The Role of Home Environment in Second Language Learning
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There has been a close relationship between language, culture and society. All of them are inter related with one another and are influenced by one another. The study will focus on the relationship of home environment that is part of society and the learning of second language. For showing this relationship in the area of Malakand Dargai forty language students and four language teachers were taken from two language institutes (Modern English Language Institute & Oxford English language Institute). The study is both qualitative and quantitative in the sense that numerical data as well as narrative data has been collected. Data was collected through close ended questionnaires and interviews. The findings shows that yes there is close relationship between home environment and second language learning, that home environment plays a vital role in the learning of second language as it does in first language acquisition. There are some factors of home that deeply influence second language learning, like educational, economical and social background of family and the most effective of them are educational and economical background of family. An educated and good financed family support second learning effectively, that is why there is said to be close relation between second language learning and home environment
Environment is the surroundings of a person. Environment is what a man lives in: the people whom he makes contact, the situation in which he lives. According to Peter Trudgil (1974, pag27) there are two types of environment: one is physical or geographical and the second one is social environment. One is deeply affected by both kinds of these environments in his social life, in his manner, in his academic performance and his language and his each field of life.
Physical or geographical environment is the geographical elements that surround a person. The area where one lives, it has deep effect on one’s personality. One is deeply influenced by his geographical situation in his manner and in language. For example people from mountainous areas are considered to be very much hard and rough in their manner and language. They would have more names for mountainous elements. They would be more aware of mountainous life and their language would consist of mountainous elements: places names, animal names, trees names etc will be the most part of their language. On the other hand people from plan areas will be more soft and gentle in their manner and language. They will be more flexible and dynamic in their norms and traditions as compare to those of mountainous people. All these characteristics are expressed through their language. So we can say that language is the mirror of one’s personality and one’s way of life.
Secondly we have social environment that cover a vast part of one’s way of life. Social environment consist of many categories, like one’s culture, religion, race and one’s home. As we know that one’s first language is the reflection of all these terms. One’s cultural norms’ tradition, one’s religious background, one’s social background etc are all reflected and expressed through his language and all these things contribute to form his language. His language is the combination of all those lexical forms which derive from these sources. For example our language consists of words that will be names of our dresses, religious terms, and cultural norms and of our relationships. Each culture varies from another and the names that exist in our culture may not exist in other cultures.
Home environment can be putted under social environment because it is a unit of society, because home is what that makes one’s social life.
Crow and Crow (1965) in Ihsanullah thesis (2012) define home “home is the primary unit of society. The combination of different relations makes it a unit, because these relations (parents, brother and sister etc) play an important role a child’s life from his/her childhood through adulthood. And that is home which makes the personality of a child. Home not only influences child’s family prospective, but also in the form of his/her attitudes, beliefs and behavior”.
According to Murdock in Aamir Sohail Langra (2003) Thesis “home is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved relationship” (that may be husband and wife, brother and brother, sister and sister, or brother and sister.
According to Fletcher in Aamir Sohail Langrah research describes “the family as a universal cohesive and psychological unit. He says that family members share the same name, the same collective reputation, the same home, the same peculiar tradition of their own making and the same neighborhood. They share the same joys and the same sources of conflict. The family he concludes is the educative group of the most fundamental kind”.
Home environment is said to be one’s first schooling system and one’s personality is the outcome of his/her home environment. One is deeply affected by his/her home environment in each field of his/her life, for example one’s manners, behavior, social class, race, religious sect, economical situation, academic performance, all of them are the outcome of one’s home environment.
Home environment cover a variety of factors in one’s life, that may be economical factor of the family, that may be educational factor of family and may be social factor of the family and all these factors contribute to form the personality and manner of a person .one is deeply affected by these factors in his manner and most specifically in his/her language. We will deal with all these factors individually later on that how they affect one’s manner, motivations and language.
1.1 First Language Acquisition
A child acquires his first language with the help of one’s family. His language acquisition is the first schooling that is given to him by his family and that is the utmost responsibility of the family to help the child in acquiring his language. Care takers and home environment play a vital role in a child language acquisition. Care takers make a child practice the lexical items in the start and gradually the child starts speaking simple structures and add more new vocabulary items as he interact with the adults. A child learns his vocabulary, pronunciation and structure construction only from the people he meets in his childhood and till his adolescence. Son it is obvious that one’s first language is the outcome of a severe practice in his childhood with his care takers and other people around him and it could be impossible to acquire the language without the help of family support.
George Yule in The Study of Language writes about the origin of language says that through an experiment it was clarified “that children living without any access to human speech in their early years, grow up with no language at all” (1985, page 2). The above quotation shows that language acquisition is only possible due to the contact of a child with his family members in his childhood. It shows that without home contribution even one’s first language could be impossible and that home plays an effective role in language acquisition.
