CHAPTER 2 SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
In the previous chapter an overview of and the rationale for undertaking the study was presented. The purpose of this literature chapter is to investigate the approaches to second language acquisition. However, it is necessary to first provide a succinct understanding of the expansion of English throughout the world and the role of the primary language in second language acquisition. The aforementioned aspects are essential for this study since the review of literature emphasises the importance of primary language competence as a benchmark for second language acquisition, and the significance of being literate in English
THE EXPANSION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
English as a global language
Crystal (2003:8) postulates that from a lexical perspective, English is in fact far more a Romance language [one descended from Latin] than a Germanic language. It is widely learned and used extensively as a second language in Commonwealth countries, and many international organisations, where it is often the preferred language. Modern English, sometimes described as the first global lingua franca (Hilmarsson-Dunn 2009:50) is the dominant international language in communications, media, education, trade, science, technology, and diplomacy (Cenoz & Gorter 2008:268-270). Its expansion beyond the British Isles began with the growth of the British Empire, and by the late 19th century its spread was truly global. It is a dominant language in the United States (US), whose growing economic and cultural influence and status as a global superpower since World War 2 have significantly accelerated the expansion of the English language throughout the world (Horne & Heinemann 2009:7).
According to the Crystal (2003:65) approximately 329 million people speak English as their home language [L1]. English today is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. However, when combining native and non-native speakers English is the most widely spoken language in the world. Estimates that include English second language speakers vary greatly from 430 million to over a billion depending on how literacy or mastery is defined and measured (Crystal 2003:65). English is by far the most common second language [L2] (Saville-Troike 2012:9).
Because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as a “global language” (Crystal 2003:3), the lingua franca of the modern era. Crystal (2003:3) asserts that a language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognised in every country. He adds that such a role will be most evident in countries where large numbers of people speak the language as an L1 – in the case of English, this would mean the United States of America, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, several Caribbean countries, and a sprinkling of other territories. While English is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the language most often taught as a second language around the world. It is the language most often studied as a foreign language in over 100 countries, such as China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Egypt and Brazil; and in most of these countries it is emerging as the chief foreign language to be encountered in schools, often displacing another language in the process (Crystal 2003:5). In 1996, for example, English replaced French as the chief foreign language in schools in Algeria [a former French colony]. English is, by international treaty, the official language for aerial and maritime communications, an official language of the United Nations and many other international organisations, including the International Olympic Committee.
English has become a central language of communication in education, business, politics, government administration, the judiciary, economics, legislation, science and academia, as well as being the dominant language of globalised advertising (Sawir 2005:567; Olaoye 2013:752). Books, magazines, and newspapers written in English are available in many countries around the world. Thus, it is viewed as an indispensible international language (Honna & Takeshita 2005:375). English is associated with favourable aspects like job opportunities, status, prestige, modernity and even social mobility. A study conducted in a College of Engineering at Anna University in Chennai, India, revealed that a large number of students [86%] realised the importance and the role of English in securing jobs (Bhaskar & Soundiraraj 2013:114).
In another study conducted in a private language institute in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, the respondents indicated that they believed that people who know English have better job opportunities and an advantage over others in many areas of study (Friedrich 2000:219). The desire for learning English to get a better job or promotion indicates that English works as a means of social ascension. It also implies that in Brazil, there is a social attitude that draws people to learn the language. The social attitude equates knowing English with being more materially successful. Having status and being intelligent are associated with the knowledge of English. A possible connection between the level of English proficiency and the belief in the status of English speakers was found. This study also reflected the link between career success and good English skills. In general, the respondents pointed out that they have a feeling of uneasiness and dependence when travelling abroad for not being communicatively competent in English.
The dominance of English in higher education is viewed as a “prime driver” of language shift (Hilmarsson-Dunn 2009:40). This shift is occurring globally because more people wish to reap the benefits of learning English, resulting in an increase in English teaching throughout the world. The fact that English is increasing as a medium of instruction at higher education levels, and it is the language of most academic publications; results in the need to teach English to a high level in schools. Thus, the policy for language education in many countries, particularly in Europe, is to teach English as the first and compulsory foreign language in schools (Hilmarsson-Dunn 2009:41). Although the medium of instruction in most Thai schools is Standard Thai, English is a required subject from upper elementary school (Huebner 2006:33). At the higher levels of education, it is the language of specialised knowledge.
English is the vehicle of globalisation and through it came information and communication technology [ICT] which has a pervasive influence on education delivery (Olaoye 2013:752). Information and communication technology, through television, radio and satellite communication, on-line services, e-mail, and computer teleconferencing, has brought the world to the doorstep of the youth and other computer literate people. These advances in technology have implications for national languages versus English. Many academic journals are now on-line. These journals reach a wider audience if they are in English than if published in other languages.
