I cam upon a blog titled Being Multilingual during project one. However, I was waiting for a chance to write about it. The author of this blog is a freelance linguist who was born in Portugal who is well versed in her native language, English, and French. While she acquired these languages she also raised three trilingual children. What caught my eye was a blog post on her page by a guest blogger, Ng Wan Qing Jessie, who is currently working as an English language teacher. She describes, in the blog, how hard it was growing up learning three different languages and her struggle for recognition as an adequate English language teacher. Jessie if of Chinese decent and due to her outward appearance she is continuously discriminated against as incompetent. As an individual with a Master’s degree in English, I find it hard to believe that such assurances still take place today. As Motha says on page 10 of her introduction Race, Empire, and English; English is usually synonymized with Whiteness. Therefore, I suggest that this is why Jessie faces such discrimination. In her position it does not matter that she is well qualified to teach English, her outward appearance will always garner a form of assumption from another individual. Jessie even gives us her own experience with ESL literature as she tried to diversify her knowledge of her teaching experience. However, in the literature that she read of ESL/EFL teaching at the end of them they always emphasized native-speakers or native –sounding speakers. This is something that I did not know, as I read Motha’s introduction I did not realize that the ESL teachers that she spoke to were native-speakers of English. However, I believe that this might not always be the case. My question is, as I read Jessie’s guest blog was that how can we go past teacher to teacher discrimination. In Dr. Suhr-Sytsma’s class most of the readings have been geared towards reliving stigma from students, however not really on non-native teachers.
Staff, ICTMN. "Indian Country Today Media Network." Student Suspended for Speaking Native American Language. 7 February 2012. Web. 27 February 2015.
There was an article that my friend showed me last semester which I thought was related to the topic of this class, and closely to Motha’s essay. Since Motha is directing her written work towards the audience of teachers, specifically ESL/ESOL teacher, I though this article, “Student Suspended for Speaking Native American Language,” would be a good way to see the type of teaching that has perpetuated language divide. Miranda was a twelve-year old girl who attended Sacred Heart Catholic Academy which is locate in Wisconsin. When she was teaching a fellow classmate some words in her native language her teacher got mad at her and asked “would you like it if I spoke in Polish and you didn’t understand” (Staff, 2012). For words that translated to “hello” and “I love you” from “posoh” and “ketapanen” she was suspended and benched from the school (Staff, 2012). I was amazed that this level of discrimination still happens. I know when I was in elementary school and middle school I was made fun of and even the teachers would sometimes act indifferent towards me. However, I did not experience anything on the scale Miranda did. Since English teaching should be “a neutral enterprise or even benevolent one,” (Motha, xxi) it is a surprise that language discrimination still exists. The fear of letting your native language out is represented through Miranda, if one does not abide by the rules there are repercussions or a consequence unjust as Miranda’s suspension. For Motha’s question: “To what degree are we called upon to be conscious and mindful of potential mishaps,…” (Motha, 18), I feel as if this case is a great example of where the disconnect between students and teachers may happen. This instance is where teachers should have consciousness and be aware that this method perpetuates the desire for some students to cast away their native language or perfect their new language so there is no trace of their old. The article is incomplete in that it does not tell us what the school did to right this wrong. My question would be of how this can be addressed or resolved in the teaching arena, as Motha points out there have been strides towards eliminating this type of discrimination. However, I argue that the world is not aware of this discrimination. When I tell others of my experiences in ESOL classes they are surprised, when I tell them how I was made fun of or bullied in school because of the way I talked they seem to think I am exaggerating on some cases. Even in the article I linked the whole story was not told. There are unanswered questions on whether the teacher still works there, if they are taking steps to grow their educational system, and how Miranda was handled after this wrong doing. There has to be more awareness in our country because I believe a lot of people honestly do not know.
Project 2 Abstract: “English Only,” African American Contributions to Standardized Communication Structures, and the Potential for Social Transformation
In this section of the book, "Cross-Language Relations in Composition," Elaine Richardson argues that the promotion of "English Only" in our society. She suggests that "standardized languages ideologies" (Richardson, 97) has parallelism outcomes of colonialism and how it perpetuates eradication and inferiority of other languages. Richardson brings light to African American vernacular which has had to fight for their right since the coined phrases against their language from the time of slavery. She suggests that African Americans have been over time “de-politicized” (Richardson, 98) due colonial legacies and racist acts. Richardson proposes that with Congress’s imposed rule of only English policies in the United States would be a hindrance to its diverse cultural population. Her purpose is to bring awareness of why individuals should not let themselves be marginalized when languages is an important form of communication on our world. Richardson also uses coined terms that has described African American English, one in particular call Ebonics (Richardson, 100). To supplement her argument Richardson brings in outside voices such as DuBois, Woodson, Douglass, and many more to convey her concepts against the “English Only” policy in place. Richardson also brings the view point of Afrodiasporic discourse and how it promotes free style writing. She proposes that this form of writing is a historical practices that should give us knowledge about how languages can be on the same playing field. Words such as ghetto are thrown around a lot and Richardson argues that this is because Black rhetoric is ostracized, has been, and will continue to be unless change occurs. Richardson concludes by elaborating on how the “English Only” policy gives individuals a narrow mindset which undermines other languages and keeps a dominant role.
