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Issue: How Pupils‟ Cultural Backgrounds Affect Their Learning Of Second Language? 1.

0 Introduction It is important to acknowledge that the prior learning that has happened in dialects and languages other than Standard English. Learners of ESL are members of diverse cultural; groups, who represent and construct their world in a multitude of ways, sometimes similar to and at other times marked different from the ways of the educational context they are entering. Since language is the primary resource for making meaning in a culture, learning a new language means learning a new culture, new ways of behaving and new ways of perceiving the world they already know; extending and adding a further dimension to their existing perspective. It is deemed that Malaysian ESL learners will develop their English language skills at different rates depending on a range of factors such as the degree of exposure to and use of English language, the similarities or differences between the learners‟ first languages or dialects and English, and the in-school and out-of-school environment.

Learners of ESL are at various stages of development in their first language and draw, in varying degrees and ways; on their first language as a basis for developing English. For those proficient in a first language, their learning of Standard English may be characterized by comparisons with their first language or dialect and also by comparisons with the knowledge of the world they have developed through their first language. For most learners of ESL, their only models and use for formal, academic Standard English come at school. It means that the classroom is centrally important in their learning of how to use formal language powerfully for both schooling and nonschooling purposes. English language learners are a richly heterogeneous group. The paths they take to acquire a new language and to adjust their new environment are also varied and in keeping with their unique needs and experiences. Gobel (n.d.) explains that educators and curriculum designers think that any possible differences based in cultural or socio-cultural factors may play an important role in the efficacy of English second language teaching. When someone does well on a task, s/he will attribute this success to personal (internal) reasons more frequently than external reasons. A number of studies have suggested that self enhancement is indeed affected by culture, cultural/social dynamics, and the cultural image of „self‟ (Heine & Renshaw, 2002; Kitayama & Uchida, 2003; Kitayama, Snibbe, Markus, & Suzuki, 2004; Markus, Uchida, Omoroegie, Townsend, & Kitayama, 2006; Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008).


Picking up third. to equip learners with basic skills and knowledge of the English language. or even more languages is easier than picking up a second. Curriculum Specification (national Level). Malaysia is a fascinating nation to study because English. all English teachers in Malaysia whether they are teaching in government school or private school. When monolingual children reach puberty and become more self-conscious. They have the ability to imitate pronunciation and work out the rules for themselves. Nowadays. as stated by the ministry. The age at which this change occurs depends greatly on the individual child‟s developmental levels as well as the expectations of their society. are more likely to have better pronunciation and feel for the language and culture. to help pupil acquire good reading habit. The aims has clearly stated it all. They pick up language by taking part in an activity shared with an adult. Young children have time to learn through play-like activities.Issue: How Pupils‟ Cultural Backgrounds Affect Their Learning Of Second Language? 2. 3. is given prominence by the government and private sector. they are using all those bibles below to teach English. learners will be able to achieve learning English language objectives which are. who themselves probably learned English academically at a later age through grammar-based text books. Schemes of Work (school level). Young children who acquire language rather than consciously learn it. though neither the national language nor the medium of instruction in schools or universities. Any idea that learning to talk in English is difficult does not occur to them unless it‟s suggested by adults. unlike adolescents and adults. we are communicating with other people from other parts of the world with English. innate language-learning strategies to acquire their home language and soon find they can also use these strategies to pick up English. and Plans (individual Level). but why? To make sure that they are able to communicate both orally and writing in and outside of the classroom. as older children and adults have to. They firstly make sense of the activity and then get meaning from the adult‟s shared language.0 Obstacles 2 SHARON WONG APRIL 2013 . Normally. they are self-motivated to pick up language without conscious learning. Young children are still using their individual. They are KBSR English Language Syllabus (national Level).0 Our believes Young children are natural language acquirers. their ability to pick up language diminishes and they feel they have to consciously study English through grammar-based programmes. Children who have the opportunity to pick up a second language while they are still young appear to use the same innate language-learning strategies throughout life when learning other languages. to listen to and understand simple spoken English in certain given context. With that aims. fourth.

