martes, 11 de noviembre de 2008

How has cultural reality changed the way we use language?

It is a fact that, the way we use language has evolved through times, especially with the movement to the information age. Thus, we have changed our ways of communication, because our cultural reality has been changing at the same time. We have developed a number of new and different media to express what we want to say. The contents of communication have increased with the creation of multiple and complex ways to send and receive information. Nowadays, ways of interaction have changed, becoming more artificial and materialistic through the years. The ways we see each others or the ways we see the world have completely changed. Now, we can transform and play with reality using the different devices which have been invented; what influences and affects us in terms of the way we interpretate and name our own cultural reality.

First, with the age of information most of people have had access to the new technological devices which have simplified their social lives. For example, with the invention of internet, we do not have to spend so much time writing a letter, neither waiting for a response, because just sending an e-mail we can have an answer instantaneously. In other words, now communication is not a matter of distance.

Then, with the creations of technological devices we have modified the way we speak to each other. For instance, every time with the use of chat we tend to cut the words and use a lot of slang in order to make the “conversation” flows. But, do you think it opens our cultural reality, or in some way, do these devices make it more closed?
Indeed, the different communicational changes in our cultural reality have advantages and disadvantages as well. Every time communication is being more impersonal; we have replaced the real communication and social interaction with artificial ways of interacting and expressing ourselves. For example, speaking on the phone, sending an e-mail, and chatting has changed the way we see communication, because we have forgotten about face to face interaction.

On the other hand, although the direct personal interaction has decreased; we might consider language is still extremely alive. In this sense, it would be the main advantage of our cultural reality invaded with a lot of diverse information. Indeed, we count with a lot of new different terms and words with which we can express facts, ideas, or events. Thus, every word we use is related to the information that the media provides us; we use each word or add new words that refer to the times we are living in, and the context where we are involved. For example, if we re in a conference about Applied Linguistic, we can hear a lot of terminology related to this specific field such us, cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, language ego, and so forth. So the way we use words depends necessarily on the context.
In addition, another advantage of this information age is the opening to the new different realities to which people can have access through the media. For instance, people from rural places now, have access to the city and what is more; everybody can be aware of the current events around the world. In fact, nowadays, there are no information’s boundaries so that we have the right to be informed and at the same time; the right to be critics in terms of the diverse c
ontents we are always facing and dealing with.

Claire Kramsh asserts that there is an evident relationship between language and culture, being the second one the most relevant factor in terms of its influence into the society, because culture determines, regulates and shapes people behaviour and consequently the language they use. Thus, language is the tool which symbolizes our cultural reality, attitudes and values(3). In other words: “Words also reflect their authors’ attitudes and beliefs, their point of view, that are also those of others. In both cases, language expresses cultural reality” (Kramsch 3).

To conclude, I strongly believed that as cultural reality is changing, then the use of language does it as well. What is more, I already know that both evolve through the years, especially with the broad areas that are being discovered and studied by hundreds of people. For that reason, all languages should always be taught in context and not in an isolated way. In the case of teaching a foreign language, we as teacher have to figure out the way to make the contents catchy for the students, and not to pretend that they get caught with topics which are completely disconnected with their realities, for example, the contents present in most of student’s books that are being used at schools right now. I other words, teachers and students must be aware of national current events first, being able to discuss about them using English. Then, we must to make students get closer to the cultural reality of the foreign language which is being taught in order to make them realise the diversity in terms of cultural realities, and avoid the creation of stereotypes against to American or British people.