English is now not only the language of native speakers because the non-natives have outnumbered them. There are only a few areas of the world where English is the only language while all the other areas are multilingual. This trend is changed because of globalization as people move and learn new things. English has now become a global language that is used in all the business settings. In order to cater this need of teaching English, a proper mechanism should be formed so teach it in multilingual context and communities. Different speech communities and languages should be integrated in a way that the development and language acquisition can be made possible.
In order make this work, the most significant step is to understand the issues about the challenges and opportunities of teaching English in multilingual context and communities. The scope of teaching this language should be made clear.
The prominent issues involve dealing with the real identity of language and politics in language rights. This issue arises because even native speakers live in communities that are multilingual. This has made it possible to make a language ecology of English. There are various differences in people speaking this language including the difference in gender, educational background, geographical location, socio-economic status and sexual preferences. All these challenges will be integrated into this essay with the help of strong arguments and critical perspective.
The essential things in teaching English should be identified at first for making it easily understandable in multilingual communities. Having an inspirational teaching technique for the public engagement in a wide range of communities will help linguistic professors to achieve the goal (Flyman Mattsson & Norrby, 2013). English is now spoken all over the world and it is not only a way of disseminating knowledge but used as a mean of intercultural communication. The initiatives like TESOL face multiple challenges for communicating English effectively in multiple regions of the world for multicultural communities.
The level of challenges varies from operative techniques to teach to the macro level planning of educational language. This is because the main issue in teaching a different language always occur in multilingual and multicultural perspective. As per the dynamics of the world, where most of the languages are near extinction, people and their parents have a craze to learn English language, especially in developing countries. This acts as an aspiration and opportunity that plays a positive role in teaching the English language for multilingual communities. However, still, the main challenge is about how to teach the English language in presence of cultural diversity and addressing linguistics.
The critical thinking ability of a person as well as creative skills should be improved. This can only be done by making effective use of the prior language of the learner. Cultural language is helpful in learning English because it is a great resource. Though it is also a fact that English is considered as a key factor for the economic success of a nation but it has contributed in generating inequalities in the political, economic and social framework (Pennycook, 2017).
People focus on English language studies in multilingual communities because of two main reasons. The first one is that it strengthens the basis of English language and second is the fact that it is helpful to improve the specialties of students. Mostly English is spoken by people who use it along with another language also. When English is used by people, either in monolingual or multilingual perspective, the focus of language change shift according to the thing they are working. These are known as context-specific Englishes. These Englishes vary based on the purpose of using language and the channel that is used for communication (Halliday & Hasan, 1989). This shows that if a paper is written in English while the other one is written in Mathematics, its construction and writing will be different because of varying context. Even the grammar that is used in these different contexts is different and it is not necessary that it uses the same rule of Standard Grammar used in English. This is specific to the writing procedures that change the grammar preferences (Martin & Rose, 2008). This shows that the choice of the user is a response according to the context he is using that particular language.
Englishes vary in multiple dimensions in their structure, meaning and use because they have evolved in different areas of the world according to multicultural and multilingual contexts. The three dimensions are considered particularly including uses of Englishes, Users of Englishes and modes of communication. These different dimensions can be used to understand independent language choices in different cultures. This is helpful in situating various language aspects of this three-dimensional model (Hasan, 2009).
The world has gone through various political and economic changes in past few years and this has a significant impact on learning practices and language teaching. The impact is major seen in the multilingual context and communities. There is politics of language rights that influence the policies of language education and the practices that are followed in multilingual countries (Kumar et al., 2012). Globalization has a chief impact on this fact and that is why different policies are used across multilingual nations for multilingual education.
Language rights have become a major issue for the political theorists. Multiple political conflicts all over the world revolve around linguistic diversity. The questions on language policy and language rights are frequently raised that create an issue while teaching English in a multilingual context (Patten & Kymlicka, 2003). Some of the vast theoretical questions are attached to the language policy that leads to disputes. This is used as an insight into the study of democracy, globalization, ethnonationalism and some other wide-ranging phenomena that are becoming a focus for most of the public and academic settings.
Some of the issues that are identified in this politics of language rights include private use of language, education, official declarations, immigration etc. Furthermore, these language rights are categorized in four different dimensions. The first dimension is of promotion vs. tolerance-oriented rights. The second regime is related to official languages vs. norms and accommodation. The third regime includes territoriality vs. personality rights. Lastly, collective vs. individual rights are associated with the politics of language rights. These policies are often barrier behind teaching English in multilingual communities because it is affected by linguistic policies.
