This essay is written as the final test of sociolinguistics subject. Sociolinguistics is very important to be learned both teacher and learners. It will be useful especially in teaching and learning process. One of the approaches is Communicative Language Teaching. Why sociolinguistics is important in CTL? You will find the answer in this essay.
Before explaining the importance of sociolinguistics in Communicative Language Teaching, we need to know what sociolinguistics is.
Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used. Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latter's focus is on the language's effect on the society. Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics.
It also studies how language varieties differ between groups separated by certain social variables, e.g., ethnicity, religion, status, gender, level of education, age, etc., and how creation and adherence to these rules is used to categorize individuals in social or socioeconomic classes. As the usage of a language varies from place to place (dialect), language usage varies among social classes, and it is these sociolects that sociolinguistics studies.
The social aspects of language were in the modern sense first studied by Indian and Japanese linguists in the 1930s, and also by Gauchat in Switzerland in the early 1900s, but none received much attention in the West until much later. The study of the social motivation of language change, on the other hand, has its foundation in the wave model of the late 19th century.
The study of language variation is concerned with social constraints determining language in its contextual environment. Code-switching is the term given to the use of different varieties of language in different social situations. William Labov is often regarded as the founder of the study of sociolinguistics. He is especially noted for introducing the quantitative study of language variation and change, making the sociology of language into a scientific discipline.
While the study of sociolinguistics is very broad, there are a few fundamental concepts on which many sociolinguistic inquiries depend:
Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a more or less discrete group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves. Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group's special purposes and priorities.
High prestige and low prestige varieties
Crucial to sociolinguistic analysis is the concept of prestige; certain speech habits are assigned a positive or a negative value which is then applied to the speaker. This can operate on many levels. It can be realized on the level of the individual sound/phoneme. An important implication of sociolinguistic theory is that speakers 'choose' a variety when making a speech act, whether consciously or subconsciously
Understanding language in society means that one also has to understand the social networks in which language is embedded. A social network is another way of describing a particular speech community in terms of relations between individual members in a community. A network could be loose or tight depending on how members interact with each other.. Recently, social networks have been formed by the Internet, through chat rooms, My Space groups, organizations, and online dating services
Internal vs. external language
In this context, internal language applies to the study of syntax and semantics in language on the abstract level; as mentally represented knowledge in a native speaker. External language applies to language in social contexts, i.e. behavioral habits shared by a community. Internal language analyses operate on the assumption that all native speakers of a language are quite homogeneous in how they process and perceive language. External language fields, such as sociolinguistics, attempt to explain why this is in fact not the case. Many sociolinguists reject the distinction between I- and E-language on the grounds that it is based on a mentalist view of language. On this view, grammar is first and foremost an interactional (social) phenomenon.
After you know about what sociolinguistics is, it is better you know or understand what I call Communicative Language Teaching is.
Communicative Language Teaching
Communicative language teaching (CLT) is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. It is also referred to as “communicative approach to the teaching of foreign languages” or simply the “communicative approach”.
Communicative language teaching can be understood as a set of principles about the goals of language teaching, how learners learn a language, the kinds of classroom activities that best facilitate learning, and the roles of teachers and learners in the classroom.
CLT is usually characterized as a broad approach to teaching, rather than as a teaching method with a clearly defined set of classroom practices. As such, it is most often defined as a list of general principles or features. One of the most recognized of these lists is David Nunan’s (1991) five features of CLT:
1. An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language.
2. The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.
3. The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the Learning Management process.
4. An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning.
5. An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities outside the classroom.
These five features are claimed by practitioners of CLT to show that they are very interested in the needs and desires of their learners as well as the connection between the language as it is taught in their class and as it used outside the classroom. Under this broad umbrella definition, any teaching practice that helps students develop their communicative competence in an authentic context is deemed an acceptable and beneficial form of instruction. Thus, in the classroom CLT often takes the form of pair and group work requiring negotiation and cooperation between learners, fluency-based activities that encourage learners to develop their confidence, role-plays in which students practice and develop language functions, as well as judicious use of grammar and pronunciation focused activities.
