Speaking Spanish in the USA

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As a child, I had to navigate from an English speaking classroom to a Spanish speaking home. From eight in the morning I was given instruction in English by my professors at school. After three in the afternoon at home I engaged in Spanish conversation with my mother, father, and siblings. When the summer vacation came around, it was back to speaking Spanish only, and then I regained the Mexican accent that had faded away during the school year.

My experience learning English was different from what earlier Spanish speaking generations in the United States dealt with. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Gloria Anzaldúa writes, “being caught speaking Spanish at recess… that was good for three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler” (Anzaldúa 374). Born in 1942, a few years later Anzaldua was dealing with physical abuse to discourage her from speaking Spanish at school (Anzaldua 373). In my experience, learning a few words of English as a child was rewarded with stickers that read “good job” or “fantastic”. More than physical abuse Anzaldúa experienced psychological abuse. Anzaldúa writes, “if you want to be American, speak ‘American’. If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong” those were the words of the Anglo teacher reminding Anzaldúa of the society she was living in (374). The little girl was a “sixth-generation Tejana”, and the only country she recognized as home was the United States of America (Anzaldúa 373). In spite of the physical and psychological abuse Anzaldúa continue her American education, why? Her mother played a role. At home, her mother reminded her to, “speak English properly” and not “like a Mexican” to get a good job in American society (Anzaldúa 374). Anzaldúa writes, “Chicanos a...

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