This essay was written by a student enrolled in English 1A.
It is reproduced here to give you an opportunity to apply some of the concepts you've been
discussing in class, concepts that you will also find presented in the pages of this OWL.
You may or may not have read the texts to which this essay
refers; this is not as important as your ability to follow the student author's line of
reasoning. The works-cited section at the end of the essay will
provide enough information for you to find the texts should you want to read them.
What you will find here is a revision; the paper began as a
draft, went through a pre-reading and critiquing by peers, and was revised before
submission. It is not a perfect paper but has strengths and weaknesses worth discussing.
As you read, look for things worth emulating in your own papers and try to identify
specific parts that still need revision, making note of both.
When you finish reading the paper, you will find questions
intended to open a discussion about how this
paper is organized and structured, asking you to read the paper rhetorically for purpose, message, audience and voice. Listen to
how the student presents her or his ideas: is this the paper of a "Clay Model" student trying to find an academic
voice; is this the paper of a "White Shoes"
student presenting a story that requires little of an audience; or is this the paper of a
"Composing Music" student, a student who carefully
considers what she has to say so that her audience will clearly understand her?
If your instructor has assigned this exercise, you may be
able to email your response to the questions. Look to see if her or his name is
included in the drop-down list to the side of the questions and click
on the button to generate an email form.
Native or Foreign
In our country today, we are a nation of diverse cultures.
Our society has now become African American, Asian American, Hispanic
American, and Native American. "When the Western world forced its way upon us, the
result was a struggle between out traditional education and attempts by the outside world
to assimilate us in their society by force-feeding their education upon us" (Ronnie
Lupe, 2). With the U.S. being a majority English speaking country, these other cultures
have to adapt or resort to speaking this countries' so called native tongue. Because of
this, individuals are losing a sense of the culture and are no longer able to represent
their own kind in the country. Even in certain workplaces, the use
foreign language is strictly forbidden. For example, "Last January 31, 1992, Filipino
employees of Contra Costa convalescent homes, together with their AFL-CIO union, sued Casa
San Miguel in Supreme Court in Concord for discrimination against Filipino Workers. They
had been disciplined by the care home management for speaking Tagalog in the
workplace" (Prudencio Europa, 17). The cultures as well as its people are losing
their identity due to the single fact that their foreign language is no longer used, and
in some cases not allowed in this English speaking country. Being Filipino, I am not
recognized as a "true Filipino" because I lack the ability to speak our native
tongue, Tagalog, nor do I have an understanding of it. The common judgement toward me from
my people is, "He can not speak, so why should he represent us?" This is why I
believe that being fluent in our native tongue can give you respectability from our own
people. It allows us to have a more defined identity, it enriches our cultural background,
it enables us to communicate with our own people, it allows you to get respect from your
own people, and most importantly it is a way to keep our culture alive.
"[B]ecoming American means
adopting new values, defining new self and finding new voice" (Kingston,16). As U.S.
citizens, we must change traditional aspects of our lives in order to fit in the American
way of life. As a result, we lose touch of our own culture, leaving everything we know
about it behind. In my family, the responsibility of passing on our Filipino culture onto
future generations is placed upon the young people of our race. It is now that more an
more adolescent individuals are becoming less interested in their native language, because
of the everyday exposure of American life. From experience, I know that young adults who
have no kind of understanding of their language, such as Tagalog, Chinese, Japanese, or
Spanish etc. are viewed different and are almost segregated from their own race. For
example, in college universities, a large population of the students are Chinese. There is
a division between this culture; there are the fluent Chinese (those who speak and
understand the language) and there are the so called "A, B, C's," which stands
for "American Born Chinese." Not being able to speak our own native language
makes us silent and invisible to our own people. To the American society, we can speak
freely, but to our people, we have no voice. To most cultures, this is recognized as a
In the month of June, 1993, I went back to my hometown
Manila, Philippines for a three week vacation. This was probably the most trialing
experience in my life. When we arrived, I was introduced to several cousins I had never
met before. As we greeted, I started off with a "Hello, how are you doing?" My
cousins were giving me offensive looks and truthfully, I was not immediately accepted.
Because I could not speak our native language, or even know how to say "hello"
in Tagalog, I was not recognized as a "true Filipino." Every uncle and auntie I
met kept asking me why I could not speak Tagalog, in a very disappointing manner. I had a
difficult time communication with many of my relatives and I could not understand what
they were saying to me. I felt disappointed in myself. Because I received no respect, I
simply could not communicate and I could not relate to my own people.
In an article entitled,
"Cherokee Language committee Holds Summit," from a periodical, The Cherokee
Advocate, discusses the importance of preserving the native language of the Cherokee
tribe. "Throughout the years, use of the Cherokee language has faded causing us to
lose some of our culture. It's imperative we initiate a plan to preserve the identity of
the Cherokee people" (Cherokee Advocate, 21). Many cultures in the U.S. are
struggling to keep their language in use. They lack the empowerment to keep their culture
strong. There are many obstacles to overcome in order to achieve such status. "The
best place to begin preservation (of our language) is in the communities" (Cherokee,
21). We cannot depend on the existence of our cultures to continue if the people do not
take the initiative to make sure that their language is carried on. "We can't decree
language preservation. The people themselves have to truly want to preserve
it"(Cherokee, 21). The first step is hard to achieve in America, especially when
parents of foreign nationality are now trying to teach their children the American values.
