Growing Up Speaking Spanish Essay

1654 words - 7 pages

Growing Up Speaking Spanish

Many people immigrate to the United States from different countries to begin a better life. Once in the American territory, the first step for success is to learn the English language. Richard Rodriguez, the writer of "Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood" describes the language decisions he faced as a child: "Outside the house was public society; inside the house was private" (16). The English language is the primary language in the United States, and it must be learned to be able to communicate with the public world. The language that we speak at home is considered to be private because it is only used in the presence of the people we feel comfortable with, our family. Families immigrate to the United States from Mexico to find and give their children a better opportunity to succeed. The children of immigrants who have been raised or born in the United States were able to adapt much faster to the English language. The Spanish language, in the case of Mexicans, is part of our origin that most of us inherit from our ancestors although in the United States many, including me, seem to add a new language, which gives us better opportunities.

My parents decided to immigrate to the United States when I was six years of age. As we established ourselves in the United States, my first language was only Spanish. Spanish was the language that I was taught at home, and it was the only language to be spoken at home. Rodriguez describes when he first entered his classroom where he was introduced to a formal English-speaking context, writing that, ?I remember to start with that day in Sacramento-a California now nearly thirty years past-when I first entered a classroom, able to understand some fifty stray English words? (11). The very first time I was introduced to the English language was the first day I began school. At that time, the teachers still taught bilingual classes, and I was able to understand and be understood. Most of my classmates spoke Spanish because they were also in the process of learning English; it is typical in a bilingual kindergarten classroom. Some of the students were much more advanced than others while a group of students at a time were taken apart in at little corner to be taught the numbers, the alphabet, and the sounds of each letter.

At first, speaking English was a bit difficult because I did not feel confident using it with others. The most advanced students sometimes made fun of my English. The students who spoke my own language made more fun of me than the ones who were fluent in English. The teasing by the students made me feel embarrassed and shy to speak the English language, giving me a fear of being made fun of or looked at differently. Practicing the English language with my own siblings and playing with the neighborhood kids who already managed the language gave me more confidence to speak English. Taking Spanish courses in school was also...

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