Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (SLOVAKIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 2466-2473
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.0706
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
The study objective was to find out the language competence in the pupils in the Slovak language (a school language) in the first year of school attendance. The sample consisted of two groups of pupils including the pupils with the Slovak mother tongue (a language used in school) and the pupils with the Roma mother tongue.

Both groups were tested by the same standardized tests for Slovak pupils. The Picture Dictionary Test was used for indicative assessment of the extent of active vocabulary. The norms define levels of speech development; the maximal raw score is 30; the scores below 11 are considered a deficient level, and language competence is evaluated as inadequate for school education. The second test consisted of the subtest Sentence Building from the Heidelberg Speech Development Test; it tested the child’s ability to understand the meaning of words and to build grammatically correct sentences.

The results show two significant findings. The test scores in the Roma pupils were significantly lower than in the Slovak pupils. For Roma pupils, it is extremely important what environment they live in. We found out the weaker was the social environment they lived in the worse were their results in testing in both Slovak and Roma languages. So, the environment strongly determined their language competences. We ascribe this status to the possibility that children whose mother tongue is Roma come from socially disadvantaged environment which is accompanied by poverty and social exclusion. The environment children grow up in significantly influences also their language abilities and understanding of the concepts. Our findings are identical with those by Bourdieu (1990) who, based on his theories, states that children from socially more stimulating environment – families obtain better habitus and cultural capital as they are more prepared for school, are more linguistically efficient, and understand the concepts significantly better.
Social exclusion, Romani pupils, Language competence.