Richard Rodriguez being Spanish and Amy Tan, Chinese were both new to the English language at their respective schools. In the initial stages, both of them encountered difficulties in learning English. For Rodriguez, it was more of an attitude problem: he was averse to learning English as he considered it to be a public language of the outside world. English was not a personal language which he could use to converse with his family members at home (since they spoke in Spanish). Rodriguez emphasizes upon application of language to create a gap between public and private life. Owing to his Mexican birth he feels a gap in the use of native language, that is, Spanish, and English which was supposed to be the “public language”. As he could not foresee any benefits of learning this “public language”, he displayed his uncooperative attitude in school as well. He chose to remain silent and unresponsive when he was asked to speak aloud in English in his class. Amy Tan’s predicament with English was of a different nature. Unlike Rodriguez, she was quite receptive towards learning the new language. Her scores in the English achievement tests were fair, being in the sixtieth and seventieth percentile. However, she did face some difficulties in English grammar (Tan, 517). He was different from his English speaking mates in school. Once she was unable to choose the appropriate pair of semantic opposite words to complete a sentence. In another instance, when she had to select a pair of analogical words similar to given example, she was confused by the relation of the given pair of words. Gradually with practice, he was comfortable in use of English as a medium of expression. However as he introduced this language in his domestic setting, there was a growing distance between himself and his siblings and this is one of the factors responsible for his deviation from childhood times. Though Rodriguez and Tan were not much familiar with English (since none of them was from English speaking background or family), their attitude towards learning the new language was different.
1. Rodriguez, R. (1980), Aria: a memoir of a bilingual childhood, Education
2. Tan, A. (1990), “Mother Tongue”, In Williford, L. and M. Martone, Touchstone anthology of contemporary creative nonfiction, Simon and Schuster
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