Speaking Spanish In The Usa Essay

1792 words - 7 pages

As a child, 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 Spanish 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… that 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 to discourage 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 Anzaldúa experienced psychological abuse. Anzaldúa 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 Anzaldúa 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 Anzaldúa 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 (Anzaldúa 374). Anzaldúa writes, “Chicanos and other people of color suffer economically… for not acculturating” (381). Like, Anzaldúa her mother had experience the effects of “Anglo colonization” (Anzaldúa 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 Anzaldúa 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 (Anzaldúa 379). On the other hand, the resentful minority group (Spanish speakers) expected her not to use the “oppressor’s language” (Anzaldúa 375).The impact of all these events, influence Anzaldúa 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 Anzaldúa writes, “ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity” (378). If her prediction becomes reality, then most of what...

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