Literacy and Liberty

Story of a foreigner living in America
Posted by: , September 5, 2018, 10:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Encountering Amy Tan’s experience, I cannot help but relate to the difficulties she faced. Both being a non-native English speaker living in an environment where people speak nothing but English, the switching between different languages is inevitable. The language I used with my parents back home is my mother tongue, Vietnamese, which is the most proficient and pure and consists of no cursing words or abbreviation. The language I talked to my friends is the perfect combination of all the languages I have accumulated for the past 18 years, natural and simple. The third language I have just recently familiarized myself with is daily-life English, which requires certain amount of time to excel. Sometimes I take great pride in being a bilingual person, but some other time, I found myself disconnected with my own language; from time to time, I actually forgot Vietnamese expression and had to substitute it with English words. Back at home, during my preparation for the Common App, I usually went through some of my drafts for the final essay with my parents. I read the passage out loud in my perfect English accent only to be reminded that I eventually had to translate it into Vietnamese for them to follow. The obvious presence of difficulty lingered around my 18 years of language practices and it has yet to disappear.

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I feel as if I have never really thought about how many different variations of a language within itself there are. It is interesting to think about how you must know how to write academically in order to excel in classes, but that in order to communicate easily with your peers you must speak nearly an entirely different language.

   Meredith 09.06.18 @ 3:28 pm

Scarlett, thank you for sharing this reflection on the experience–at once grounding and disorienting–of bilingualism. I wonder if you reading your parents your Common Application essay might be the literacy event at the heart of your first essay. That would be a great place to start!

   Professor Seiler 09.06.18 @ 4:09 pm

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