Jessica Green 3-1-99 English 1 A-04 Essay #2 Final Draft I myself have never used my language to really shape my identity. I was born in the United States and English is the national language. Call me ignorant or selfish but I believe if you come here you should learn English. I do not care if you speak your language at home or with friends, but if you expect everyone to cater to you, you must be crazy.
You knew the national language when you arrived. The United States provides bilingual classes, bilingual voting ballots, as well as any information you might need. My family went to Europe last summer and they were treated very badly. No restaurants would serve them. When they did it was half an hour to an hour after locals, and they were charged for things the locals weren t, just because they didn t speak the native tongue.
I think Immigrants are lucky to live here. The least they could do is learn limited English. Discrimination on the basis of speaking non-standard English is a terrible thing for an immigrant to go through, but that s the whole purpose of learning so called standard English so that we can all understand each other in the land where the national language is English. Amy Tan describes a childhood during which she was pushed toward math and science like most Asian -Americans. She believes her language had a huge impact on her identity. She always felt limited because of the broken English that was spoken by her mother in her home and blames it for her lower test scores.
Tan explains, But I do think that the language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child. And I believe that it affected my results on achievement tests, IQ tests, an SAT (p. 199). Amy thinks that the language spoken in the home affects a child more than the language of her peer groups. Most of the time immigrant children or first generation still speak broken english. They tend to hang out together.
They pick others that speak the same because it is a comfortable environment for them. She believes because her mother did not speak standard english she could not understand what the test was asking for. Amy is also affected by the discrimination that her mother received because her mother spoke broken or limited English. Amy writes, I know this for a fact, because when I was growing up, my mother s limited English limited my perception of her. I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say.
That is, because she expressed them imperfectly her thoughts were imperfect (p. 198). That quote shows how she was unconsciously the one discriminating against her mother. Amy knows that limited english limits peoples perception because she herself did it. She was affected by the limited language and it was her own mother. Think of how easily others perception is limited.
Amy believes if something is not said correctly it must be wrong; the person must not know what they are talking about. As she got older she stopped thinking of her mother s English as being broken or limited but more simple for lack of a better word, (Tan p. 201). Maybe if we offered adult education free for immigrants the discrimination could be lessened. The United States only requires a simple vocabulary to live here. A base standard language is required so discrimination won t happen.
Some immigrants believe standard english is nesscessary to survive in a country where it is the national language. Richard Rodriguez was born in Mexico, and came to the United States when he was a boy. He says America is great because it is a society of individuals. Rodriguez says America is a melting pot, a society all its own and it continues to work because there is one standard language. Rodriguez writes, With the exception of the army, the classroom is the most subversive institution of America (p. 555-556).
I agree with him; you can be whatever you want at home but when you come to a classroom you must at least speak the same language so we can all understand each other with a common language. You must come together to learn. You give up everything to be on the same level. Everyone has a chance to learn together as a group. Rodriquez continues, In the classroom, children are taught that they belong to a group (p. 556).
If you teach them in their own language they will not be part of the group. One way to learn is by submerging yourself into the language. Rodriguez is against bilingual education, he believes it would, ... betray public education. There is no way for a child to use her family language in the classroom unless we diminish the notion of public school, unless we confuse the child utterly about what is expected of her. Bilingual classrooms imply we are going to expect less.
(p. 556). If we teach children in their own language they will never learn to socialize with others. If we are trying to teach them english so they can get jobs and function in the real world; why are we teaching them in their own language The children will be confused you want them to learn english yet you are teaching them in their language.
They will get confused, frustrated and maybe just stop trying. Rodriguez attended public schools. He felt English was good for him; it was necessary to be understood so he would not be left out or made fun of. Rodriguez explains, Classroom language, on the other hand, is unyielding, impersonal, blind, public-there are rules, there are limits, there are inevitable embarrassments, but there are no exceptions. The child is expected to speak up, to make himself understood to an audience of boys and girls (p. 556).
The children need to know how to communicate. The class room is a neutral ground; everyone gives part of themselves up for the sake of learning. It is not easy for anyone. The thirst for knowledge is their common ground. They are all in the same boat. Rodriguez writes, In order to work, to continue existing as a country, America required some uniform sense of itself (Rodriguez p 557).
No one is alone; language brings us together. We are a melting pot with a common destiny. Therefore we must work together with our diversities but with shared goals. I strongly agree with Rodriguez; finally an immigrant who agrees that it s important to be able to communicate with a common language. He was totally right; English is good for you if you live in the United States. We must understand that diversity is our strength, not our weakness.
America is a melting pot, but if the different cultures cannot understand each other we will make no progress as a nation. Rodriguez refers to Huck Finn as being what Americans considered a version of life. Rodriguez considers Huck s language no standard which is true and calls him an archetypal bilingual child (p. 558). That s interesting because Huck Finn is a classic and yet he did not speak standard English. I understand everyone has two languages but it is necessary to have a standard.
Both Amy Tan and Richard Rodriguez agree that everyone uses two languages. The difference between them is that Amy thought of her language as an imperfection that limited her, while Rodriguez didn t consider it a handicap, but instead thought that English was good for him. Either way the bottom line is that the national language is standard English. To continue to grow as a nation we must have a standard. We must work together without diversities but with shared goals. Rodriguez writes, and from the school marm s achievement came the possibility of a shared history and a shared future.
(p. 557). The children are our future. The school marm has educated our children.
Together we will grow stronger with our diversities. America is a melting pot and two in their meeting are changed (Rodriguez p. 555), but were both changed together for a better understanding of tomorrow.