This is due to the fact that the English language empowers you to survive in this country
of diverse cultures. Loss of language can generally be attributed to the non-use and the
non-exposure. When you are not taught to speak your own native tongue, the more it will be
obsolete in the future.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to learn my own
language. It is a major asset to actually "being" Filipino, Chinese, Mexican,
African, etc. I now realized that when we are not fluent in our language, we are stripped
from our identity. On the other hand, being able to speak our native tongue will allow us
to gain respect and acknowledgment from our parents and elders. My "Lola and
Lolo" (grandmother and grandfather) were only fluent in Tagalog. I regret the fact
that I never had the chance to bond or form a long lasting relationship with them.
Learning our own language shows that you have taken the time to learn and appreciate our
cultural background. It also shows that we care and are curious about where we came from.
Knowing your language is not just knowing how to speak it, it is also knowing your
historic background. I know that from my experience, my parents would like me to very
knowledgeable about our family history because it gives them the security that our culture
will continue on for generations to come. I think the main thing our elders are most
worried about is the fear of completely losing our culture. That is why when they see it
in their youth, they feel very proud.
Speaking our native language has a lot to do with being
able to communicate with our own people, but there is much more to it than just that. It
can also define our true identity. Not only does it empower us to relate to others but it
also empowers us to discover who and what we are. Being Filipino, but also American, I am part of a generation struggling to find its identity. We
must pass through pain and joy and solitude and community to discover our own inner self
that is unlike any other and come through that passage to the place where we see all
people are one, and in so seeing may live our life in a brighter future (Johnson, 127).
Being able to speak and understand my own language would give me a sense of satisfaction,
not just because all my parents and relatives would finally accept me as a "true
Filipino," but also because of the fact that I gained that respect and that I have a
whole identity. I don't have one part of me hidden behind a black curtain, I can truly
express myself in my true colors (Kingston, 18). We have to not only realize what being
able to speak fluently in our native language means to our people, but equally important,
what it means to ourselves.
Many activities are being set up by language preservation
committees. Foreign languages are being taught in schools; lessons are available in
college, high school and even in elementary. There are also writing practice classes and
even summer camps to teach foreign languages to young adults. All these activities could
be used to help us empower ourselves to keep our cultural status alive, and enable us to
become more aware within our cultural community.
If there is one thing we want from our culture, it is being
accepted. In my country and I know as well as many others, being apart of your people has
to do with more than just having the color of skin. I am a prime example, I have Filipino
blood, I have the Filipino color, but because I am so Americanized,I am not acknowledged
as being Filipino. To my own culture I am illiterate, but I am learning to speak. Having
the ability to speak will empower you to communicate and relate with your own people, and
to receive full respect and recognition. I would feel the satisfaction in myself when or
if I become fully recognized as a Filipino. All I want is to be able to proudly represent
my people to the fullest. Being able to speak is a very strong part to a culture. I think
carrying out our ability and passing it down to generations is our only hope to keep our
Bloom, Ben "What Does it Mean to be
Filipino-American?" Asian Week 23 September 1994: p. 2
(No Author given) "Cherokee Language Preservation
Committee Holds Summit," Cherokee Advocate 31 July 1993: 21.
Europa, Prudencio B. "Pointblank: English Only -
Tagalog Taboo," Filipino Reporter 7April 1994: 17.
Johnson, Lewis P. "For My Indian Daughter."
Connections: A Multicultural Reader for Writers. Ed. Judith A Stanford. Mountain View, CA:
Mayfield, 1993. 125-128.
Kingston, Maxine Hong "The Language of Silence."
Lupe, Ronnie "Chairman's Corner: I am Looking for a
Day when Our Children are Finally Receiving Quality Education," Fort Apache Scout 10
June 1994: p. 2
Please make sure to include your name.
Even though this author writes a great
deal about being a "true Filipino" and speaking Tagalog, the essay seems to
address the relationship between language and identity. Are the author's frequent
references to himself effective support for that intended relationship? Why or why not?
Demonstrate your answer by using specific examples from the essay and explaining how these
examples support your conclusion.
The paragraph that talks about the Cherokee
language is juxtaposed between paragraphs relating personal experiences; why? What
relationship does the author intend the reader to understand? The paper's second paragraph
begins by quoting Maxine Hong Kingston; is this an effective strategy?
Does this second paragraph prepare the reader for the three paragraphs that follow it? Be
sure to use examples from the paper to explain and support your conclusion.
Throughout most of the essay, when the
author quotes other texts, he quotes whole sentences or passages (see Ronnie Lupe,
Prudencio Europa, Maxine
Hong Kingston, and the report on the Cherokee Language
Preservation Committee). However, near the end of the essay the author paraphrases
Lewis P. Johnson (and Kingston) rather than directly
quoting. Compare these two ways of using texts and explain which seems more effective.
Rewrite one or two of the passages where the author has used a direct quote and either
paraphrase or selectively quote, using only essential information or key words from the
What corrections need to be made
to the formatting of the works-cited section? Revise this section so that it is