The same theory can be applied to second language learning that like one’s first language acquisition, second language learning can be improved with the help of one’s family support. As we know that language learning is the outcome of intensive practice over a period of time and in language centers the required practice is not given to the students. A student may spend approximately two hours in language institute in a day and about ten hours a week, out of these two hours he is given only fifteen to twenty minutes for speaking, or for presentation of a topic in the class in order to practice the target language that is not sufficient time for practicing the target language. Language learning needs much practice and time. That is the reason that students spend years in language centers to learn a language, but they do not learn it with full efficiency.
This problem can be handled with the help of home environment. A student or a child may spend about fifteen to eighteen hours at home with family. If a family bilingual, or able to communicate in the target language and it provide an environment to the child to practice the target language along with the practice of language institute and support and motivate the child towards the target language that child would be able to learn the target language more efficiently and accurately as compare to those who do not have a bilingual family or whose family is unable to communicate in target language.
According to an article “The language of instruction at school and second language use around the home will affect the rate at which your child learns English. As you can imagine, children who only receive one or two hours of English a week – whether formally (at school or extra-curricular language classes) or informally (friends, books, films) – will not develop their skills as quickly as children who receive part or all of their regular schooling in English and/or whose family members use English as a medium of communication on a regular basis” (www.Britishcouncil.org/Hongkong-wiify-june09.htm)
Here we come to know that lack of practice in target language that is given to students in language centers causes lack of efficiency in target language, and that gape can be filled with the help of home environment, if children’s parents and siblings know about target language and are able to communicate in target language. The child will be more efficient in target language if the family support him and provide him the required material of the target language.
There are some factors of home which contribute to a child personality and which influence the child throughout his life in his manners, attitude, and personality. These factors play a vital role in the development of a child. These factors have the same deep effect on a child first language as well as on second language. They are the following.
1.2 Educational Background of the family
Education is the soul of a civilized a person. An educated person is known through his manners and behavior. Education plays a vital role in the development of a child’s personality. A person’s education is reflected through his manners and language that how educated he is, and to which type of family he belongs to.
One’s first language is the perfect reflection of a person’s education, if a person will use type of vocabulary and structures that will suit his personality. A child from an educated family will use more formal language as compare to those who belong to uneducated families. He will avoid abusive language. He will use standard language and so on. Likewise the education of a family plays a very important role in the learning of second language. An educated family knows about the importance of a language usages and its function. An educated family also knows about the requirements of a child: that how to support and motivate a child towards education and how to develop his personality.
If a family is educated and able to communicate in target language, it will provide an opportunity to a child to practice the target language at home. The family members will make an environment of language classroom at home for the child in order to make him practice the target language, and the family members encourage the child in second language learning and that is the reason that students from educated families will be more confident in their speaking skill. In this case the child will be able to share his knowledge about second language with his siblings and parents and his family members will also share theirs with him. A child from uneducated family even feel shy to use the terms of target language at his home that he would have learnt in language center. He gets no feedback from his family members in the target language and that is the reason that such children remain hesitate and incompetent in second language.
The education of a family also plays another role in the learning of a child. An educated family knows about the needs and requirements of second language learning. The install such programs in computer that will help the child in the learning of second language. They will provide the child such audios and videos that will contain the elements of second language, like cartoon, games, and simple movies etc. they will paste charts and cards at home which will enhance a child’s peripheral learning. They will also communicate in the target language among themselves as well as with the child and in this way a child enhance his vocabulary and structures.
So we can say that the education of a family has an inevitable role in the learning of second language, and second language can be learnt with more efficiency and accuracy if the family is educated. A child will be confident in second language using and will be able to learn standard and sophisticated language in a formal situation of home with the help of his own family members. On the other hand a child from uneducated family will remain shy and incompetent and will have lack of practice and lack of target language items.
1.3 Social background of the family
There is class distinction in our society which has divided the society in different classes: that is upper class, middle class and lower class. These divisions are mostly based on the economical status of the families, people whose income is lesser are considered to be from lower class and people whose income is better, they are thought to be from upper or middle class depend upon their level of income.
Social status can be related to language learning in the way that different people from different social class the language according to their class: for example a teacher, a businessman, or an officer will use the most formal form of language; their language will be totally different from the language of a former, a painter, and carpenter. Their choice of vocabulary and structure will be very much sophisticated and formal. On the other hand if we analyze the language of a layman, former, or a person from a lower class, we will find it very much rough and informal. His choice of vocabulary will be almost vulgar. He will use very ordinary type of language.
