Sunday, September 29, 2013

¿Dónde Está Aria? (Exploring Aria by Richard Rodriguez)

Talking Points #2 - Quotes 

The article I decided to explore this week was Aria by Richard Rodriquez because I found it to be an interesting and personal depiction of a english language learner.  There were parts that I totally found heart breaking and I felt for Richard.  

1."Without question, it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom.  I would have felt much less afraid. I would have trusted them and responded with ease.  But I would have delayed---for how long postponed?---having to learn the language of public society. I would have evaded---and for how long could I have afforded to delay?---learning the great lesson of school, that I had a public identity." (p.34)
  • I feel like this quote sets the reader up for the main point of this entire article.  This article is about a young boy struggling to find his identity as a spanish speaker in America.  I have to say some things did bother me while reading this text which I will get to later.  All he wanted to hear was that he had the right to be allowed to learn the public language of "los gringos." This article stresses the issue with the melting pot! We focus too much on changing someone's culture. Instead, we should embrace it! 

2. "The family's quiet was partly due to the fact that, as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents." (p.37)
  • I couldn't help feel really sad for Richard!  Even though, he was learning English and able to communicate with his peers, he was growing distant to his immediate family.  At one point, he said in the article that the loss of his spanish culture and those endearing words drove a wedge in between the closeness of his family.  I couldn't help but wonder how hard that must've been.

3. "They do not seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized.  So they do not 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." (p.38-39)
  • Richard Rodriguez makes the argument for the necessity of assimilation. He states that someone can be an individual in two ways through private and public displays.  Therefore, he argues that one can maintain their private and close culture while joining a bigger culture.  He says their are ways to integrate the two together.  You don't need to lose yourself and your heritage to be assimilated. 

It was hard to just pick one article this week because I believe this article and the other one by Virginia Collier are great companions to one another.  I read Aria first and while I  was reading Teaching Multilingual Children I kept thinking back to the Rodriguez piece.  If Rodriquez's teachers followed some of the steps that Collier, presented in her piece then I think he would've still been able to maintain his closeness to his family.  Take for example, Collier's third rule for ESL teachers "Don't teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language." This was the big mistake that the nuns made at the very beginning by implying to Richard's parents that he was a bad student because his English wasn't as good yet.  They wanted his parents to only speak English which kind of diminished the culture of the family a little bit.  

Richard Rodriguez

Personal Reflection:

I found this article to be very interesting because it provided me with a different viewpoint for all people that are trying to learn English as a second language.  This made me think of my Mom because when she was young, she came to America from Portugal and had to learn English.  I never realized how difficult that must've been for her or how much she felt like she was giving up of her own self-identity.   I mean I know it's hard to learn English but I never realized how much more than just learning the language is involved; it's a very personal thing.  You really have to struggle to find your identity, so I have a tons more respect for all the English Language Learners out there!

Point to Share:

The point that I believe is essential to share is the points that Rodriguez was trying to make.  Is it ok for someone to feel like they're losing a part of who they are to be assimilated to the American Culture? What are some things that we can implement in schooling systems that will be more beneficial to the English Language Learners?


  1. Hi Alex,
    I love the point you made in your first quote! All Richard wanted to hear was that he had the right to speak the public language. People tend to judge those who speak a different language by saying they should be speaking English (because they are in America) but what if they feel exactly like Richard felt-like they need to hear that they have the right to speak it? You also picked a great cartoon to depict the point of not only Rodriguez's article but also Collier. Students feel "alone" when they are trying to learn a new language. It is our responsibility as future teachers to make them feel comfortable in their learning experience but also not to forget about their culture and home life.

  2. Hi Alex,

    You really manage to find some great visuals. :)

    I had the same feeling while reading "Aria" that you mention after your second quote. While Rodriguez is successful in learning English through the eradication method imposed by the nuns, it is at a cost. The shift in his family dynamic caused by the "shedding" of his cultural identity is truly sad, all the way down to his being unsure of which terms to use to address his parents.

    Also, it's great how you compare the method Rodriguez experienced to the one that Collier proposed in her article. They are very different routes to get to the same goal, and I agree with you that if he'd had a Collier experience, he probably would have been able to keep his original family dynamic intact.

    See you in class!
    - Jamie

  3. Alex,
    I agree completely when you mentioned the melting pot point. We really do need to embrace other languages and not making people completely forget their own language because it is apart of who they are. Also I love your pictures !

  4. Hi Alex,

    As always your blog looks great love the images. I love your personal reflection referring to your mom. I agree with you I feel people should be able to keep their own individuality .

    Great job,

  5. Hi Alex,
    I just have to say that your blog is fantastic!!! And I want to know how to you do it !!! I was pondering your question about what can be implemented in schools to help ESL learners. I have been struggling with this question ever since we started doing our SLP. I have seen some of the methods and have spoken about them in class, but for some reason they don't sit well with me. Perhaps this is because I don't have all of the " tools" yet. I wonder if the intergration of multiple languages in the classroom would be benefical, not only to the ESL students, but as a whole. I think it's imperative to maintain individuality and perserve culture. A good start might be a 'culture project' where students educate their classmates on their respected cultures in many aspects....
    I apologize for the length of this response!!!!