Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 7 July 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Learning from Movies -
'Slumdog Millionaire' and Language Awareness

Maya Khemlani David, Ph.D. & Caesar DeAlwis, Ph.D.


It is important for language teachers and students in multilingual societies to know when, why and with whom a language should be chosen. In this way teachers and students can make links between their linguistic repertoire and the discourse norms of the various interlocutors in such a diverse society. Those with limited language proficiency when speaking to someone who speak a different language might have to use various communicative strategies acquired from their first language to compensate for their lack of proficiency in their speech partner's language. This paper describes the communicative strategies in interactions as used in the movie Slumdog Millionaire to show how an audience outside India, could actually understand the movie which is not entirely in English. This paper shows how a diverse audience who can speak English but not Hindi are able to negotiate meanings through the dialogues which display the use of unique communicative strategies. Learners and teachers can learn from movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and become sociolinguistically competent in a multilingual society. In Slumdog Millionaire, which will be discussed, the characters who are young urbanites code mix many English lexical items in their Hindi dialogues.

Keywords: teacher, learner, communicative strategies, movies


Teachers and students in a multilingual society must be aware of the various discourse norms in a multilingual society. One such norm is the choice of the correct language to use with different interlocutors depending on the setting and objective of the discourse. Communicative strategies are normally employed to overcome inadequacies in communication and these strategies should be taught to students to cope with sociolinguistic variables in multilingual societies. According to Fishman (1972), a community is expected to be sensitive to the domain in which interactions take place. The language used a domain depends on the participants or interlocutors, their role relationships, the topics under discussion and the setting. Hence, teachers and students through the use of movies, may acquire such language awareness.

One easy way of making language teachers and learners aware of the sociolinguistic norms of when, where, why a particular language should be used is to extract excerpts of spoken discourse Taking examples from 'Slumdog Millionaire', the writers will show how such language awareness can be realized. English teachers and students in multilingual settings will benefit from using such instructional materials.

Communicative Strategies

A number of communicative strategies are used in Slumdog Millionaire to connect with an international audience. The concept of communicative strategies is not foreign in sociolinguistics. Bialystok (1983:103) defines communicative strategies as 'all attempts to manipulate a limited linguistic system in order to promote communication." In addition, Tarone (1983: 64) states that communicative strategies are used to compensate for some lack in the linguistic system, and focus on exploring alternate ways of using what one does not know for the transmission of a message, without necessarily considering situational appropriateness. Although Thao Le (2005) says that communicative strategies are often used in daily interaction. David (2001) is of the opinion that they serve to compensate for the inadequacies of speakers and listeners in the target language which is being used. To summarize, communicative strategies are strategies employed by speakers when they counter a communication problem during conversation.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

EAT Expressions in Manipuri | Learning from Movies - 'Slumdog Millionaire' and Language Awareness | Maternal Interaction and Verbal Input in Normal and Hearing Impaired Children | Role of L2 Motivation and the Performance of Intermediate Students in the English (L2) Exams in Pakistan | Problems in Ph.D. English Degree Programme in Pakistan - The Issue of Quality Assurance | Using Technology in the English Language Classroom | Teaching Literature through Language - Some Considerations | e-Learning of Japanese Pictography - Some Perspectives | Is It a Language Worth Researching? Ethnographic Challenges in the Study of Pahari Language | Using a Reading Material for Interactive Reading | Importance of Task-Based Teaching in Second Language Acquisition - A Review | Skill Enhancement Techniques - The Necessary Tools for the Indian Management Students | African American Literature and Ishmael Reed's Novels - Hoodism | Instances of Code Switching in Indian Television Serials | The Role of Compounding in Technical English Prescribed for Engineering Students in Tamilnadu | Polite Request Strategies as Produced by Yemeni EFL Learners | Manju Kapoor's Difficult Daughters - A Saga of Feminist Autonomy and Separate Identity | Reflections on Partition Literature - A Comparative Analysis of Ice Candy Man and Train to Pakistan | Mother Tongue! The Neglected Resource for English Language Teaching And Learning | Breaking the Good Mother Myths - A Study of the Novels of Amy Tan | Effect of Teachers' Academic Qualification on Students' L2 Performance at the Secondary Level | What Is Most Important? Fluency or Accuracy? Is Learning a Second Language a Conscious Process? | Let Us Learn from Our Standard 1 Textbook, Again! - A Brief Note on the New Standard 1 Tamil Textbook in Tamilnadu | Eugene O' Neill's The Hairy Ape - An American Expressionistic Play | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JULY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of July 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Maya David, Ph.D.
Faculty of Languages and Linguistics
University of Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur

Caesar DeAlwis, Ph.D.
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)

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