Language Attitudes

Language attitudes refer to the feelings harbored by people about their own language or the language of others. The attitudes students have towards foreign languages depend on the level of study at which the language is introduced to them (Domyei, 1982). If the language is introduced early, the students will have a positive attitude towards the language. The students also develop a positive attitude towards foreign countries and this enhances their interest in, as well as their ability to learn and master additional foreign languages (Domyei, 1982). Student’s attitudes towards a language influence their behavior. For instance, if they have a positive attitude towards a certain language, they are likely to speak that language or even select books are written in that language to read.

Recent research shows that attitudes of individuals towards languages is influenced by “the affective” component as opposed to the ” cognitive” component (Crookes, 1991). The affective domain is composed of factors such as interest, values, as well as a tendency and this is what models our attitudes. Crookes, (1991) argues that there are two attitudes which influence the way people view and learn languages. These is an integrative attitude which is a desire to know and develop a cordial relationship with speakers of a particular language, and instrumental attitude, the desire to advance oneself materially by means of language. When learners develop an integrative attitude towards a language, their chances of success in mastering the language are very high (Crookes, 1991). For instance, it’s widely believed that Canadians succeed easily in learning French due to their positive attitude and empathy towards the people of France.

Code switching refers to the practice of using more than one language in a conversation concurrently. Code switching to a large extend suggests strong language skills (Auer, 1998). Code switching is important for students of primary school going age since learners of this age have not yet mastered the grammar of their native (first) language hence they would naturally be inclined towards the use of any linguistic resource at their disposal (Auer, 1998). The use of code switching by teachers when teaching is also very helpful. For instance, when the teacher is dealing with certain grammar points which learners learned first in their mother tongue, code switching enable the learners to relate the word in the new language with the word in their mother tongue and this facilitates faster grasping of the new word (Myers, 1997).

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