“English Not a Native Tongue” English as a second language is an issue now days. Many people that don’t speak or write English, life tends to be a bit harsh on them. I personally have experience how difficult it is when one is not born in a family where English is not the native language.
I came across two great essays, written by Amy Tan and Richard Rodriguez. These two great authors wrote about the challenges they faced while growing up in families that English was not their native tongue. Tan from an Asian family, and Rodriguez of a Mexican family.While reading these two essays I notice that they are related to each other in similar ways, although they have different outcomes.
In both essays school plays a huge role, for their success of Tan and Rodriguez life. Both authors write about their family relationship, each of them express their feeling towards them. Also the parents have to do, a lot with the success of their education and in their lives. Both essays school has a really interesting part in each author lives. For example Rodriguez essays talks about being shy, not wanting to raise his hand to answer questions been asked.He thought that the classmates would laugh at him, therefore he didn’t participate.
When the nuns picked on him to read, he would mumble, he looked down at the floor, even thought the nuns told him to speak up and put his head up. After the day, 3 nuns went to Rodriguez house to speak with the parents, and to find a solution to Rodriguez behavior in class. As a non-English speaker I know how hard it is for one to speak out loud, its nerve wrecking because you don’t know if the people around are going laugh or what?With Tan situation it’s a similar path with Rodriguez.
But the differences were that the school steered her to science and math subjects. She stuck to the English subject because; she saw that there was no right or wrong answer, unlike math or science. Tan school was not really involved with her parents, when it came to finding ways for here to speak properly.
The school helped her achieve success through books. From both essays I read, I relate myself to Rodriguez in the way that, the school was involved with my parents.Both my parents had communication with school teachers and counselors to find out the progress of my education. I too felt the same way Rodriguez did, while sitting in class and not knowing the answer for simple questions being asked. Whenever I did get call on in class, my classmate would laugh to my improper pronunciation.
Amy Tan writes about how she felt when she herds her mother talk improper English. Tan’s mother spoke her own “limited” (446) English. Therefore she was ashamed of her. Tan realized that her mothers English “reflected the quality of what she had to say. (447) she also saw that for that same reason her mother was not taking seriously at public places, sometimes people would act like they never herd what she had said. Tan really didn’t do anything, to change the way her mother spoke, instead she spoke the same way too.
For example the day she found her self saying “not waste money that way”. She realized that she didn’t care how she spoke, but how she made her mother feel comfortable; because over the time that was the English of “intimacy” (446) they spoke.With Rodriguez case he talks about a great deal of emotions. He mentions the night that him and his father where at the gas station listening to his dad trying to speak to the attendant. He describes how hard it was for his father to express himself. After that experience he took off running, while his father was going to put his hand on Richard’s shoulder. He felt awkward to the situation, also feeling ashamed of his father not speaking the language.
Rodriguez mother also didn’t speak the public language, therefore Richard had to daily errands for her.After Rodriguez learned to speak and write the public language, he became the representative of the family. With any issue he was the one, which the parents came too. After a while the family became more publicly confident of their new language.
They began to lose their identity as a closed family. They become “Americanized” (574) now the brother and sister did not feel urge of running back home nor did Rodriguez. Rodriguez mother became more confident of her self too. She decided to install a telephone in their house.While they sat at the dinner table, Rodriguez father tried to say grace in English, but everyone laughed at him, because of all of the family he was the wont that had more trouble pronunciation of the public language of the “gringos” (572).
As they spoke more English they begin to fall apart as a family of Hispanic decent. They kids lost they proper way to address their parents, especially their mother. Rodriguez had lost the soft and respectful words that he had learned in the “private language” (527). The only one that seems to be still that same was the father.And because of the lack of English he didn’t say much to the family, even though the mother was making up things, like he had rough child hood. I related to some parts of both essays.
But I have not lost my identity, my identity as a Mexican, Hispanic or Latino however you want to categorize me, has never been lost I still have my roots, I still find ways that I can speak to my mother correctly even though my parents are not fluent with the public language they have not grown apart, they are always there whenever we need them.In both sides of the stories the parents had to do a lot, with the education of their children. One family had more involvement with the academics of their kids. After the nuns went to Rodriguez house to encourage his parents to take more action in the learning and to speak more English at home with their kid, the change immediately took place. The parent’s rite away said that everyone had to speak English at home. Even though, both parents didn’t know much at the time. They still put emphasis and try their best to speak the “public language” (572).With Tan here story was different; her mother didn’t do much to help her speak proper English.
Tan doesn’t write much about her, she explains that her mother also had her way of speaking English, and Tan also used that same way while being around her. Both my parents don’t speak proper English but as Mexican culture, parents have to help their kids on their success, therefore my parents have put extra time, to find ways that we can improve ourselves for the future. Tan and Rodriguez write about the similar difficulties they came across while growing up in families that did not speak a word of English.They talk about the troubles they went trough out their lives. But all of these suffering that they encounter, made them stronger and helped them find ways to succeed. Both became great authors, they have published many books, but all of that success, end in one thing they took advantage of learn to write and speak the English language. Rodriguez suffering made him overcome his fears and assimilated into the public society.
While Tan realized that her success was when her mother was able to read and understand her simple writing.