Ряба С.А. The formation of primary school students’ linguocountry-studies competence in non-linguistic surrounding

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Ряба Світлана Анатоліївна – студентка Педагогічного інституту Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка, напрям підготовки «Початкова освіта», кафедра іноземних мов і методик їх навчання Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка

Статтю присвячено проблемі формування лінгвокраїнознавчої компетенції молодших школярів у немовному середовищі. Проаналізовано поняття “лінгвокраїнознавча компетенція” і її формування та “немовне середовище”. Представлено деякі шляхи формування лінгвокраїнознавчої компетенції молодших школярів у немовному середовищі.

Ключові слова: лінгвокраїнознавча компетенція, формування лінгвокраїнознавчої компетенції, немовне середовище, фонові знання, іноземна мова.

Статья посвящена проблеме формирования лингвострановедческой компетенции младших школьников в неязыковой среде. Проанализированы понятия “лингвострановедческая компетенция” и ее формирование, а также, “неязыковая среда”. Представлены некоторые пути формирования лингвострановедческой компетенции младших школьников в неязыковой среде.

Ключевые слова: лингвострановедческая компетенция, формирование лингвострановедческой компетенции, неязыковая среда, фоновые знания, иностранный язык.

The problem of primary school pupils’ linguocountry-studies competence formation in non-linguistic surrounding is identified in the article. Such theoretical-methodical components of the problem as “linguocountry-studies competence” and its formation and “non-linguistic surrounding” are examined. The ways of primary school students’ linguocountry-studies competence formation in non-linguistic surrounding is presented."

Key words: linguocountry-studies competence, the formation of the linguocountry-studies competence, non-linguistic surrounding, background knowledge, foreign language.


Relevance of the topic

It is now widely recognized that learning a foreign language, which is instrumental in international communication, has become one of the most important directions of contemporary education in Ukraine. Preparing primary school students for foreign language communication requires the formation of the linguocountry -studies competence, which is one of the main conditions for the foreign language proficiency, using it as a mean of communication. The involvement of national and cultural components in foreign language learning as one of the most important ways of transmission of national culture and identity formation are extremely important nowadays. Today only modernity recommends exploring language in connection with human activity which implies personality contribution to the spiritual values of other nations.

The analysis of research

The relevance of the mentioned problem is confirmed by many researches. Among them scientific revisions of E. Vereshchagin, V. Kostomarov, E. Passov, G. Tomahin, V. Furmanova.

The purpose formulation of research

Education is the formation of a human [6, 35]. The main purpose of foreign language teaching is to develop pupils’ foreign language communicative competence, which involves producing of their ability to master various types of competencies (language, speech, discursive, socio-cultural, multicultural, linguocountry-studies, geographic)[5, 8]. Our research is aimed to clarify the concept of “linguocountry-studies competence” and “non-linguistic surrounding”, the characteristics of their components, defining the elements of speech and non-speech communicative behavior, and acquainted with the ways and means of using linguocountry-studies materials in the process of teaching English in order to attract pupils to the culture of the people whose language is being studied.

The main material

Some authors note that the geographic and the linguocountry-studies competencies are part of the socio-cultural competence[4, 43]. The linguocountry-studies competence involves the possession of speech (style, tone, semantic features of words and phrases) and non-speech (facial expressions, gestures, character dialogue, address) behavior of native speakers. That refers to the authenticity of the speech, which promotes the ability of the speaker to use language forms according to the context and the language situation [5, 329].

Language is characterized by collects, preserves and reflects the facts and phenomena of nation’s culture. These facts and phenomena are generally known to all members of the linguistic community, as they absorbed it in learning, bringing up etc. For example, Americans are well aware that “Homes Abe” is a nickname of President Lincoln. Also they know that Woolworth or “cent stores” are cheap stuff shops.

