Standard English


Standard English Essay, Research Paper

Jessica Green


English 1A-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, and 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


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

continuos 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


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.

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