Decoding the Multilingual Mind: The Influence of Local Context on Language Learning in Turkey

Decoding the Multilingual Mind: The Influence of Local Context on Language Learning in Turkey

Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3738-4.ch014
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Any language is a way to discover another world with its unknown myths and stories. Through stories, language and literacy can fast forward people to a cultural scene in history by a mysterious time machine. The isolation of a historical castle near a unique peninsula right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, with all its magical myth and beauty, physically and culturally symbolizes that both localization and contextualizing are inseparable concepts of language learning. Through these stunning and vivid moments in life, collective memories of generations pass from one century to another via incredible flashbacks of stories. Likewise, a myth about a castle in the middle of the sea, as part of the author's language learning recollection, stayed in her mind while storing her first language. Her strong will to change the endings of sad stories motivated her to write her own story along with her own ending of preference that is planned and enriched by her language learning experiences. This linguistic study reveals the fact that she has had high motives to learn the English language, which is found to be a common feature in all accomplished second language learners. Upon reflection, several significant childhood memories seem to be at the root of her motivational approach to language learning. Within the context of this autobiographical research study, her childhood memories function as data while decoding her multilingual mind during her language learning adventures.
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A Magical Early Literacy Experience

It was hot and slow by the Mediterranean Sea. Daytime was parched by the sun. Bright stars shone like diamonds at night in the sky. I was at a magical summer camp in Turkey, where I used to stay every summer season since I was a mere two and a half years old. The summer camp was a little peninsula surrounded by crystal clear and salty seawater on all sides. In this summer camp, my parents were teachers. The rocky coast often let me delve into the deep dark blue coolness with a hint of freedom. The endless feeling of peace was so intense that I would even think I was in dreamland until the saltwater burned my eyes. I would not even care about the flaming sensation in my eyes because every time I opened them, it felt like I was swimming among clouds with a soft velvety feeling of seawater. When I looked at the puffy clouds to compare the spaces that I dreamed of with the beauty of reality, I could turn them into whatever shape I liked that was captured in the moment of my imagination. If I were tired after long hours of swimming, I could even see a pillow-shaped cloud. At the time, all I could think of was singing, dancing and swimming as a free soul (Hancı-Azizoglu, 2018, p. 4).

On the days of recurring daydreams, I often stared at “Maiden’s Castle, which was right across from the summer camp.” The castle was built in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea for a young Turkish princess centuries ago. How lonely that castle seemed to me, and how it gave me such heartache every time I remembered why it was actually built up. According to the myth, a king prayed day and night for a daughter many years ago. One day, the king’s wishes came true, and the princess was born. She became the symbol of a golden heart and pure beauty among the people. Then, a fortuneteller read the kingdom’s future in the palm of the princess. She said: Unfortunately, the princess’ destiny is not as beautiful as her face; she will be bitten by a snake,” The king was heartbroken. He did not say anything to his daughter, but he built a breathtaking castle in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea just to protect his daughter. The castle was surrounded by the sea to make sure that no snake would be able to reach and harm the princess. Without knowing what was going on, the poor princess was even in death imprisoned in this castle, and she could not stay away from the danger. One day, the princess was found lying on the ground unconscious. The guardians found a bunch of grapes in the princess’ hand, and they noticed a slithering snake in a basket full of grapes. She was too beautiful and young to be dead. When the king heard the news, he also died out of sorrow over the next couple of months.

This myth was my first memorable childhood literary experience. I stored every detail of this myth in my memory, even at times when I was too young to speak properly. I sadly mused that the Maiden Castle was isolated in the middle of the Mediterranean all alone without a princess. Every time I listened to this story, I wanted to change the ending of it. Actually, when I retold the story, I made up my own ending and told a happy story to other children instead. In my version of the story, the princess grew up, married a handsome prince, never ate the grapes and lived happily ever after. I hopelessly wondered how many times people overlooked the loneliness of this castle. I wondered about the feeling of emptiness when the princess was bitten by that cruel snake. How would a castle be imprisoned in the middle of such endless openness and beauty?

Ironically, the castle seemed like it was the most beautiful prison without chains surrounded by seawater while I felt like a free bird every time I swam towards it.“Was this the castle’s punishment?” I asked myself. The castle had no arms to rescue the princess when she gave her last breath, so I could not blame it. My heart was broken after listening to this princess story. On the island, the tropical scent of the Mediterranean was in the rustic air at all times. No one would ever want to escape this dreamland. This story, as a representation of my memorable first early literacy experience, is the one that motivated me to write a story of my own with the ending of my preference when I was only 8 years old.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Autobiography in Language Learning: Using autobiography as a qualitative research method to understand the process of language learning.

Multilingualism: The ability to speak and function in more than one language.

Decoding the Multilingual Mind: Internalizing the thinking processes of multilingual individuals through research techniques.

Life Stories in Language Learning: Writing individual stories of accomplished language learners in order to investigate the milestones in the language learning process.

Rote Language Learning: The ineffective and dull type of education, which is not suitable for digital native learners.

Localization in Language Learning: The status and function of language learning in one specific geographic area along with its cultural components.

Localization vs. Globalization in Language Learning: The local contextual characteristics of one language learning setting versus the global impact of language learning through recent and shared technological advancements.

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