They also need to acquire reading and writing skills in English. Based on what we have observed in SK. Therefore. they need to build their oral English skills. They feel that their classmates will embarrass them so that. 1957 in Krashen. Or.Issue: How Pupils‟ Cultural Backgrounds Affect Their Learning Of Second Language? Based on the study conducted by JPN in 2007. Certainly. they may simply need our understanding about some of the special circumstances that they face. Although these pupils come from diverse backgrounds. 2003).al. There was a clear need for research documenting the 3 SHARON WONG APRIL 2013 . they have several common needs. making it difficult to complete all of the assigned homework. These pupils may need support from health and social service agencies. 2013). The topic of "first language interference" has had an unusual history in second language acquisition research and practice. Some may come from backgrounds where there are financial difficulties or health problems. The question of using Malay to teach English has been a long standing issue. Pekan Tenghilan and SK. It can be bored to them because they are required to do the things that they do not like to do. These are some that I can see why they weak in English. Yet. we realise that pupils are unwilling to use English during English lessons. What more if asking them to practise the language at their home. it had been presumed that the only major source of syntactic errors in learners‟ second language performance was the performer's first language (Lado. They just learn English just for getting a pass in the examination. I notice that pupils are not interested to read English language books. 90% teachers and 85% students supported the use of Malay in English lesson (Farooq et. They feel shy to speak English. The program “SEMAI” has been launched in SK. They are also diverse in their economic backgrounds. It may be that both their parents work long hours and cannot help with homework. 1981). The learning of English in rural schools in Malaysia has always been a major problem for educators as they struggle to pull proficiency levels up against a backdrop where the language is almost non-existent other than the few periods of English per week where it is taught more as an academic subject than as a language (Thiyagarajah. They prefer English teachers to explain in Malay as they are more comfortable with their first language. they less motivated to speak among themselves. Malaysia is not English speaking country (English is not Malaysian‟s mother instruction of English language learners. the literacy rate among the students in the rural areas in Sabah is as low as 50 percent. in schools. It is a language which is not spoken or heard at home. teaching and learning the language comes with an almost „innate‟ set of obstacles. They will need if they are asked to do so by their teacher. or they may be required to babysit brothers and sisters until late each evening. or the social environment. Darau. For many years.Pekan Tenghilan to encourage pupils to read in order to fill up their free time. Menggatal.

formulate questions. should have opportunities to communicate meaningfully in this way. When students are presented with conventional curriculum with no modifications. and mentally tune out or withdraw from active classroom participation (Gersten. and provides all learners information on other cultures and exposure to other languages.1 Learning organisation We teachers should value the diverse resources that pupils bring to the classroom and being sensitive to their unique needs can serve to build an instructional environment that can benefit all pupils. examples and information relevant to ESL learners‟ backgrounds assist them in understanding content. Also. 1999. at his or her own level of proficiency. Incorporating diversity into the classroom provides ESL learners with social support. offers all learners opportunities to recognise and validate different cultural perspectives. they tend to flounder.Issue: How Pupils‟ Cultural Backgrounds Affect Their Learning Of Second Language? need for improvement. and use language for higher order thinking. Pupils also 4 SHARON WONG APRIL 2013 . Opportunities for substantive. explicit expectations. Pupils contribute and learn more effectively when they are able to play a role in structuring their own learning. this includes providing support for the pupils‟ understanding of instruction presented in English. Gersten & Woodward. Instructional activities should maximize opportunities for language use. Each pupil. sustained dialogue are critical to challenging pupils‟ abilities to communicate ideas.0 New IPG Action 4. Instructional tasks should involve pupils as active participants. 4. Instructional content should utilise student diversity. Teachers should ensure that pupils understand the concepts and materials being presented. Instructional interactions should provide support for pupils‟ understanding. become overwhelmed. pupils assist the teacher in defining the goals of instruction and identifying specific content to be examined or questions to be addressed. and when the content is both meaningful and challenging. 4. 1994). An active learning instructional model for ESL learners includes elements that address the special language-related needs and cultural differences of students who are learning English. The classroom should be predictable and accepting of all pupils.2 Self-regulation learning In active participation. when tasks are oriented toward discovery of concepts and answers to questions. Teachers can increase comfort levels through structured classroom rules and activity patterns. All pupils are able to focus on and enjoy learning more when the school and classroom make them feel safe and comfortable with themselves and with their surroundings. For ESL learners. and genuine care and concern for each pupil.

