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Show how language use reflects social identity and discuss any implications you can draw for second language teaching - Essay Example

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Show how language use reflects social identity and discuss any implications you can draw for second language teaching

As the world becomes more global through communication and immigration, teaching a second language begins to have a greater impact on our society.
Language not only expresses thoughts and ideas, it creates a representation of the speaker to their audience. As an example, respect is an aspect of that can be gained through speech and illustrates the broader relationship between power and language. Power is the degree to which one agent is able to control the behavior of the other. Physical strength, age, wealth, sex, or profession, are all unspoken ways to convey power. However, the introduction of a second language creates another center of power. That center derives its power from sociolinguistic solidarity. Using non-solidary forms express distance and formality, while solidary forms express intimacy and familiarity. Solidarity can be achieved in cooperation where communicators share some common attribute, such as attending at the same school or working in the same profession. However, to be a successful communicator in a linguistically diverse environment, it is necessary to know the languages, their nuances, and develop an appreciation for the power derived from language solidarity.
A member in a community may have several groups with which he wishes to identify and associate with. The identity that the person creates for each group will be associated with their verbal communications, and there are certain linguistic forms that will construct each identity. People create their linguistic systems to resemble those of the in-group with which they wish to identify. A person participates in many different speech communities that vary according to time, place, audience, and participants. In a speech community, each individual has a range of social identities that creates different roles for all of the different subgroups within the community. The range of linguistic varieties expressed by these relationships is called the communicative repertoire. This repertoire, whether oral or written, can include different languages, dialects, or registers. Language serves as a symbol of association on several levels. On the national level, language attachment can serve an important political function. On a local level, language is a symbol of attachment to a community. Within a social setting, language can be an in-group virtue.
Foreign languages are a part of our communicative repertoire. When a person learns a second language, they become a member of a new cultural group within a social structure. They not only learn the appropriate linguistic forms, but it also extends their social identity to include other speakers of the new language. For the community as a whole, socialization through language learning creates conformity to social norms and relates the culture of the community.
Teaching a second language encompasses more than just conveying the mechanics and the linguistics. It is an opportunity to construct an identity as a social being. In teaching a second language, it becomes vital to present the context, slang, and cultural attitudes that may be a part of the language. A second language is more than just a means of communication. It identifies the learner as a member of a unique cultural group, establishes their ...Show more


Language is the single greatest difference between man and the animal kingdom. The intricate system of sounds made by humans has the power to convey thoughts, emotions, and history. Through the expression of language, individuals can situate themselves in relationship to others, define their in-group, and designate centers of power…
Author : mcdermottmittie
Show how language use reflects social identity and discuss any implications you can draw for second language teaching essay example
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