In recent decades, Slovenian sociolinguistic situation and within the functions of different language varieties have dramatically changed. In spite of this process, the standard language remains a language variety that enables an individual to participate equally in educational and public life. As the Slovenian schools are not successful enough in developing of the discursive flexibility and mastering of the standard language, in the article, the functions of Standard language in modern Slovenian-speaking society is described; the specific groups of primary Slovenian language speakers are defined, and some solutions for improving the first language learning are suggested.
In 1990’s, in opposite to the prevailing traditional structural language-stratification theory, the new classification of the primary sociolects, based on the English functional linguistics, by A. E. Skubic was represented. According to his theory, the sociolects are defined as non-hierarchically ordered cultivated or marginal language varieties that are used and identified with by different social groups. Based on Skubic’s classification, two main groups of primary-Slovenian language speakers can be described. The speakers of the cultivated primary sociolects are mostly self-confident users of language, identifying themselves with the main culture. In opposite, the speakers of the marginal sociolects could be de-privileged due to their linguistic deficit in standard language and micro-cultural discursive patterns, used in educational or public contexts.
As it is suggested, to improve students’ linguistic competence and diminish deficits, the discursive flexibility should be understood as a complex awareness, consisting of cognitive, emotional-evaluative and active dimensions. Therefore, the basic principle of first language teaching should become the extended holistic principle, emphasizing the inclusion of standard and different non-standard language varieties, observation of their different functions in specific communicative situations and reflection about the complex context, that can be implemented to first language teaching in all basic phases of learning.
In the didactics of the Slovenian language as the first language the term language awareness is related primarily to the identity function of standard language as the most important element of the national and cultural awareness, while the conception of language awareness, based on the functional linguistics, has been put forward only in the last decade. Therefore, the main issue is how to understand language and linguistic cultural awareness in a society which is traditionally considered “culturally monolithic”, and how they should be dealt with in the first language teaching. In attempt to find the answer, first main features of both the language and linguistic cultural awareness are presented: their levels, components and emphasized language functions. It is evident that a person’s linguistic activity and his/her linguistic identification are inseparable. Because of this, the development of language and cultural awareness in the context of two models of first language teaching is discussed later on. In the model aimed at the development of functional communicative competence they are developed optionally and unrelated to each other. Only the model which aims at critical communicative competence allows developing them closely related to each other and to critical thinking.