In the reading “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez, there is a very clear message that having english as a first language has substantial benefits and how forcing the second language at home for educational purposes can have a negative impact on the student, as well as the family.
In the video I have linked above, Simona Montanari, a professor from California State University, touches upon the pros of having being raised in a multilingual environment. I connected this to the "Aria" piece because Montanari talks about the social and emotional benefits being raised in a multilingual environment has. There are parallel views between the video and Richards point of view in his experience. Richard explains how the, "feeling of closeness at home was diminished.."(Rodriguez 36). Due to his teachers (nuns) suggestion to his parents about speaking english while at home, caused an emotional gap between the family that made things awkward for him. He mentions how when they had dinner together, that he also observed his fathers sudden quietness. However, "when I'd watch him speaking in Spanish with relatives, he was quickly effusive" (Rodriguez 37). Richard was able to realize how not speaking his native language changed his fathers position in the family and caused him to become quieter. He also mentions that being a child, they were learning english faster than their parents which caused even more difficulty in communication for the family. If the child were to explain something to their parents, the parents would often not understand what they meant and the child would almost "give up" attempting to explain because it was simply too difficult. This is where the issues of only teaching the "dominant" language (SWAAMP) in school systems occurs and causes differing opinions on the subject. I also wanted to point out Rodriguez's consistent reminder that this decision that his native language was not to be used in the classroom was taking away his own identity. One example was simply the way they pronounced his name from Ricardo to Richard. It may not seem as substantial of an issue to some, but it does take away his identity and his cultural background. The one quote that I found that hit the nail on the head was that his new understanding of the english language he had come, "to believe what had been technically true since my birth: I was an American citizen (Rodriguez 36). He finally felt that he belonged in his public environment which was something he had never had because he of his inability to communicate in the classroom. This cartoon below shows how not taking into consideration that english may be a second language to the student, we are unable to help them understand, which in turn may cause the student to ultimately fail.