William/ October 1, 2018/ Reflective Essay #1/ 3 comments

Language has always been in an awkward position between family and school ever since I was little. Especially when I was little, I had difficulties speaking at home and at school. Even though I was born here, my first language was Chinese since that’s what my family spoke at home. I later on learned English while in school but always behind the majority of the class.

The main problem is that my parent didn’t really teach me Chinese when I was little so I had to figure most of it by myself. So whenever I wanted to know the meaning of a word, I would need to find out through the context. Especially in the Chinese language, context is a big part of the language. I also was not taught how to read or write but I was able to learn a little bit of the easy words through subtitles of television shows. And at that time, I had a shy personality so I usually don’t ask my parents when I wanted to know something. So now I have some difficulties speaking with my family with the problem being not being able to speak as fluent.

Then, I had to start going to school where I eventually learned English. I can say for sure that it’s really hard to learn English if it’s not the first language. It’s probably the same for every language and I was not able to keep up with the class. No one in the class spoke Chinese so I was kind of isolated from everyone. But I remember when I was able to pick up English when I was repeating letters and words when the whole class was repeating after the teacher. Even today, I feel like I speak English better than Chinese even though my English is not that good either.

When I started to go to middle school and high school, I noticed people would know my bad accent and try stay away from me. Even at home, I talk really little to my family because whenever I speak it sounds and feels different from people who can speak Chinese fluently. So, I was stuck in this spot where I can’t speak either languages without a problem. Then, I practiced English to get rid of some my accent but couldn’t do the same for Chinese since I can’t read or write. For Chinese, now I’m taking a Chinese 101 course in college so I can speak better with my family.

There are always difficulties if your different than the usual and that’s why some people might find to hard speak with people who speak differently. Most people try to find people who speaks in a similar way as them and this makes it hard for people who have accents. It’s hard to get other people to change so I tried hard myself to practice English. Even though I might still not be able to speak English as well as others, I do feels not as isolated compared to when I had a heavy accent.

Questions:

  1. Is context really important in Chinese? (In my opinion, it is but I’m not sure and I put it in my essay.)
  2. Is it normal to be isolated for kids learning English as their second language in school?
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3 Comments

  1. Very good essay. I think you explained your background well and gave me a clear understanding of your languages. I do think you need to work on your sentence structures. Try to reread your essay to catch little grammar and spelling errors. Be careful with repeating the same thought in different ways. As far as the questions, they were supposed to be about how you can work on your essay, not about the content of your essay.

  2. Yes, I can see that put in lots of context regarding the Chinese language as really crucial to you in this essay. And I’m not saying that its normal to be isolated or not from ESL kids like yourself is because you see different kids who speak different language I won’t say isolation just there nit knowing a soul and by time once they get some of the English then you won’t feel this isolation that you stated.

  3. William, I think that you have described your dialect/language(s) with many details, but I would like to know more about how people perceive them – remember that the essay is about language attitudes. As a reader I need to clearly identify what type of attitudes speakers/individuals see and understand your dialect/language(s). For example, do they think that you are a highly educated or a more relax, laidback speaker? why? how can you explain these attitudes?

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