Such information belongs to the so-called background knowledge. They are specific to residents of a particular country and largely unknown to foreigners, which usually make it difficult to communicate because understanding is not possible without a fundamental knowledge of the identity of the communicants of the surrounding reality. This background knowledge is implemented in certain linguistic resources but not exhausted by them. These features are non-equivalent lexical units (concepts that do not exist in other languages and cultures), abbreviations (ASAP – as soon as possible), names of social and cultural events life of the country (Boxing Day – the first day after Christmas Day that is not a Sunday), names of historical figures (Lady Di – Diana, Princess of Wales) and background vocabulary [4, 43-44] (foreign language words (lexemes) that carry information of national and cultural dimensions and need linguocountry-studies comments and can be translated in other words: letter box – a special box outside a house where letters, packages etc are delivered)[3, 99].

The formation of the linguocountry-studies competence of primary school students becomes more difficult in non-linguistic surrounding (learners’ native language surrounding). That is why great attention should be paid to the development and use of specific methodical techniques, learning tools and exercises. But second language teacher should remember about psycho-physiological and individual peculiarities of primary school students (ages 6 – 11): the level of personal, intellectual and social preparedness for learning of each pupil; a quick body growth; increasing of tiredness; neural and psychological mobility; flexibility of bone connection; excitation dominates over inhibition; involuntary attention; short-term and associative memory[5, 75-81]. Teacher should plan the educational process considering all the peculiarities of the primary school students’ age and use play activity, different interesting forms of work in positive classroom atmosphere.

Communicative sociolinguistic surrounding has extremely positive effect on the formation of pupils’ communicative skills and on the formation of the linguocountry-studies competence. If second language learners have access to a native-speaking informant, they could elicit speech and non-speech samples from native speakers, but in non-linguistic surrounding primary school students don’t have much access to native speakers and they can’t engage themselves in real communicative acts. It is important for second language teachers to make learners become aware of the sociolinguistic form step by step. Here is how: -Making use of pupils’ first language

There is some disagreement on whether the use of primary school students’ knowledge of the sociolinguistic systems of their first language is helpful to schoolchildren in becoming sociolinguistically competent in the second language. But it is useful to help pupils find parallels between native and foreign language culture during the explanation of the new material. This process seems to help pupils recognize the similarities between what they do using their first and what they should be do using their second language [1, 83-84]. For example, from the very beginning first formers should understand the intonation differences and similarities between native and foreign languages.

Teacher: (the explanation of this material can be accompanied by native language translation) Rising intonation [↗] is used in general questions (at the beginning of the sentence) in both languages (Ukrainian and English). But standard rising intonation in English first goes down a little and then up, and doesn’t go as high as the rise in Ukrainian does: “Is this a ↗ big dog?” (teacher demonstrates the intonation using both languages).

Exercise 1. Repeat some general questions after teacher. Pronounce each question in English and Ukrainian. Pay attention to your intonation (teacher shows the intonation patterns on the blackboard).

If the basics learned, primary school students would absorb other features of the second language without problems. For example, if third formers think about how they make requests in English, teacher asks some questions to guide them: Are you more polite in making a request of your teacher or of your friends? Why? [1, 84]. Also teacher can give a vivid example.

Teacher: Let’s imagine that Flounder, a young fish makes a request (asking for permission) of King Triton (Ariel’s father) to take his magic trident. You’ll hear two different variants of request and we’ll assume Triton’s reaction on each of them and we’ll help Flounder to choose the right one.

Flounder’s request 1: I’ll take your magic trident, OK? Teacher: Oh, King Triton supposed to be very angry. Do you know why? Pupils: King Triton supposed to be very angry because Flounder was not polite. Flounder’s request 2: Do you mind if I take your magic trident? Teacher: King Triton supposed to give Flounder his trident at least for one minute. Do you know why? Pupils: King Triton supposed to give Flounder his trident because Flounder’s request was polite. Pupils’ life experience can be taken into consideration too during making use of first language (from 1st to 4th form).

Exercise 2. Pronounce these sentences in commanding tone using your facial expressions and gestures. Teacher: Let’s imagine that you order (tell) somebody to do something. For example. Give me your book. You stop talking! Relax, everybody! Be quiet, can't you? Don’t be late!

