The Importance Of Bilingualism

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Speaking another language is like being a part of a secret club that only people who can speak your language have a membership to. When you run into a person who speaks the same language as you in public, you get excited and converse with them because you have found another member of the club. To people who are non-bilingual, bilingualism may be used to classify those who do not belong in your country. To English language learners, bilingualism is one’s identity and their connection with their culture. The different opinions on bilingualism have created conflict and struggles for non-native speakers. Espada describes bilingualism in The New Bathroom Policy at English High School as something that defines one’s identity and history. He expresses it as dual language speakers being able to “use the tongue of their history and identity” (19). With the increasing attempts to get rid of non-native speakers, English language learners should fight to preserve their identities. Espada argues, “The repression of Spanish is part of a larger attempt to silence Latinos, and, like the crazy uncle at the family dinner table yelling about independence or socialism, we must refuse to be silenced” (297). Espada argues that bilingual people have the responsibility to protect their culture by going against the repression of their language. In order to prevent the silencing of a language, bilingualists must band together. Going out in public and hearing a foreign language, people subconsciously assume the foreigners are speaking about them. Native speakers become self-conscious and filled with fear. Espada believes non-bilingual people’s attempts to silence English language learners result from the fear of not understanding a foreign language. A staff member at Lynn English High School stated, “In a spasm of paranoia, many Anglos assume that the only reason Latinos speak Spanish in their presence is to say diabolical things about those same Anglos” (Espada 121). The inability to understand the Latino’s language results in the assumption that they’re badmouthing Anglos. Espada points out that bilingualism generates toxicity because English-only speakers feel bilingual people are talking behind their back. Espada views

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