Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rich-Heard Rodrigues: Aria


Aria By; Richard Rodriguez

In his piece Aria, Richard Rodrigues essentially tells the audience what it was like to grow up as an English second learner. He doesn't seem to have an argument in the sense where he explains what's wrong with the bilingual teaching programs in place, and tells us how to fix them, but his purpose rather seems to be sharing HIS experiences, and how the system serviced, or disserviced him.

Rodriguez informs us that as a child, he assumed English and Spanish were separate, if you gained one, you lost the other and vice versa. The languages were exclusive, and couldn't both have value. So for awhile, he held on to Spanish, refusing to learn English in school, but reveling in the privacy and closeness that speaking Spanish provided his family. Some nuns from his school realized that unless he began to acquire English, he would never be able to funtion to his full potential in a country where English is the primary language. So they visited his house, and spoke with his parents, who then decided to work with their children to learn English. I think it is very commendable that his parents were willing to work with their kids, and the school to insure a better life for them, however it's sad that in doing this, they also alienated the beauty and bonding that Spanish provided them instead of utilizing both. When he gained English and all the opportunies provided in the language, he also lost what Spanish provided him. In learning English, Richard and his siblings grew apart from their parents who didn't pick it up so quickly. How hard must it be as parents to know you are providing your children the tools to make a better world for themselves, but at the same time alienating them from yourself. Were they happy they provided these opportunites? Or mournful of what they lost? Rodriguez closes the article by summarizing that "bilingual educators say that children lose a degree of 'individuality' by becoming assimilated into public society. But the bilinguists simplisticlaly scorn the value and necessity of assmilation. They do that seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do that realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality." (Rodriguez, 39)

Perhaps Rodriguez is not a good example of the teaching strategies discussed in Teaching Multilingual Children. The goal of which is to provide children education in the standard language they need to succeed in this country, but also cherish and cultivate an appreciation for the language and dialects they already possess. Instead of alienating the original language like Richard did, learning what opportunities and benefits both languages provide. Teaching this way is obviously very difficult, but like any other method of teaching, with proper and complete education and training, it is possible, and will provide the children being educated the best education possible, which is the ultimate goal.


  1. Love reading your posts but what is your argument? That students should be taught in their primary language and that whichever country they are assimilating in to,its primary language becomes their second language instead of primary?

  2. My argument is that I don't think Rodrigues was trying to prove anything. I think he was giving his testimonial of what the current systems in place did for him. His argument then would just be enlightenment.
    Glad to hear you enjoy them!

  3. I liked the last part of your blog where you mentioned that language should be cherished and not pushed aside and I completely agree. Your first language shouldn't be changed because it is doesn't fit in with society. There should be a way to teach children both languages without letting them fall behind.