In his piece called “Aria,” Rodriguez argues that bilingual children should be allowed to be comfortable with having two linguistic worlds. He argues that neither identity should dictate over the other. Both the public and private identities should be valued by the individual. Too often, our multilingual students lose a sense of themselves, as they assimilate into the dominant culture.
“as we learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents. Sentences needed to be spoken slowly when a child addressed his mother or father. (Often the parent wouldn’t understand.) The child would need to repeat himself (Still the parent misunderstood.) The young voice, frustrated, would end up saying, “Never mind—the subject was closed. Dinners would be noisy with the clinking of knives and forks against dishes. My mother would smile softly between her remarks; my father at the other end of the table would chew and chew at his food, while he stared over the heads of his children.” (37).
I felt that this family of children learning English was in some ways the breakdown of the family. Communication became frustrating. I am somewhat surprised that how these children, now bilingual, didn’t revert back to Spanish to communicate with their parents once they become comfortable with their public language. I think it is interesting how his mother would still attempt to be a part of the circle, while the father almost distances himself from conversation with his family at all. He stares beyond them, all closeness appearing to be lost. Later in the article, Rodriguez mentions that he even loses the names to call his parents—no name actually fits. :(
The article made me sad. When I finished, I found myself just sitting sitting and thinking about how language effected this family. Language had the power to pull apart a family unit. The article made me see the importance of balance of language in the classroom. As a speaker of only English, I never thought I might be putting my students in a situation where they are being alienated from their families. I appreciate other languages, but I’m not sure I do a good enough job of incorporating it into my classroom and curriculum