Research Paper

1500 words - 6 pages

I was only nine years old, the year 1991. I had to navigate from an English speaking classroom to a Spanish speaking home. From eight in the morning I was given instruction in English by my professors at school. After three in the afternoon at home I engaged in Spanish conversation with my mother, father, and siblings. When the summer vacation came around, it was back to speaking español only, and then I regained the Mexican accent that had faded away during the school year.
My experience learning English was different from what earlier Spanish speaking generations in the United States dealt with. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Gloria Anzaldúa writes, “being caught speaking Spanish at recess…was good for three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler” (Anzaldúa 374). Born in 1942, a few years later Anzaldua was dealing with physical abuse discouraging her from speaking Spanish at school (Anzaldua 373). In my experience, learning a few words of English as a child was rewarded with stickers that read “good job” or “fantastic”. More than physical abuse Anzaldua experienced psychological abuse. Anzaldua writes, “if you want to be American, speak ‘American’. If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong” those were the words of the Anglo teacher reminding Anzaldua of the society she was living in (374). The little girl was a “sixth-generation Tejana”, and the only country she recognized as home was the United States of America (Anzaldúa 373). In spite of the physical and psychological abuse Anzaldua continue her American education, why? Her mother played a role. At home, her mother reminded her to, “speak English properly” and not “like a Mexican” to get a good job in American society (Anzaldua 374). Anzaldua writes, “Chicanos and other people of color suffer economically… for not acculturating” (381). Like Anzaldua, her mother had experience the effects of “Anglo colonization” (Anzaldua 376). In other words, her mother had been influenced by American values. For this reason, she pushed her daughter to become more like the dominant society (American) and less like the minority group (Mexican). As Anzaldua integrated to American culture she continued to experience discriminatory circumstances. For instance, while she attended “Pan American University” she had to enroll in speech class “to get rid of [her] [accent]” (Anzaldúa 374). Then, when she “taught High School English” she was discouraged by the principal to using Chicano literature in her class (379). On the other hand, the resentful minority group (“Spanish speakers”) expected her not to use the “oppressor’s language” (Anzaldua 375).The impact of all these events, influence Anzaldua to believe that “by the end of this century English, and not Spanish, will be the mother tongue of most Chicanos and Latinos” (Anzaldúa 378). This is important, because Anzaldua writes, “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity” (378). If her prediction becomes reality, then most of what...

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