Aquí sont za bündel van parole

November 7, 2017

 

Entiendes esta pregunta? Si no, 这没什么大不了的. Recently, a man told me he considers me a “global phenomenon."

 

I was born in Jiangmen, China and am genetically Chinese with partial Polynesian descent. 
I speak with a natural American accent as I was raised in the U.S. by American parents but, I don’t know an ounce of Chinese even though it is my identified race. 


At 8 months old I was adopted by a Schrader and an Alvarez. From moving around the states I’ve lost a bit of fluency in Spanish pero todavía lo puedo entender y hablarlo más o menos. 


If my German großvater had been alive, perhaps I would be able to understand more Deutsch apart from what I have picked up in the past two years. 


Aside from my abuela, the sheer fact of growing in Miami, heavily populated by Cubanos, gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the language and retain it.

 

Most American schools offer Spanish classes but realistically, it’s almost impossible to truly learn a language that way. 


There’s also an immeasurable amount of people who weren’t given exposure to a second language in the first place.

 

When I lived in Virginia, the idea of a second language was treated as an unattainable talent by some due to the predominance of white people and lack of diversity. 


If I were in that position, I would discipline myself to attempt a new language or understand the general vocabulary at the very least.

 

A New York Times opinion piece described specific experiments which proved that bilingualism “improves cognitive skills not related to language and even shields against dementia in old age.”


Before my trips to Deutschland I found the app “Duolingo” to be quite helpful with keywords and phrases but there are also other similar apps with the same focus.


Obviously, an application isn’t much more effective than standing in a Macaroni Grill bathroom to learn Italian but, in conjunction with other resources, it’s doable. 


In El Paso, I know several people who are Mexican and don’t understand Spanish.

 

The most common reasons are that parents never bothered to enforce it or the individual refuses to learn.

 

Both instances are inexcusable because ignorance should not pardon the potential loss of a language or ability to speak to family. 


The ones who are not to blame for not knowing their race’s tongue are the people like me.

 

I am adopted therefore, I was never exposed to Chinese and am not expected to know it.


The Huffington Post recounted a young man’s experience with an older Mexican man who was astounded that he, who “looked more Mexican,” did not understand Spanish.

 

As it turned out, he was raised in Los Angeles and his parents neglected to address him in Spanish. 


The writer said that total separation is not the answer nor is loss of roots but that learning English is vital in America for communication.

 

I agree to some extent because there is a certain amount of importance when it comes to all languages.


The other day at Barnes & Noble I heard a couple requesting for books split between English and Spanish because the husband was trying to teach his wife English.

 

I caught a snippet of the man speaking in Spanish to his wife and although he had a heavy American accent, he indeed knew the language. 


There is beauty and complexity in each language and the manner people come to understand them. All that is absent, is cultural interest, respect and relativism. 

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