. For instance, L2ers of Arabic should be able to use and comprehend the language well whether they are in the streets of Sana’a, Damascus, or Cairo. Similarly, L2ers of French should be able to use it suitably whether they are in Quebec City or Paris, and the list goes on.

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You Speak Mandarin, You Are Not a Shanxier

colinczayan

Before you read my post, I would like to offer some background knowledge.

  1. Standard Mandarin is the official language in China. While Chinese people use simplified characters in writing, they may speak a variety of dialects depending on where they are. These dialects are spoken in different ways. I found a video that presents how Mandarin and some dialects are spoken and sound differently. Please check it out via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynbRQeeEma4
  1. In China, 4 or 5 undergraduate students share one dormitory together, which indicates they do not have their private room.

Every time I encounter a Shanxier outside Shanxi province, they do not believe I am a Shanxier because of my inability to speak Shanxi dialect. While “a single linguistic choice can mark you as a member of (or let you affiliate with) a particular community” (Van Herk, 2012, p. 97), I therefore believe that I lose some of my identity as a Shanxier and I sometimes feel isolated because I fail to speak Shanxi dialect.

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Time for a change in the educational practice

Emmanouela Tisizi

Trying to differentiate between language and dialect is definitely not an easy task. While brainstorming in groups on the matter, criteria such as the proportion of a population that uses a language variety over another, the region where a language variety is most frequently used and the context of language use came to mind. The more our group tried to come up with examples of language use to determine whether these fell into the category of a language or a dialect, the more we started discussing issues related to power and the institutionalization of certain language varieties.

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Language vs Dialect

Kunyao Kuang

Inspired by the seminar and class discussion in class, I would like to share a similar case happened in China.

I was born in southern China, a city near Guangzhou, a Cantonese spoken area. All my family and neighborhoods speak Cantonese thus it seems that I was born to know it. Moreover, I grew up with the influential popular culture of Hong Kong since 1990s. Thus, the identity of Cantonese has rooted deeply in my mind.

When I was in primary school, Mandarin started to enter my life. The Mandarin promotion policy was carried out in 1980s, strictly adopted in 1990s among schools, administrations, transportations and all public areas. Since then, Mandarin became an official language and the others were all dialects. (An interesting point from my teammate is that she thought dialect is viewed as being subordinated to a language, containing the sense of discrimination to some extent. Language is regarded as paramount while dialects are secondary.)

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