Horner, Bruce. and Lu, Min-Zhan. and Matsuda, Paul Kei. Cross-Language Relations in Composition.Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010. Project MUSE. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.
As Dr. Suhr-Sytsma mentioned in class when we started our discussion on Canagarajah's that there is a beneficial difference between learning a language for an hour a day and being completely submerged into the language but also its culture. My teacher, Mr. V, during senior year in high school would always say that learning multiple languages can not only expand your vocabulary but also expand your capacity to learn new materials. I used to think he said this just to motivate us to engage in class discussions until we had to write a paper about how acquiring another language can be beneficial in our life. I came across an NPR article by Barbara J. King on the idea f how learning different languages can help with dementia (King,2013). King gives us a summary of how 648 patients who suffered from Alzheimer, frontotemporal, and vascular dementia were able to delay the onset of these diseases (King,2013). Of the 648 patients, 391 were able to speak a different language but after reading Young’s and Cangarajah’s essay I view this article in a different way. I would like to first draw to you that through King’s writing he uses words such as, monolingual and bilingual which Canagarajah implies that these terms separate languages and give them limitations (Canagarajah,8). King also states that his “almost-monolingual brain is jealous,” however what King does not realize that his language, English, includes a mixture of words from other languages which in turn gives him “translingual competence,” (Canagarajah, 8). King describes how India, the country where the research took place, is a country filled with linguistic diversity because they are exposed to at least three different languages because they are simply surrounded by multiple languages (King,2013). This is what Dr. Suhr-Sytsma meant about learning a language and being submerged into it. Since the people who reside in India are surrounded by many diverse cultures they must acquire different languages in order to effectively communicate to others. From this article we can see that having the ability to FULLY understand other languages can also be mentally beneficial for many individuals. King’s idea that speaking multiple languages “allows some degree of flexibility in personal expression” (King, 2013) correlates with Young’s concept of Black English as a form of expression in terms of writing (Young, 70). Multilingualism, in my opinion is a snowball. At first it acquired little momentum in the beginning, but as I have grown up the idea its positive impact has snowballed into its need in our education today. The idea that it can also be medically beneficial could take its necessity to another level.
Citation: King, B. J. (2013). New Study Shows Brain Benefits of Bilingualism. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/11/14/244813470/new-study-shows-brain-benefits-of-bilingualism
When I first came to America I doubted that I could ever catch up to the complex English system. Surprisingly I did, but my quick gain in English proficiency came at a disadvantage to my native languages. When I could not communicate effectively with my aunts and uncles while we visited them I felt embarrassed. I hated my own language barrier restrictions and tried to overcome them. At home I requested for my mom to speak to me in our native language, Yoruba, and I realized that I had some level of literate competence (3) as I used crossing to communicate with her. I felt that I was gaining a piece of my identity back each time I added to my limited vocabulary. My uncle wanted me to know a bit of Portuguese therefore, with Polyglot Dialog (5) I was able to communicate a little bit with him.
Uncle: Meu nome é Charles.
Me: Meu nome é Gloria.
Uncle: Onde está a sua escola?
Me: My escole é in Covington, Georgia.
Uncle: Quantos anos você tem?
Me: Eu sou sixteen.
Our conversation was a very basic one and while we were talking I used multimodality (7) to help get my ideas across. I agree with Canagarajah when he said bilingual competence is not needed to communicate because my uncle understood me (10).
During my high school years learned Spanish, and junior year I had the opportunity to go to Spain. When I spoke sometimes I would use the wrong conjugation, but I gained practice from just trying. I strongly believe in one of Canagarajah's saying that "language orientation focuses on practices and process rather than products" (10). With hard work and a lot of practice I know that I can refine my Spanish and one day conquer my native languages.
Work Cited: Canagarajah, Suresh. Translingual Practice. Print.