Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez


"Supporters of bilingual education today imply that students like me miss a great deal by not being taught in their family's language. What they seem not to recognize is that, as a socially disadvantaged child, I considered Spanish to be a private language" (34).
          This was the first but most powerful sentence, at least in my eyes. Richard was only a first grader at this point, and he considered his first known language as a “private language”. I think this was such a powerful line due to the fact that it wasn’t a public language. When I think of private, I think that it sounds like a language he has to hide from everyone else. If that’s your first known language, why should you feel socially disadvantaged and not allowed to speak it? It really upset me when reading that. He only felt comfort at home because he was able to talk to his close, tight-knit family, since they spoke the language he was comfortable in (which soon was changed).

"Had they been taught (as upper­ middle-class children are often taught early) a second language like Spanish or French, they could have regarded it simply as that: another public language" (34). 
          I thought that this was a very interesting way of looking at learning a different language. You don’t have to say it as a “second language”, or a “private language”, yet you can look at it as just “another public language”. When you say it like this, it doesn’t seem bad. If everyone was accustomed to learning more than one language, no one would have to feel weird speaking a different language since everyone would be. Also, no child would feel “socially disadvantaged” if all of the other children were able to speak more than one language as all. In addition, in high school – it is mandatory to take another language as a class for one to two years in order to graduate. As we get older, it’s harder to learn a new language. I think it would be very effective if we taught children another language at an early age, preferably in middle school.

“But the special feeling of closeness at home was diminished by then. Gone was the desperate, urgent, intense feeling of being at home; rare was the experience of feeling myself individualized by family intimates. We remained a loving family, but one greatly changed. No longer so close; no longer bound tight by the pleasing and troubling knowledge of our public separateness" (36) AND "Matching the silence I started hearing in public was a new quiet at home. 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" (37).
          I had to include both of these quotes, because they both have to do with the same subject. Richard’s family was very close, as he said in the beginning, and he loved how close he was to his parents and siblings. As soon as they started transitioning into speaking the “common language”, or English, his family started to become distant from each other. I thought it was amazing how just changing their language that they speak at home changed how they acted towards each other. They didn’t communicate as much and I believe communication is the healthiest part of any relationship, especially a families. It also really upset me that he mentioned that his father barely even spoke afterwards. All because his first grade teachers wanted him to speak English at home.

I really enjoyed reading “Aria”. It was astonishing how much could change by trying to learn the “common language” in Richard’s household. In 2004, it was almost as if it was mandatory to learn English. Nowadays, ten years later, being bilingual is such a great thing and is recommended greatly. In the internship I’m presently taking, half of my class is bilingual. They speak English in class, but they probably speak the other language at home which isn't a bad thing.

In addition, I am currently trying to learn how to speak Spanish. Yes, it’s required to take another language to become a teacher, but I also want to because I think it’s interesting. 

Here's an article that I have attached talking about the pro's of a bilingual education... Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!


  1. Brandyliciousxo, (im laughing) I agree with everything you said, it reminds me a lot of my blog!! I really like the points you made about him saying that Spanish was a "private" language, while English was public to everyone else. He wanted to be a part of the public language, but he did not realize that he would lose total connection with his family by converting to speaking English all the time. I feel like you really connected with this reading, and I agree that everyone should learn a different language and about a different culture. Great job!!

  2. Hey Brandy. I agree with the points you made in you post especially about the private aspects of language in terms of those who speak different language. There is always something awesome about knowing that there is one thing that in a way belongs to you. I like that you talked about how everyone should be accustomed to learning different languages because for me it makes me feel like it gives us as a society another way to connect with others. Overall good post.

  3. Hi Brandy, I love your post! The quotes you chose were really meaningful, and I like how you talked about public vs. private languages - that concept was interesting for me to read, too. I also love how you connected the reading to your own life. Good job!