Media Power: Influence People to be a Multi-lingual Speakers
The growing need for globalization has forced many people choose to be multi-lingual speakers. “Research shows that, at age four, children can learn how to speak a language aside from their native language that is spoken at home” this standpoint raised in the TV show “Sweet life on QTV: Multilingual Kids” by speech consultant Tessa.
Children below the age of twelve are supposed to live with their family, and except the influence from their living circumstance, what other factors can influence their interest in studying a non-native language? The answer may be “Media.”
Media power is working on both transmitting information to audiences and promoting different cultures to people around the world. Media power is much stronger than we imagine, in some ways, media power can influence people to be a Multi-lingual speaker.
Numerous scientific evidence shows that media influences people in many aspects. First, media has an impact on people’s sense of the world. Hooks mentioned this feature in her paper Seeing and Making Culture: “Television shows and films bring the message home that no one can truly feel good about themselves if he or she are poor” (Hook, 1994).
In the television show, Gossip Girls this statement can be proven: most of the characters in the show are wealthy. The audience is meant to view these characters extremely happy because of their wealth, and they do not feel good about themselves because they cannot afford a new pair of seven hundred dollars shoes every week.
The poor character, Jenny, who desperately wants to be a part of wealthy Upper East Side of New York, also portrays this. The influence of media is what makes the audiences not feel good about themselves.
Secondly, a large spread circle and influencing effect are media’s features. Movies produced in Hollywood are widely spread all over the world, having dominant control of the market, which means that countless people are exposed to the influence of Hollywood and accept the American ideology.
As a significant media form, Hollywood movies’ power of influence is not just working on the countries they were produced, but nations with traditional customs like China and India. Researched by a Hong Kong scholar, the Asia-Pacific region created 40% of Hollywood movies’ international receipts.
Moreover, in the box office revenue aspect, 60% is contributed by Asia (Lee, 2008). Hollywood’s strong marketing rallying points probably have unimaginable culture invasion for people out of America.
Media power is everywhere, influencing people’s living style imperceptibly.
Through further research and technology development, more experiments and statistics show that not only does the media influence people in general, it also influences language learning. Contents showed by media can effectively attract audiences’ interest in language study.
It has been proven that accent, conversation used in media can arouse people’s culture interest, and then culture interest can motivate people to study a new language.
A model about how people make their language choice verified that this inference is probable. Introduced by the paper, “cultural interest” can influence speakers’ attitude to certain language, then integrative effects lead to people’s final language choice (Csizer & Dornyei, 2005).
Details showed in media may have an impact on specific ways, like language, culture, religion, and politics. Professor Waller, an expert on Hollywood movies and media study, said in the interview: “Factors like language accent and music are also playing important roles for attracting audience to accept the movies.”
For my example, I was deeply attracted by Princess Anne’s graceful English accent when I watched Roman Holidays. I decided to study English, a second language for me, for speaking English as well as Princess Anne one day.
Fictional language is strong evidence to support this claim.
As a language that was created by a fiction author, it is obvious that Quenya (fictional language devised by J.R.R. Tolkien) is not an official language in any area of the world. The only way people know it is from the fictions and movies. People studied Quenya because they have interest in the culture of middle earth (the world created by the author).
They are attracted by the stories, including mysterious tales, fantastic creatures, and power of magic.
Both the books and the movies have many fans, so it will not be rare to hear someone announce to study Quenya because he/she is attracted to the movie “The Lord of Rings.” For example, a friend of mine is a fan of the Lord of Rings franchise and is a member of an online fan club that communicates in Quenya.
The fascination of my friend on this fictional language shows that media plays an important role in the interest of language study.
With the development of technologies, visual media has become more and more regular than before. However, as a traditional media form, print media can also influence people’s language learning. Manga, a Japanese comic art is a significant sample to support this opinion. As we know, comic art created in Japan, called Manga, inspired millions of people all over the world. Through Ito’s paper A History of Manga in the Context of Japanese Culture and Society, she said: “Manga reflects the reality of Japanese society, along with the myths, beliefs, rituals, traditions, fantasies, and Japanese way of life” (Ito, 2005).
Real culture and customs being contained in funny, easy-accepted Manga, more people can benefit from this print media. If Japanese culture and history are just written in words but not in forms of comic art, there might not be so many fans falling in love with Japanese civilization.
Of course, other things influence language learning, such as people’s individual growth, schools requirement and so on.
Even though many things can influence language learning, I would argue that the media could be one of the most influential factors. As what Ball-Rokeach states: “The most important way that media power works is on people’s influence” (Ball-Rokeach, 1998).
The environment can force someone to study the language for a better living while schools can require students to study a language even though they do not like that at all. Media influence schools in the first place. For example, in World War II, the American people heard on the radio the army asking for people that spoke German.
This could have influenced the schools’ curriculum to introduce foreign language study.
Many possible factors can reject the claim “media can influence people’s language learning,” but we should also consider that nowadays, everyone is living under media’ control. Influences from media power are nearly unavoidable. The probability of being influenced by media is much higher; media power is still the most important reason that influences people’s language learning preference.
While in foreign countries, we watched movies produced by the Marvel Company, and we would suddenly have a strong wish: “let me have super-powers to save the world!” However, we are a non-English speaker; we have another trouble to overcome, which is the language difference.
Most of the time, even a single sentence like “With great power, comes great responsibility” is strong enough to attract a person start learning English.
Kids aged four to twelve spend much more time than adults on television do; they might watch animations created by Japan or they might watch princesses’ stories produced by Disney Company.
They learn the tones people in the television speak although their families speak another language. They are still under the influence of foreign culture and then one day, when they grow up, they find that their interest in languages has been deeply planted into their hearts. Once chance comes, they choose to study that language. It is easy to guess the ending of these stories: they become a multi-lingual speaker.
Hooks, B. (1994). Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor. Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations
Lee, F. (2008). Asian Journal of Communication. Hollywood movies in East Asia: examining culture discount and performance predictability at the box office, 18, 117-136
Csizer, K., Dornyei, Z. (2005). The Modern Language Journal. The Internal Structure of Language Learning Motivation and Its Relationship with Language Choice and Learning Effort, 05, 19-36
Ito, K. (2005). The Journal of Popular Culture. A History of Manga in the Context of Japanese Culture and Society, 38, 456-475
Ball-Rokeach, S. (1998). Mass Communication & Society. A Theory of Media Power and a Theory of Media Use: Different Stories, Questions and Ways of Thinking, 1, 5-40
Dornyei, Z. (2003). Attitudes, Orientations, and Motivations in Language Learning: Advances in Theory, Research, and Applications, University of Nottingham Press.
Yuvienco, Tessa. “Sweet life on QTV: Multilingual Kids” Television Show: the interview. YouTube, 13 Aug. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2012.
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