Teaching English in different communities also has an influence on the ethnic conflicts in different settings. There are different learning strategies that should be integrated to improve the understanding and adoption of knowledge. The teaching and learning of English in a multilingual community is challenging for both sides including teachers and students. Having an interactive session according to the prior knowledge of reader is helpful in the reading pedagogy (Carrell & Eisterhold, 1983). All the issues in language teaching that are associated with the role of grammar should be analyzed by past trends. This is done because grammar has a close relationship with the meanings, discourse, social function, to make an autonomous system of learning (Celce-Murcia, 1991). The pedagogical techniques are used for communication to depict the role played by the grammar in the teaching of language.
The use of the first language while teaching also plays a great role while teaching English in multilingual cultures. The literacy skills of people can be improved by integrating the first language into various capabilities. Teaching English is not only about making them capable of understanding English. The true purpose is to integrate all the literacy skills of the learners.
The first literacy skill to be focused on is enabling the writing capabilities. The learners should be made capable enough that they could plan, think and then write in English. Having brainstorming sessions, organizing and planning activities is important. If the feedback is given in the first language of students while teaching in multilingual communities, this will provide effective results. The students will understand it clearly and make comparisons about their capabilities across different languages.
Second literacy skill is the improvement of reading capabilities. When the texts are provided in English for reading, this will improve their understanding. Even if they are not capable of providing answers in English but this will act as an encouragement to respond in enabled language.
Third literacy skill is refining the speaking capabilities. This can only be done when the ideas of students can be composed in their first language. Only then, they will be able to translate ideas into the second language and convey it to others. The best pedagogy here is to tell the learners to jot down their ideas and then encouraging them for speaking. This will help them to be more confident in the transfer of ideas and eventually formulate strategies to build speaking capabilities.
Fourth and last literacy skill is enhancing listening competencies. This involves listening various lectures and then making proper notes. At first, the speed of taking down notes may not be fast but with time, it will adjust and they will note every key point delivered by the instructor. While teaching English, the prominent thing is to make the learners understand the key things they should focus on while listening. When only main ideas are focused, the supporting details are built in brain automatically because of thinking pattern. This is an excellent strategy to build a mind map about the topic under discussion.
All these literacy skills can be improved by the integration of the first language in the learning process of English, especially in multilingual communities. These skills can then further be used for developing higher order skills that are used to improve critical thinking ability. The thinking ability to know the capabilities a person has across other languages will become a positive resource.
In order to teach English in a multilingual context, the most important thing is to make a teaching framework that is linguistically responsive. The linguistic learners need some particular qualities and teacher should know what type of techniques should be used in multilingual perspective to boost those qualities. The elements necessary in building up that framework are as follows.
The first element of this framework is having a sociolinguistic consciousness. The teacher of multilingual context must understand clearly about the culture, identity, language and development for the awareness of sociopolitical dimensions. This will help in language education and use because people have different perception in various cultures. The language policies that have an effect on the language reforms of language learner should be reflected. A proper connection between the literacy development and culture will be helpful in this regard. Another important element is giving value to the linguistic reforms. Showing level of interest in the home language of diverse students can generate a positive impact on the attitude. This will make them more engaged in the learning process. The context of learning the second language should also be understood because students are learning this language because it is dominant. Therefore, giving respect to their home language will send a message of welcoming and caring attitude. An environment of learning can be made even more productive in this way.
Whenever teaching English to a multicultural context and various communities, it is important to learn first about their experiences, backgrounds and proficiencies because things are perceived differently in different cultural settings. The proficiency level of the learners should be identified at first to teach them accordingly. This will be helpful in learning about the difficulties they face in learning. This important information can be obtained with the help of written or oral biographies and interviews. Arranging meetings with families can also be helpful to understand the communities and home environment of the learner.
The teacher should work as an advocate to infuse more attention in the education program (Athanases & De Oliveira, 2011). This is supportive of improving the learning experience of the learners. This important component must be understood by every teacher. It may have a different meaning in the local and international context depending on the social and political factors. While preparing the teacher for delivering education, incorporating the ability to advocate is a key component to consider the resourceful use.