The global trends towards the use of English have been exacerbated by various governmental initiatives as a result of a demand for more English. Learning English is demand-driven (Hilmarsson-Dunn 2009:42). People will choose to learn it if it can bring positive benefits. In Japan, for instance, there is a realisation that globalisation means that the Japanese people need a far higher level of English proficiency than has hitherto been the case (Honna & Takeshita 2005:363). Honna and Takeshita (2005:363-365) emphasise that the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has felt the need now, even more than ever, to make drastic changes in the nation’s English education. The above authors affirm that Japanese nationals are all expected to acquire certain levels of English abilities, English is to be used frequently as a medium of instruction in English classes and that all English teachers are to acquire English skills.
The expansion of English in the Nordic countries [Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway] has been especially significant in the last twenty years (Hilmarsson-Dunn 2009:39). The consequence of globalisation on the language education policies of the Nordic countries is that the teaching of English is increasing at primary and secondary levels. English has also gained high status in several other countries. Some of these countries include Brazil (Friedrich 2000:215-223), Vietnam (Walkinshaw & Duong 2012:1-17), India (Bhaskar & Soundiraraj 2013:111-116), Bangkok (Huebner 2006:31-51), Hong Kong (Kan & Adamson 2010:167-176), and Nigeria (Olaoye 2013:748-753).
The English language in South Africa
South Africa’s language policy has already been discussed in chapter one. However, in this Chapter it is imperative to contextualise our language diversity. The 1996, 2001 and 2011 South African census reflected the following numbers of home language speakers [N = 40 583 573 in 1996; N = 44 819 778 in 2001; and N = 51 770 560 in 2011], according to the 11 official languages (Statistics South Africa 2006:1-5, Statistics South Africa 2003:16; Statistics South Africa 2012:18).
The above statistics unequivocally reveal that the vast majority of South Africans (76,5% in 1996; 77,9% in 2001; and 75% in 2011) have an African language as a home language. English is spoken as a home language by almost 10% of the population. When comparing the distribution of the South African population by language most often spoken at home in the 2011 Census, English is fourth. It is also important to note that the 2011 Census data indicate that the most commonly-spoken home language is undoubtedly isiZulu, which is spoken by 22,7% of the population, followed by isiXhosa (16%), and Afrikaans (13,5%).
When considering the English language in relation to the other ten official languages as indicated in the 2011 Census data, it should be noted that English has no greater status. However, it can be explicitly stated that in practice English is far more widely used. Although English is the primary language of only 8,6% in 1996, 8,2% in 2001, and 9,6% in 2011 of the general South African population, it is the most commonly used second language, making it a lingua franca within the country (Horne & Heinemann 2009:2). Given the fact that currently only 9,6% of the South African population speak English as a primary language, it is surprising that South Africa features sixth when comparing countries with the highest populations of native English speakers [3,7 million] (Crystal 2003:62-65). Additionally, because of its role as a unifying and integrating force in South Africa, it can be viewed as one of the major South African official languages.
Furthermore, as a result of its expanding dominance internationally, learning English can be considered as an essential need to promote the language even further. However, it is worth taking cognisance of a situation in which the ongoing, surreptitious depletion of the indigenous languages may in the long term create a division between those who can speak English and those who cannot. Indigenous languages may become an obstacle. They may no longer function as independent and rich languages of the various communities. Ultimately, this may threaten South Africa’s democracy and it may be too late to introduce indigenous languages. Nevertheless, the above discussion provides substantial evidence supporting the view that it is important for learners to learn English. Being able to speak the language is not sufficient to compete globally. It is crucial that learners also develop reading and writing skills in English.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.2 EDUCATION FOR ALL AND THE LAUNCH OF THE SOUTHERN AND EAST AFRICAN CONSORTIUM FOR MONITORING EDUCATIONAL QUALITY
1.3 LANGUAGE, EDUCATION AND CHANGE IN SOUTH AFRICA
1.4 THE RESEARCH SETTING AND DEMARCATION OF THE RESEARCH
1.5 ANALYSIS OF THE PROBLEM
1.6 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.7 THE AIM AND SUBSIDIARY AIMS OF THE STUDY
1.8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.9 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
1.10 RESEARCH PROGRAMME
CHAPTER 2 SECOND LANGAUGE ACQUISITION
2.2 THE EXPANSION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
2.3 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: INSIGHTS AND ISSUES FOCUSING ON BILINGUALISM AND MULTILINGUALISM
2.4 SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
CHAPTER 3 ILLUMINATING READING AND WRITING DEFICITS: FACTORS THAT IMPACT ON THE ENGLISH SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNERS’ READING AND WRITING ACHIEVEMENTS
3.2 READING AND WRITING IN THE HOME LANGUAGE: PREREQUISITES FOR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
3.3 FACTORS RELATED TO ENGLISH SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNERS’ READING AND WRITING ACHIEVEMENTS
CHAPTER 4 EXPLORATION OF RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.2 THE RESEARCH DESIGN
4.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.4 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
CHAPTER 5 DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
5.1 INTRODUCTION 67
5.2 QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
5.3 QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
5.4 SUMMARY OF THE DATA GLEANED FROM THE QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE COMPONENTS OF THE STUDY
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND LIMITATIONS
6.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
6.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
6.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
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