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Language - Essay Example

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The most stereotyped impression of a country where more than one language is spoken is that, the multilingual country could be marked with chaos and confusion. However, far from being chaotic and confusing, nations in which more than one language is spoken do not share similar patterns with regards political and economic situation as these patterns are too intricate to establish…
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Download file to see previous pages Furthermore, code switching is a very common behavior among multilingual speakers. Thus, policymakers on education stress that switching from one language to another may affect proficiency of the speaker as code switching limit language development of the speaker or learner (Berko-Gleason 1993).
The multilingual situation in the Philippines, for instance, presents an interesting case as the country is an archipelago and is made up of many islands. English is a second language in the Philippines and about 50 percent of the population comprehend and speak English but 87 languages and dialects also exist in different islands. Some of these languages do not seem to be related to each other. Although a national language exists, government policies on the use of national language, the Filipino - an amalgamation of languages composed of both Tagalog and English - confuses the population rather than help the public become proficient in the learning of the language required in school. Tagalog is used in some subjects such as history but science subjects are mainly taught in English.
The consequences of this policy are quite detrimental to those whose first language is neither Tagalog nor English. A majority of Filipinos who live in the provinces and underlying islands had to learn three languages in order to survive school and be able to find work. Many of those whose first language is not Tagalog or English are usually discriminated against in work places because of their 'accents.' Marked cultural differences also exist in terms of food, way of life, religious beliefs and many other aspects of culture.
Furthermore, like other multilingual countries, the Philippine government faces challenges because of its language-learning program on multilingualism. As two languages - Tagalog and English - are used, educators are concerned that learners may not learn any of the language with greater proficiency as code switching is seen as a hindrance to achieving high-level language proficiency. Language experts argue that bilinguals and multilinguals cannot achieve similar language proficiency similar to those of monolingual speakers.
Code-switching is defined as the 'utilization of two languages simultaneously or interchangeably' (Valdes-Fallis, 1977). Most experts view that speakers use two languages if 'bilingual fluency is not yet stable' (Valdes-Fallis, 1977). Speakers employ this method in order to attain two things: one is for the speaker to fill a linguistic or conceptual gap and secondly, it is for the attainment of multiple communicative functions (Gysels, 1992). In many countries and territories, code switching is avoided, but in majority of multilingual and bilingual areas of the world, it is viewed as the 'norm' (Swigart, 1992; Goyvaerts & Zembele, 1992). This is true in the Philippines, Singapore, India and Nepal where speakers usually move from one language to another to communicate. In Singapore and the Philippines (Chinese or Malay and English in Singapore, and Tagalog and English in the Philippines), the use of two languages or the mixing of both in communication and even in literature has become the norm.
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