Nowadays Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has become a well-recognized approach in education field. The CLT approach centers on the widely-discussed notion of communicative competence, and it has been well recognized nowadays that foreign language learners cannot really learn the target language well without paying close attention to this aspect of competence. Say for example students in Indonesia. They have often been criticized that their communicative competence in English is substantially limited, for having learned English for at least 9 years (3years at elementary school, 3 years at junior and 3 years at senior high school) before attending college, the majority of these EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners still show many difficulties employing this language to freely express themselves in everyday situations or even conduct a simple conversation with native English speakers. It has been suggested that the poor performance is closely related to the fact that the English testing practice most Indonesians elementary, junior and senior high school students are faced with is firmly rooted in discrete, reutilized skill goals heavily based on the outdated Grammar Translation Method and/or Audio-lingual Method, rather than in communicative objectives based on CLT.
Sociolinguistics in Communicative Language Teaching
As an extension of the notional-functional syllabus, CLT also places great emphasis on helping students use the target language in a variety of contexts and places great emphasis on learning language functions. Unlike the ALM, its primary focus is on helping learners create meaning rather than helping them develop perfectly grammatical structures or acquire native-like pronunciation. This means that successfully learning a foreign language is assessed in terms of how well learners have developed their communicative competence, which can loosely be defined as their ability to apply knowledge of both formal and sociolinguistic aspects of a language with adequate proficiency to communicate.
As I said that in teaching and learning process especially in the process that uses communicative language teaching sets as its goal the teaching of communicative competence. Communicative competence includes the following aspects of language knowledge:
Knowing how to use language for a range of different purposes and functions
Knowing how to vary our use of language according to the setting and the participants (e.g., knowing when to use formal and informal speech or when to use language appropriately for written as opposed to spoken communication)
Knowing how to produce and understand different types of texts(e.g., narratives, reports, interviews, conversations)
Knowing how to maintain communication despite having limitations in one’s language knowledge (e.g., through using different kinds of communication strategies)
Sociocultural competence, a broader view of what Canale and Swain (1980) identified as sociolinguistic competence, extends well beyond linguistic forms and is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry having to do with the social rules of language use. Sociocultural competence requires an understanding of the social context in which language is used: the roles of the participants, the information they share, and the function of the interaction. Although we have yet to provide a satisfactory description of grammar, we are even further from an adequate description of sociocultural rules of appropriateness. Yet we use them to communicate successfully in many different situational contexts. Learners cannot be expected to anticipate the sociocultural dimension of every situation. The likelihood of encountering the unexpected is easily seen for a language like English, which serves not only as a .first language in many countries, and within different cultural groups in those countries, but also as a language of wider communication across national and cultural boundaries.
Subtler, perhaps, but no less real variations in style and use in different settings can be observed for all languages. Participants in multicultural communication are sensitive not only to the cultural meanings attached to the language itself but to social conventions concerning language use, such things as taking turns, appropriateness of content, nonverbal language, and tone. These conventions influence how messages are interpreted. In addition to cultural knowledge, cultural sensitivity is essential. Just knowing something about the culture of an English-speaking country will not suffice. What must be learned is a general empathy and openness toward other cultures. Sociocultural competence includes a willingness to engage in the active negotiation of meaning along with a willingness to suspend judgment and take into consideration the possibility of cultural differences in conventions of use.
Together these features might be subsumed under the term “cultural flexibility”, or “cultural awareness”. The “ideal native speaker”, someone who knows a language perfectly and uses it appropriately in all social interactions, exists in theory only. None of us knows all there is to know of a language in its many manifestations, both around the world and in our own backyards. Communicative competence is always relative. The coping strategies that we use in unfamiliar contexts, with constraints arising from imperfect knowledge of rules, or such impediments to their application as fatigue or distraction, are represented as strategic competence. With practice and experience, we gain competence in grammar, discourse, and sociocultural adaptability. The relative importance of strategic competence thus decreases; however, the effective use of coping strategies is important for communicative competence in all contexts and distinguishes highly effective communicators from those who are less so