Richard Rodriquez on Bilingual Education
In “Memories of a Bilingual Childhood,” Richard Rodriquez argues against bilingual education with reflection to his own experiences. He states that “It is not possible for a child, any child, ever to use his family’s language in school. Not to understand this is to misunderstand the public uses of schooling and to trivialize the nature of intimate life.” Rodriquez believes that school is a place in which people develop their public identity. To merge “intimate” aspects with public ones creates no distinction between the two and in result, both could be lost.
As a child, Rodriquez associated intimacy with language. As time passed, the realization was that the language itself was not the source for Rodriquez. He concluded, “to seek intimate sounds is to seek the company of intimates.” So therefore, intimacy does not rely solely on words but rather on the presence of people. In defining public and private identity, he reminds us that one cannot be public and remain private at the same time. It would be as if he used his “private” language randomly in public, than the intimacy would be lost forever.
One day his teachers came to his home and explained that he was not doing so well in school and therefore the English language needed to be enforced in the house (453). The teachers asked for his parents to try to speak English with Rodriguez and his siblings. Rodriquez explains how speaking Spanish at home was the family language and it made him feel a intimate and close with his family and it ...
It is important to keep some aspects of your life separate, but according to Rodriquez, success depends on your fluency in the public language. Without knowing the dominant language, it is very hard to obtain a job, or even go to the supermarket. As long as Bilingual Education is allowed, minorities will be put at a disadvantage in society.
Richard Rodriquez believes that bilingual education hinders minorities from developing a public identity and is disadvantageous to their success because it does not push them to use the dominant language.