Emotions of English Language Attitudes in Building a Knowledge Society
Smith, Kweku M., Multicultural Education
Language learning is natural and universal. Therefore, the 21st century has been referred to by many researchers, educators, business managers, and governments as "The Age of knowledge"-i.e., a period of time in which the development of teaching and learning and the sharing of information will dominate world economies.
This emergence of English language learning would acknowledge that the global economy and the explosion of information is changing the future for organizations of all kinds throughout the world, and English language is the key element in this transformation. Many societies are struggling with the challenges of building English language infrastructures and skills capable of making the "Knowledge Society" a reality.
Remember, however, that emotions of English language attitudes or biases have a separate set of concepts from basic concepts about language. Language exists in a political and social context which must be understood so that we can use language as an instructional tool for effective communication, and also so that we can respond equitably to students and parents with a language background different from our own English language.
It is difficult to pinpoint attitudes we hold about language because of the emotional bond we hold for our native language; the mother tongue is extremely strong. Soren Kierkegaad, the nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and writer, referring to the porridge his mother prepared for him when he was a child, reflected that no other porridge could ever be as flavorful. We can reflectively draw an analogy between language and Kierkegaard's porridge -no language ever seems quite as rich or evocative as our own.
In this article, I will (1) discuss emotions of English language attitudes from historical perspective as it relates to language learning development, (2) explore current attitudes, and (3) propose the type of attitudes needed to assist English learners in our democratic society in 21st century. I will suggest various ways to change attitudes and proposde the use of a new concept called "knowledge sharing" in democratic society.
In addition, I give rationale for why knowledge sharing within democracy is essential to enhance multicultural communications among human beings, and, finally, I draw some conclusions and make recommendations about English language attitudes in building a knowledge society.
Background and Problem
Meaning and Development
Attitude, as defined by Webster's New World Children's Dictionary, 1007ed, is a way of acting or behaving that shows what one is feeling or thinking. Attitudes often come about because of our dominant ideology, preconceived notions, concepts, and opinions.
Research has shown that attitudes can be negative, positive, helpful, interested, caring, not caring, sad, conservative, closed, nonchalant, hostile, sharing, hoarding selfish, inquisitive, doubting, distrustful, accepting, etc.
Like all aspects of the development of innate cognition and affect in human beings, attitudes often develop early in childhood and are the result of parents, peers, and government attitudes, often about people who are different in any number of ways or reasons. These attitudes form a part of one's perception of self, of others, and of the culture of new ideas.
Language attitudes change over time; rarely are they static. Often attitude changes in a language context have a strong political dimension. Attitudes are manipulated by owners groups, which can be done by gentle persuasion, intensive indoctrination, acculturation, and subtle influence of Machiavellian programming. Attitudes to language may changes by slow evolution and critical consciousness for positive transformations. They can also take a "U-turn," parallel with sudden religious or ideological conversion. Language attitudes may change due to personal introspection experience to or exposure to social influence to benefit humanity. …