In the same respect social class of a family play an important role in the learning of second language. From second language here I mean English language learning as second language. As we know that English is an international language and considered to be a civilized language, broadly used in media, educational institutions, business, and in courts etc. a person having known English language is considered to be a well educated person. In this respect people from educated, and upper class family will be more anxious and motivated towards English as their second language. Students from such families will be encouraged to learn English, for this purpose they will be sent to well recognized language institutes, they will be facilitated with requirements of the second language by their families and this the reason that students from these families are much better than those who belong to socially lower families.
Here we can say that one’s family social background also plays a vital role in his second language learning. Students from upper class are encouraged to standard form of language, to use formal and sophisticated linguistics items to maintain their social manner up and to look very much civilized. On the other hand students from lower are less encouraged in second language learning, in though if they learn second language, they will be less efficient in using the language with accuracy. They will mostly use informal and vulgar structures. So we can say that social environment and language can never be separated.
1.4 Economical background of the family
Economical status of a family plays a very important role in a student development and career. It influences the child mentally and psychologically because if a student’s family is economically stable and consistent and there are no economical barriers in the family, the child will tend to perform well in his career because a child is mentally associated with the economical stability of the family directly or indirectly. If a family is unstable economically, it affects the child performance in his each field of life and brings many barriers in his learning. A child has many requirements and if these requirements are fulfilled accordingly the child will give good results in his career.
Economical stability of the family can be related to language learning in many ways. Second language learning mostly takes place in private institutes and those institutes charge a large amount of fee that will be difficult for a child belonging to economically unstable students to have access to those institutes. Because of this reason most of the students having good tendency towards language learning could not learn it. Mostly we find the students who come to language centers will be from rich families because they can afford the expenditure of those centers. So if a student belongs to economically stable family he will have access to well reputed centers and he will be provided all the requirements easily and he will learn the language without any psychological pressure.
Economic situation is a barrier in the way of many talented students. In Pakistan the literacy rate is 43% and in this those people are included who can only write their name. It means that in Pakistan the basic education is not provided properly so how a student will go for extra education like second language courses or computer courses. If we want to learn the target language more efficiently for that we must have access to those institutes where we are taught by native speakers and those institutes charge amount of fee that is even impossible for an ordinary person. So we can say that second language learning facility is only provided to those who are financially strong enough to afford the expenses and to access to good and well reputed language institutes.
1.5 Statement of problem
Many language institutes and language centers offer language courses and claim that one will learn a target language especially English within three or six month of course duration, but at the end of the course most of students get disappointed from the result of their language learning. They usually do not get the result that they expect before going to language centers. There are many reasons for this discrepancy between the claim of the language centers and the result that students get at the end. It can be the reason of lack of efficiency and confidence in teacher in the target language. He may be unable to use such strategies and techniques which make the students speak the target language and may be unable to provide a speaking environment to the students, but this reason may be less obvious because most of the teachers appear in language teaching after having enough knowledge of the target language. There may be other reasons like lack of interest from student’s side in the target language and many more reasons.
The most obvious and affecting reason for this discrepancy is the lack of practice and lack of time that is given to a language student in language center for target language. As we know that language learning needs much practice and time. Students find it difficult to give enough practice to the target language in language institutes, because of the short time is given to them. They return unable to learn the target language after spending years in language centers. Here they need extra time for practicing the target language and an environment where they are given the facility of communicating in the target language. This gap needs to be filled for getting efficiency in target language and there is one institute that can fill this gap that is home if a target language communicating environment is created there and if the family support the student in second language learning. If a student has a family who is able to communicate in the target language, and encourage the student in the target language he will be able to learn the target language efficiently and accurately and more easily than those who do not have such home environment and family.
From the above mentioned arguments we can extract that home environment do have o role in the learning of second language and it should be investigated that how home and home environment affect the learning of second language, what are the factors of home and family involved in the student development of his performance especially in second language learning, what is the role played by home environment in the learning of second language, what is the relationship of home environment and language learning etc?
1.6 Significance of the study
Language learning needs much practice and that is the reason that a child acquires his first language after the severe effort of three or four years from his family. It shows that one’s first language acquisition is made possible with respect to home and family support. It is the home and family, which make a child learn his first language. Same is the case for second language learning, it too needs the same support and effort of family. A student can learn second language in the same way as he learns the first one with the help of his family. The main purpose of this study is to find out the obvious factors of home environment which are important for learning second language. this study will show how second language learning can be made easier by making an environment at home where the student will be able to practice the target language. It will also show how such environment can be made at home.
- The research will investigate the relationship of home environment and second language learning.
- The study will inquire: what are the factors of home environment that influence the learning of second language.
- The study will answer up to what extent good home environment is important for second language learning.
- The study will be delimited to the language centers of Tehsil Dargai District Malakand, as the researcher himself belongs to the area. There are many language institutes in Tehsil Dargai. The study will be narrowed down to Modern English Language Institute Dargai and Oxford English Language Institute Dargai.
- The research will collect the data from intermediate level students.