Power Of Language

Superior Essays
Language is more than just a means of communication. Language is a reflection of community and culture; it is an implement of power with the potential to include or exclude; it is empowering and a tool for self-expression; and it is a tool for thinking, learning and development. Language takes many different forms in written, spoken and visual capacities. Language can be heard through speech and song; it can be observed in body language, gesture, writing, Auslan, symbols and pictures; language can even be felt with the use of Braille. Similarly, language is diverse and fluid, and it evolves along with the human race. There are many variations of English that are spoken around the world, each with multiple variations of their own. Furthermore, …show more content…
If a child is a part of a basketball team, they will interact with each other using language and slang that is specific to the game of basketball. For this child language is inclusive, it enables them to be a member of a select group. Conversely, if a child enters this group with no knowledge of basketball terminology, language can create a divide that separates them from the other children; it has the power to exclude. A child who enters the classroom where standard Australian English is the norm and the expectation, and they themselves have no experience with SAE, language creates a barrier. In this way, language simultaneously includes some and excludes others. It can create divides between class, gender and race. “Language therefore becomes a ‘map’ of sociological divisions of a society” (Emmitt et al., 2015, p.85). Coulmas (2013, p.42-60) analyses the differences between the way men and women use language, and notes how it can be used as a method to reinforce power inequalities and assert dominance. The same can be said for class, race, cultural and linguistic differences; language has the power to embrace and unite, but it also has the power to reject and discriminate. In a classroom that values standard Australian English, language has the potential to exclude those who come from non-standard English backgrounds. Consequently, those children …show more content…
A teacher constructs language from their own set of experiences and knowledge, but how it is received by each student is unique to their individual context. The language people use is not only a reflection of their culture, but it is also shaped by their culture. Culture influences how people use and receive language, and language influences the way in which they perceive, think and act (Emmitt et al., 2015, p.56). Winch (2014, p.28-29) explains how, in the subject of literacy specifically, understanding the social and cultural context allows a deeper meaning to be attained. The same can be said for all language; with knowledge of the context in which language is constructed, a deeper understanding of it can be gained.

Language for Thinking and Learning
Language is central to a child’s thinking and learning. Leading theorist in cognitive development, Lev Vygotsky, emphasised the importance of language as a “social bridge to connect a mentor’s advanced development with a novice’s immature development” (O’Donnell et al., 2016, p. 121). In this way, language plays the role of a facilitator of learning in the classroom. Language provides the means of perceiving, comprehending and organising information, and in articulating the new knowledge.

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