Making use of pupils’ first language involves, as we can see, the possession of speech and non-speech behavior of native speakers. -Technical learning tools

Technical learning tools (TLT) – the equipment (specific media training materials, such as audio cassettes, CD, etc.) and hardware (slide projector, projector, tape recorder, video recorder, television complex, DVD-player, CD-player, PC etc.) used in the classroom in order to increase its effectiveness.

Computer programs which are implemented by using modern computers, ensure a great opportunity to organize and improve the process of primary school students’ foreign language learning due to presenting educational information in the visual (a text, graphics, a drawing, animation, video) and audio (speech, music, functional noise) forms.

The application of computers as multimedia tools allows the teacher to create a natural language surrounding, to simulate the communicative situation, mimic communication. Forms of work with computer training programs for language lessons include studying vocabulary, practicing grammatical phenomena, practicing pronunciation, learning dialogue and monologue speech, formation of writing skills [5, 67]. It can be useful while the formation of the linguocountry-studies competence during the all period of primary school (watching films, cartoons, different thematic dialogues, etc. which reveal the nature of speech and non-speech behavior of native speakers).

Exercise 1. Listen to the tape about London’s means of transport. Memorize it. Say as many means of transport as you can remember (2nd form).

Exercise 2. You are going to watch the short film about making a traditional English meal “Fish and Chips”. Watch and listen carefully to a chef describing how to make it (4th form).

-Computer-mediated communication (CMC)

Many foreign language educators have embraced the use of the computer-mediated communication in the classroom for the simple reason that it allows language learners to engage in authentic communication with native speakers who can provide them with “expert” feedback. Besides this principal characteristic, CMC also offers the opportunity for extensive language practice, for intercultural learning, for the development of the autonomy of the learners, and for reflection on form and content.

Synchronous CMC (communication in real-time such as text-chat) has generated a lot of support because it mimics oral conversation without involving the potential pressure while discussion. Moreover, online discussion allow for a more learner-centered surrounding where pupils are willing to take more risks and use less of their first language to communicate [2, 124-125]. Second language teachers can use CMC from the beginning (teacher: let me introduce my friend from England. Her name is Elizabeth. Say “Hello!” to Elizabeth. Today she is going to show you the beauty of the England’s park. And you will tell her about Ukrainian’s parks) till the end of the English course in primary school (teacher: Elizabeth is in touch. Today you are going to talk about Christmas celebrations).

So, without doubt, computer-mediated communication involves the possession of speech and non-speech behavior of native speakers.

-Teaching about functions in the language classroom

The most basic issue that pupils need to understand is that form does not always equal function. For example, without understanding this, primary school students cannot use expressions for function appropriately. It is useful therefore to introduce the pupils to the idea that form and function are not always the same. For example, by showing them dialogues using the same form for different functions and using the same function with different forms [1, 83]. Teaching about functions is appropriate during the learning of new grammar rules and idioms (combination of words that has a figurative meaning).

Exercise 1. Read the dialogue. Pay attention to the verb “have” (2nd form). For example. Speaker 1: Look! I have a nice kitten. Her name is Pinky. (notional verb) Speaker 2: Oh, she is so cute! Speaker 1: You have to buy a kitten too. (infinitive; modal verb) Speaker 2: Aha! Let’s play with Pinky! Speaker 1: Okay!

Exercise 2. Read the sentences. Explain the difference between the expressions “a piece of cake”. Try to explain the function of these expressions in each sentence (4th form). Sentence 1. Solving math problems is a piece of cake for him. (“easy for a person to do sth”) Sentence 2. He needs in piece of cake when he solves math problems. (“a piece of cake”– meaning is not changing)

Teaching about functions in the language classroom involves the possession of speech and non-speech behavior. -Commentary

Commentary is used to explain the meaning of words. During learning process the teacher should give a spoken description of some concept and clarify its characteristics, identify the specific (the City – the area of London which is Britain’s financial centre, and the important institutions there). Something such as a linguocountry-studies colorful book (1st – 4th forms) or article (3rd and 4th forms) can be used. Second language teachers can use this specific methodical technique relying on primary school students’ vocabulary. Commentary involves the possession of speech behavior of native speakers.

-Collage technique

Collage technique involves extension of the background of any key concept and creation its visual schematic image. Created image looks like a collage – a visual aid, like a poster, which is prepared by gluing verbal (lexical units cards) and non-verbal (pictures, photos, etc.) materials. In the center of the collage is a key concept, it surrounded by add-concepts, which make up its background surrounding. Collage can be created by primary school students during teacher’s guidance while reading the linguocountry-studies text. The creation of the collage by the teacher during oral commentary is possible too [4, 44-45]. For example, first formers can make a simple collage “Pack your school bag”.

Exercise 1. Look at these pictures. There is a school bag in the center of the collage. There are pictures with school items, toys and food. Choose items that you are going to put into the school bag and fix these pictures to the blackboard with magnets. Other pupils should pick up cards with faces of English people on it which show agreement or disagreement (1st form).

Collage technique can be successfully used either in first and second forms or third and fourth forms. The complexity of this technique depends only on the primary school students’ knowledge. It is important to use this technique from the very beginning because of pupils’ ability to create visual schematic image for any key concept.

Collage technique involves the possession of speech and non-speech behavior of native speakers by using both lexical units cards and photos which can show various facial expressions or gestures in different communicative situations.


Role-playing is often recommended to allow primary school students to practice what they have learned and to help them move from having knowledge of sociolinguistic appropriateness to being able to use what they know in a conversation. However, sometimes pupils may lack the proficiency to improvise role-plays or simulations on the spot: especially when they are performing in front of the class. One helpful idea is to have schoolchildren in pairs or groups, planning or writing out dialogues together before they “perform”. In addition to giving pupils time to prepare, this gives the teacher an opportunity to help the groups or pairs of children individually before the dialogues are performed in front of the class. The teacher can also make note of types of problems with usage that occur frequently and discuss them with the class as a whole during a feedback session after the performances [1, 84].

Exercise 1. Read and act the dialogue (2nd form). For example. In a Toy Store Salesclerk: Hello. What can I do for you? Buyer: Hello. I’m looking for a toy for my brother. Salesclerk: OK. How old is he? Buyer: He’ll be five on Monday. Salesclerk: Roller-skates are still very popular. Buyer: Hm. He can hurt himself. Salesclerk: What about a drum set? Buyer: I don’t think so. You see, he’s very intelligent boy. Salesclerk: I have the perfect thing! A do-it-yourself wooden kit. Buyer: Excellent! How much is it? Salesclerk: 75 hryvnias. Buyer: Here are 80 hryvnias. Salesclerk: Here’s your change. Buyer: Thank you. Salesclerk: You are welcome.

Exercise 2. Make up the dialogue based on the model in group. Act the dialogue using requisite: self-made money, toys, fruits, etc (3rd and 4th form).

Role-plays involve the possession of both speech and non-speech behavior of native speakers which helps to develop pupils’ foreign language communicative competence through the formation of linguocountry-studies competence.

It should be mentioned that in the process of learning a foreign language familiarize pupils with the culture of the people who use this language as a communication tool, increases not only practical but also educational, upbringing and developmental role of foreign language study because it promotes the overall worldview of pupils and forming their interest in language acquisition, turns on social activity of the person.


It is obvious that primary school pupils’ linguocountry-studies competence formation in non-linguistic surrounding is integral part of the development of pupils’ foreign language communicative competence. The linguocountry-studies competence is to learn what expressions are appropriate in what situation. As foreign language learners don’t have the appropriate access to native informant, and they can’t constantly check whether what they say is sociolinguistically appropriate, foreign language teacher plays an important role in setting up communicative situations and teach not only the form but the function of language. During which teacher could make use of the first language, because foreign language learning does not develop in a vacuum, pupils have already had a repertoire of communicative acts in the first language. Teacher could fully make use of the first language, make parallels between first and foreign language, so the pupils’ attention could be successfully drawn to social linguistic aspects of foreign language. Teaching about function in the language classroom plays an important role too. Using of technical learning tools, role-plays, collage technique and commentary teacher can form the linguocountry-studies competence of primary school students successfully and effectively. So, foreign language will be perfectly mastered in non-linguistic surrounding.


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