Bilingualism Relation To Identity

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Being human being communicative, interestingly, language reveals much more what we speak out, not only a means of communication. Simultaneously, language also develops to meet the need of communication of people. Therefore, it can be stated that your language can reveal many things about your identity. Bilingualism and biculturalism are intertwined terms that have influenced the social model of modern society. While bilingualism helps us keep our native language intact, biculturalism reminds of our true roots and background. In a world with the diminishing cultural boundary line, bilingualism and biculturalism are important factors that help preserve one’s cultural identity. Bilingualism, where individuals have a superior command over one language compared to another, contributes to how a person is. The ability to speak or read and write more than one language allows the individual to think in more than one perspective and has multiple ways to express themselves.

Mother Tongue by Amy Tan highlights the relationship between bilingualism and identity. Amy Tan is an Asian American writer whose work focuses a lot on the relationship between mothers and daughters. In her essay, Mother Tongue we see an article about Amy Tan contemplating how her background affected her life, her education, held her between two worlds and brought her to shame but ultimately, she learns to embrace her background. Amy Tan found her identity by spending time with her mother who spoke broken English. She supports her argument by giving an example of her two worlds. She relates her story of her mother talking about a gangster that wanted her family in China to adopt him because her family had more status. She tells us the story using her mother’s language so we can see how expressive her mother’s broken English is. Even though the language is not what we may be used to but something we can follow because of its vivid details and images. stating that the English that her mother spoke were the English in which heard things with direct and full observation and imagery, this broken English helped shape the way she saw things, expressed things and made sense of the world. (Mother Tongue). This is significant because for Tan, her mother’s language is the language of her childhood and it is clear, vivid and full of imagery. She knows that this is the same language that helped her understand the world, formulate her views and helped her to learn how to express herself.

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Gloria Anzaldua was a writer who focused on feminism, the Chicana movement, and lesbian/queer theory. In Anzaldua’s excerpt “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” from her book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, published in 1987, she addresses the topic of the ways in which identity is intertwined with the way we speak and for the ways in which people can be made to feel ashamed of their tongue. Gloria Anzaldua who speaks English and the dialect of Chicano Spanish supports this claim by presenting how the struggle with identity that many people speaking English with different dialects of Spanish face. She starts her article with a metaphor, recollecting a dentist who complained that Gloria’s tongue was strong and stubborn. So, she was frustrated and started thinking about how to tame a wild tongue. Although the dentist did not mean her accent, her reaction proves that she has had problems with the way she speaks and that makes her stay conscious of what other people think of her when she speaks. Gloria considers her accent as an essential feature that identifies her. She explains that Chicano Spanish she speaks has developed naturally as a border language. That causes problems because she is not accepted as a native speaker by both English speakers and Spanish speakers. But Gloria does not identify herself socially with either of the groups so her language is appropriate for people who speak it too. These people come from diverse, complex backgrounds. She thinks that Chicano Spanish emerged because these people wanted to identify themselves as a unique group. Gloria’s purpose is to shine a light on the idea everyone has their own identity, regardless of where you A person’s language is the key to identify – this is the main idea expressed by Gloria Anzaldua in ‘How to Tame a Wild Tongue’. And it is also proof of identity. In this way, language unites and helps different people to identify with one another. It’s up to every individual to value the language he/she speaks. It’s up to you to decide what language to speak.

To introduce the idea of bilingualism with affecting one’s reading identity, the peer-reviewed article “Being bilingual, being a reader: Pre-kindergarten dual language learner’ reading identities” written by the author, Christopher J Wagner, talks about the role of cultural identity in a bilingual program and the interplay between identity and bilingualism. This article is a research study on reading identities of three dual language learners in pre-kindergarten, it focuses on the experiences that an elementary school student has during the second language learning process in a bilingual program within a multicultural context. The research includes data which is centered on interviews, observation, and questionaries. Through the exploration of three cases, this study documents the way that identity constructed, taken up and expressed by the participants. In the study, one of the participants Jackie “showed an awareness of her ability to read in multiple languages and understood that language abilities could change over time.” (Wagner) This is very significant as it shows a relationship between how being bilingual affects your literacy development. The study allows us to see the Jackie chooses to respond to a question about English by responding in Spanish and expressed some disinterest when asked about reading in Vietnamese, although she was able to articulate complex ideas about language and ability at other times being confused to distinguish between languages.

To further illustrate the idea of how bilingualism impacts identity for children in a dual-language program. I will use is an excerpt by Ilba Yaneth Rodriguez and Lina Maria Tengo-Macias. They are authors from the University of pedagogica in Colombia. The excerpt is called “Children’s Cultural Identity Formation: Experiences in a Dual Language Program.” This research study focused on experiences that an elementary student has during the second language learning process in a bilingual program. In the study, a total of 17 students were immersed in a 50:50 program that is 50% of the classes were in English and the other 50% were in Spanish. The information was collected using in-person interviews, focus group sessions, participant artifacts, and field observation. The study found that each participant shared very similar points of view about his or her language experience. “the researcher determined that the cultural identity formation of children is connected to different choices children make regarding their behaviors, preferences and social and cultural roles. (Rodriguez and Macias). This is significant because it talks about how having two languages results in the social choice of the individual to pick what aspects they would like from which language. It allows seeing some of the different roles and behaviors that individuals adopt and how they choose to describe themselves in terms of their general attributes, family structure, and experience as a dual language learner.

Finally, as seen in the image above by Aleksandra Tarabic. The image highlights the points that I made in my essay regarding bilingualism and identity. The artists main focus for this painting was that with so many of us experiencing the world with no borders in our sights, our inhibitions are coming down, and our opportunities are going up. Certain studies have gone so far as to prove that bilingual individuals will experience numerous cognitive advantages because of this one attribution. Being fluent in another language gives us an advantage in linguistic development, perception and “brain flexibility.” In other words, this research shows that bilinguals have a more well-rounded perception of the world, and take as a more global concept, this physical space that we’re living in.

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Bilingualism Relation To Identity. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/bilingualism-relation-to-identity/
“Bilingualism Relation To Identity.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/bilingualism-relation-to-identity/
Bilingualism Relation To Identity. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/bilingualism-relation-to-identity/> [Accessed 19 Jul. 2024].
Bilingualism Relation To Identity [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2024 Jul 19]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/bilingualism-relation-to-identity/
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