While teaching English in multilingual communities, an important factor is to understand the demands of language for the classroom tasks and discourse. The politics of discourse should be understood while accessing the allocated course readings. There is a huge difference in the textbook learning and students learning from classroom discourse. The instructor should understand the difference in the specific functions, vocabularies and forms of linguistics in specific settings. For this purpose, the instructor should be skilled enough to conduct language analysis. This is normally not developed in the simple educational experience so teachers should work on this skill separately. This will also be helpful in identifying the challenges associated with different assessment types and identification of linguistic features.
The instructional support is the concept that is also commonly known by the name of scaffolding. This is the integration of both the English language and academic content in learning of students. This temporary support will be helpful in carrying out both the literacy tasks and academic language. There are multiple things involved in it such as activating the prior knowledge of students, usage of written texts, multimodal materials, collaborative learning activities, modification of oral language and written text and the delivery of explicit and clear instructions. All these things focus on the heterogeneity, content integration, collaboration, experiential learning and learner-centeredness (Garcia &Sylvan, 2011). These techniques are cooperative in promoting the learning process. These things take all the capabilities beyond the current context.
There are few principles of learning the second language that should be kept in mind especially while teaching English in multilingual perspective. The proficiency in the academic language is different from the proficiency of conversational language. So, the techniques should be shaped accordingly to achieve better results. The input level of information provided to the learners should be comprehensible. This will make it beyond their competence level and they will strive more to understand it in a better way.
The social interactions should be carried out in a way that they have positive influence to fulfil the purpose of authentic communication. The learning of the recipient will foster because of this social communication and interaction. This helps as it increases the comfort level of the learner.
Another significant element to be considered in multilingual communities is that the skills, as well as concepts that are learned in the first language, are transferred in the second language automatically (Myles & Mitchell, 2014). There is no need to learn everything anew. However, there can be an interference in the learning caused because of anxiety. The learner may feel anxious to perform in the second language.
There are certain knowledge, skills and orientations that should be implied on the teachers to prepare them for teaching in multilingual communities. The variation in the context and curriculum is enormous. However, to minimize the redundancy there is a determinate list of abilities that should be integrated for the linguistically approachable teachers. It is undeniable that multiculturalism and multilingualism are the realities in this globalized world. Therefore, teaching English is important to draw societies for the use of multiple languages.
English is a language that is becoming popular all over the world and this has raised to the variation in spoken English among various neighbouring countries. Economies depend on this language because all the business communication is carried out in this language. Therefore, various communities are now turning into multilingual or bilingual to compete in this dynamic environment. However, great care should be taken while teaching English into these multilingual contexts and communities because differences exist in terms of culture, ethics, styles, grammar and various other parameters. This report shows the use of various techniques to make the learning effect for the learners of multiple languages. This concept is related to the various Englishes, politics of discourse, pedagogy and from the perspective of politics in language rights. The elements that are necessary for the framework of linguistically responsive teaching are discussed with relevance to multilingual context.
Athanases, S. Z., & de Oliveira, L. C. (2011). Toward program-wide coherence in preparing teachers to teach and advocate for English language learners. Teacher preparation for linguistically diverse classrooms: A resource for teacher educators, 195-215.
Carrell, P. L., & Eisterhold, J. C. (1983). Schema theory and ESL reading pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 17(4), 553-573.
CELCE‐MURCIA, M. A. R. I. A. N. N. E. (1991). Grammar pedagogy in second and foreign language teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 25(3), 459-480.
Flyman Mattsson, A., & Norrby, C. (2013). Language acquisition and use in multilingual contexts: theory and practice. Lund University Press.
García, O., & Sylvan, C. E. (2011). Pedagogies and practices in multilingual classrooms: Singularities in pluralities. The Modern Language Journal, 95(3), 385-400.
Halliday, M. A., & Hasan, R. (1989). Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective.
Hasan, R. (2009). Semantic Variation: Meaning in society and in sociolinguistics (Vol. 2). London: Equinox.
Kumar Singh, N., Zhang, S., & Besmel, P. (2012). Globalization and Language Policies of Multilingual Societies: Some Case Studies of South East Asia. Revista Brasileira de Lingüística Aplicada, 12(2).
Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2008). Genre relations: mapping culture (London: Equinox). Google Scholar.
Myles, F., & Mitchell, R. (2014). Second language learning theories. Routledge.
Patten, A., & Kymlicka, W. (2003). Introduction: Language rights and political theory: Context, issues, and approaches.
Pennycook, A. (2017). The cultural politics of English as an international language. Taylor & Francis.