Of all my experiences with languages and language learners, a few incidents really got me into thinking about the frenzy that the English language have created over time.
Mr. John Schumann came up with his theory of acculturation in which he talked about how we acquire the language, humor, etc when we are exposed in a different culture over a period of time. Although you acquire the language, you necessarily do not learn it. It is not a disciplined learning atmosphere where their acquisition is given feedback upon review and practice. It is a natural and flexible pace which is adopted and the practice is subjective to the need. At times, theorists and linguists have also related this phenomenon to the fact that a lot of times these speakers are unable to catch the sound system of the other language and try to fall back on the existing sound system of their native language. That may result into the whole idea of having a Mexican accent or an Indian accent, spelling errors, unable to emote in that particular language, etc.
Whereas assimilation is something that language enthusiasts build in their minds where in they try to forget or shut the window of their native language. In that process, they are in a constant conflict in their head to make themselves “sound” like a native speaker of the language that they are trying to acquire or learn. It is a strong effort where they alter their cognitive abilities and think from that language’s cultural point of view. The result; more Hollywood!
The ESL market however keeps on discriminating the highly skilled non-native English speaking teachers because they do not look “English” enough. Assimilated much? That reminds me of this Mean Girls dialogue:
At some point the English medium culture had a lot to do with the whole Asian mindset of achieving the Englishman status. More than receiving education, a major section of the society focused on selecting an English medium school for their kids. Now there are 2 factors- the colonial hangover and in a way, the parents tried to be as futuristic as possible. It is true that English is the major language of communication; it is the global lingua franca. The time between 1960s- 2005, the assimilation process was pretty extrinsic. Post that with technology and neo-industrialization taking over the economy, it brought about a huge change. Education developed a corporate attitude and the kids started getting closer to the mainstream media. Now technology was new and more attractive. It convinced the kids more than the verbose teachers. Robotics was literally threatening the experiences of the qualified teachers. Now that is a different story.
When the assimilation became intrinsic, it was very surprising to see the growth of confidence in these kids. With time, social media apps became popular and the communication in the English language became the mandatory cool thing. Another thing that brought about the big switch into the intrinsic assimilation is the access to the movie streaming platforms, for example, Netflix. Subtitles is a pop culture. Now the viewers who understand English, it is quite apparent that they would not require a subtitle. Here is the psychological trick. With one eye on the movie and one eye on the subtitle (not literally of course!), it helps to catch up on what we call the accent, stress, intonation and all those technical features. With the earphones on, it is even easier!
When this gets added to the new age parents’ constant push to make their kids speak in English, they start assimilation on a clean slate not knowing the differences between the biologically endowed sense to acquire language and embossed ability to develop communication skills.
It is more than just glorifying the language. Isn’t it?