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There are always areas of any profession people are in to which they feel may need change and/or improvement. Teaching is no exception, I feel. Any teacher needs to be enthused to bring light to new areas of interest in their line of work. Having read many articles on professional teacher development, I came across a document that inspired me with some core beliefs. It made me read more, delve deeper, and look at a specific area of the teaching profession that I hope empowers me. The document is ‘Teaching: the Reflective Profession’. It was published by ‘The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI)’ to show competence for reflection and discussion. It was written to address the issues and recognise the complexities of teaching. In this appraisal, I will address how this document gave me an insight into an area I feel may be missed by teachers in their daily toil.
One true fact is that children need to develop not just as ‘rounded individuals able to prosper in the world but, as importantly, to live together in a culture characterised by tolerance and respect for diversity’. These words speak volumes when I consider the position and the factors I face every day with my school. From observations of various teachers in my school, I feel, they do not, in reality, recognise their students’ true needs for the outside world they will be entering. The teacher is usually sat at a desk. A microphone is always used because the students are so loud. The students are there solely as listeners in nearly every subject. The situation reminds me of Charles Dickens‘ ‘Hard Times’ where the students learnt facts and imagination was not on the syllabus. There seems to be no thought process involved. I see students turning off, then, just copying other people’s work to get a mark. I feel it is a culture of ‘It’s there if you want it’ mentality. The brighter kids are at the front and the ones that really need help are at the back where there left behind. This cannot help them to survive in the real world. The students are only worried about final marks not what went into getting that mark, be it copying or cheating.
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There have been noticeable effects on language that have come about due to explorers and the like that journeyed from their motherland many years ago. The journey of Christopher Columbus in 1492 was one that would herald the changing of the times for world languages. Such were these countries, a la, Great Britain with its English language and the colonies, and Spain with its Spanish in South America, that they spread their voice over many continents. This being said, there is still an emphasis that language existed long before the arrival of these powerful empires to far away lands. Languages such Chinese, Hindu and Arabic are still spoken by many millions of people around the world. We also have to recognise that many indigenous people still use their native language. In many respects, any of these rarer languages, relatively speaking, could have spread through the world as much as English and Spanish as we are all homo sapiens and have remained one species.
So, what do languages distinguish? Some of the aspects of many languages that although they evolved generally on their own, there is a general likeness found; for example the use of singular and plural nouns. English, French and Spanish retain in their language the distinction of one or more of something. However, in these languages, there is sometimes not a clear distinction as to what we are talking about, as with ‘I have some flowers’. There could be an array of different types of flowers and no actual number. This is opposed to Chinese which can use the same word for one or more than one. There are also other languages that will distinguish between the flowers being all of one kind or a mixed bunch.
Moreover, looking at world speech, it shows some languages make the clear distinction with a sentence to show that an object can be seen as the speaker speaks or not in eye sight. Visibility is central to their language. One example is of a woman with her arm in a sling, and how would an English speaker refer to this picture. English people could say ‘she has broken her arm’, but there is no certainty. English people can report the evidence and assume. Other languages have to make it clear how they know the information and not let a statement be glossed over.
Furthermore, over the world within languages, related words may take on different meanings. The sentences the ‘The colours are nice’ and the ‘The curtains are red’ have the same structure and relate to the same word types; nouns, verbs and adjectives but they are not the same in meaning. Other languages do not see the same as an English speaker sees, and end up putting the same sentences into other grammatical orders to explain the same sentence such that it may end up as ‘it is nice in colours’. This can also cross over to objects in space and the angle that people see objects in the world. All people look at a picture differently and can only give a subjective view. Also, some languages do not have words like the English ‘inside’ or ‘between’ thus their explanation is different for spatial objects. What’s more, some speakers only see an object from their exact position in the world. English speakers may not need to be so accurate.
To conclude, this essay highlights the diversity of language throughout the world, and the myriad of approaches to explain any situation where language is used.
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