interest. but still requires higher order thinking skills and allows them to demonstrate or provide information in non-linguistic ways. teachers become less directive and more facilitative. while also helping pupils to understand the cultural differences too. We should also recognize and be aware of cultural differences. they use what they already know to identify questions and seek new answers. however.0 Actions Cultural differences can affect students' understanding of content. 4. and understanding of different cultural backgrounds. We should be able to recognise socio-cultural factors and be aware of pupils‟ 5 SHARON WONG APRIL 2013 . One way is to place signs in the pupil‟s language and in English to identify areas in the classroom (e. ESL learners need to participate as much as other students. We should also show acceptance by making the environment more accessible to ESL learners. Young children need time to learn a new language. Their participation can be at a level that is less demanding linguistically." "quiet work center") and around the building (e. because a pupil comes from a particular language or cultural group." "cafeteria").Issue: How Pupils‟ Cultural Backgrounds Affect Their Learning Of Second Language? play active roles in developing the knowledge that is to be learned. noting important differences from one event to the next. using limited written text. Such multilingual signs make families as well as pupils feel more welcome in the school. When pupisl are freed of the need to interpret expectations and figure out task structures. it is crucial that we should not assume that.3 Distributed learning environment A supportive environment is built by the teacher on several grounds." "science materials. beliefs. an ESL learner with very little oral or written proficiency in English can create a pictorial record of what was observed in a science class. Thus. while students assume increasing responsibility... he or she shares all the beliefs or customs of that group. they can concentrate on and take risks in learning. 5. Active participation also involves some shifting of roles and responsibilities. There is acceptance. we teachers need to be sensitive to student reactions and try to respect these. and customs. They are also learning how to learn. "class library. When pupils take an active role in constructing new knowledge. For example. "office. We should provide a clear acceptance of each pupil and treat them as individuals and as equal members of the class.g. Explicit information on what is expected of pupils is provided and is reinforced through clearly structured daily patterns and class activities.g. Pupils will learn new content in a way that allows them to build ownership of what they are learning. These provide important social and practical bases for pupils. New knowledge is built on the basis of what is already known by an individual. developing metalinguistic awareness.) Teacher as Researcher Symposium. April 22. 2013 from References ____________. Retrieved April 23. S. (n.weebly. 2013 from http://ksurep. (n. These challenges include understanding implicit cultural knowledge and dealing with political.d. The success of second language acquisition among ESL learners rely on both teachers and pupils roles. (1981).) Attirbutions to Success and Failure in English Language Learning. Retrieved April 24.A Comparative Study of Urban and Rural Students in Malaysia. negotiating disparities between home/ community and school literacy 6 SHARON WONG APRIL 2013 . their prior literacy experiences. 2013 from http://www.d.pdf Krashen. learning to codeswitch and translate. and knowledge of the challenges and benefits that ESL learners experience when learning a second language. yet teachers play the roles to reinforce what pupils have said in English and ensure that pupils learn it. cultural and social dimensions of language status issues. pupils can be allowed to use first language during English lessons.pdf Gobel. In my opinion. Since pupils are prone to using their first language during English lessons.Issue: How Pupils‟ Cultural Backgrounds Affect Their Learning Of Second Language? backgrounds. we teachers can help them to see their native languages and family cultures as contribute to education rather than something to be overcome or cast aside. Second Retrieved Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning.