Perceiving the Materiality of Language in Teaching English Language Arts

E.A. Gamini Fonseka, PhD


As language is the medium of an art or a configuration of arts focused on communication, it is indispensable to realize the materiality of language with its potential to interpret the numerous phenomena in the environment. Our individual microcosms filled with messages on various complex situations received through our sensory channels exist in terms of strings of verbal language that help to re-create them for communication in whatever fashion we want. We experience language in meaningful utterances that function in singles or clusters to represent the life world in numerous registers. Our expressions inspired by our experiences of the life world are communicated through words orchestrated in grammatically patterned sentences. Like in other forms of art, in English language arts, teachers and learners can behave with confidence, when they realize the substance they deal with as oral sounds that gradually evolve into syllables, morphemes, signs, symbols, metaphors, and images, which creatively represent the life world. Against this background, I intend to demonstrate here the relevance of perceiving the materiality of language under the framework of a multifaceted unity of several disciplines, namely, phonology, morphology, semiotics, rhetoric, and stylistics that altogether contribute to a holistic approach to language. A concrete perception of language achieved in this manner helps to recover the learning process not only from inhibition and anxiety but also from fossilization and ephemerality.

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