Student’s History and Linguistic background in First language
When I turned eight, I discovered that English was an essential tool in my life, and no longer resent from it. As a Hmong child to three siblings and a single mother, it is tradition for a male descent such as me to firmly hold onto my roots. After my parents were divorced, my family lived in poverty. My mother spoke in broken English, and she had trouble finding ways to meet our needs. We were very limited to education. My siblings and I did not have access to books nor to TV at home, because we could not afford these materials. The only item that sat in our small apartment was a weave plastic carpet, which my family used as a couch. At the time, we did not have anything worth over $100.
Being a single mother, my mother feared that my siblings and me would gradually lose our Hmong language if we invested too much time in English. Therefore, seeing my mother’s struggles, I wanted to make her happy by following her wishes. Instead of investing time in English, I would spend more time speaking, writing in Hmong, and reading Hmong hymn songs. Soon, Hmong became my dominant language, and acquiring English was pushed into the shadows. I did not speak English at home. No, not until the age of eight.
Although English was not used in my house, my mother taught my siblings and me how to read and write in Hmong. By the time I reached the age of 12, I was literate in both Hmong and English. However, there was clearly a difference...
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...her English to build her social network. I cannot say that my Hmong and English are equivalent, but they close. I am still comfortable with my first language and would prefer using it over English. My parity in the four skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) in Hmong is excellent because I practice my language skills in Hmong routinely at home and church. I still need to practice my English skills. I believe I have grasped the essence of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. However, I am not completely confident in my writing and speaking skills yet. Why do I feel this way? My academic grades confirmed that I still need a constant drill in writing. Prior to writing, I also need to refine my enunciation skills. Many people have asked me to repeat my sentences because they could not comprehend “clearly” what I trying to say – specifically my enunciation.
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