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English, What Do We Know?

Shannel originally from the beautiful island of Jamaica obtained an Ms degree in English Education from Nova University.


What we know about the English Language

The English Language

Section One- History of the English language

The history of English language goes as far back as the 5th century. It is one of the oldest dialects to date, and still continues to evolve over time. This is a language that is prominently used in everyday life, and yet I know very little about its evolution. In the United States, it is often referred to as the language of the people and ironically it is not being regarded as the official language of this country. According to Milner, Milner, & Mitchell (2012), “English began as a collection of Germanic dialects brought from the European continent to the British Isles by tribes who had no written language and consequently left no record” (p. 65). I had no idea that English began with the Germans. I think that most people believe that English was started in England. I found this interesting because I was under the notion that the evolution of English started with the British. It is also interesting to note that the evolution of English Language in the United States is still at a standstill as to whether or not it should be regarded as an official language. United States is a country that is built on immigrants, and because of this some may feel that making English the official language would be a slap in the face because of the many different languages are embedded within this country. Contrary to what some may believe, many Americans identify with English as their official language, and this is evident from the quote below:

“Despite these fears for our “mother tongue”, English has grown to be not only our language but also a global language” (Milner, Milner, & Mitchell, 2012, p.65). In order to use this information as a learning tool for my students, I would incorporate bits and pieces of the history of English language into a game such as jeopardy. For example, I would come up with several different categories that speaks on the history of English language, then have a pool of questions that students can choose from and answer questions to earn points. Your content is very good and you support your assertions well with the text.

Section Two-English language acquisition and development

Language acquisition continues to be a topic of interest to many researchers, as they try to decipher the complexities that are associated with speech. To date, there are tons of theories that explain language acquisition but the one that I can relate to the most is that of Steven Pinker He explained that early language acquisition can be broken down into various stages. “Syllable Babbling, Gibberish Babbling, One- Word Utterances and Two-Word Strings” makes up a child’s first year of speech I agree with him because most times when we come in contact with babies that are 6 months to a year old, we can never truly tell what they are saying. We know that are communicating in what some might call ‘baby talk’ but at the same time it is safe to say that there is some form of babbling going on. My child is six months old and all I can hear from Kai is “baaaa, baaa, baa”. Do I understand it? no, but I at least act like I do and respond in a similar manner. In order to incorporate these theories into a learning tool for students, I would create an activity such as a puzzle where students can match the behaviorists with their theories. In addition, another interactive way to incorporate these theories into a lesson would be to do an activity like a scavenger hunt where students would be placed in small groups. They would be given clues on the theories and behaviorists, then they would have to use tools and resources in the classroom to help them figure out the answer.

Section Three –Language structure and skills including grammar systems and semantics

Not everyone who speaks English as their first language really understands the concept of grammar. Many individuals learn English that was taught to them while growing up. For example, the slangs and jargons that are associated with a person’s culture are often incorporated in the ways which they speak. Bill Gribbin tells us that language can be separated into several different categories and from there individuals can draw their respective conclusions about grammar (Milner, Milner, & Mitchell, 2012). This is a paraphrase which is something I did not suggest you do at this point, and you tried to use the secondary citation format which you did not do correctly in the second section. Bill Gribbin (1996) tells us that language can be separated into several different categories and from there individuals can draw their respective conclusions about grammar (as cited in Milner, Milner, & Mitchell, 2012).

Firstly, he spoke about grammar one which relates mostly to our unconscious thoughts. While in the school, I don’t remember where educators really paid much attention to this area. I think that teachers were more concerned about whether or not the sentence or paragraph that you created was grammatically correct, for example, subject verb agreement. In turn, this didn’t give me a chance to really express myself in the way that I wanted to. Secondly, there is grammar two. I think that grammar two is where educators place most of their emphasis. They want us to know and use every rule where grammar is concerned. I can remember vividly while in college, we had the Bedford handbook. It was like our bible. This book outlined various rules in English that should be effective in producing stellar writing. Once again, if we spend so much time worrying about these errors associated with grammar, we can lose sight of the lesson at hand. I think that this sometimes confused me when I took English courses in college. Rather, I can remember getting frustrated with my teachers in the past because I don’t think that they made it practical enough for us students to understand. Finally, there is grammar three. While I was in high school, we were never allowed to speak broken English otherwise called ‘patois’ in the Jamaican vernacular. While in high school, my teachers placed a lot of emphasis on grammar three. They did not consider patois to be socially acceptable for the classroom setting. Rather, they though it would be best to only speak English as it was seen as being proper. All in all, regardless of the downsides, grammar will always be an important tool in English Language.


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 02, 2020:

This was an interesting read, Shannel. Thank you for sharing your observations about the English language.

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