Sunday, September 29, 2013

Talking Points #2: Aria by Richard Rodriguez


"Aria" by Richard Rodriguez was a really thought provoking article for me. Throughout the text, Rodriguez explains his struggles as a Spanish speaking child. He explains, "What I did not believe was that I could speak a single public language"(34). Spanish appeared to him as a private language that was only welcomed in his home, and even that was taken away from him. Luckily, he began to accept being bilingual and changed his thought process on learning the English language. Because of this, he became a much more confident person and speaker. It automatically made me think of Lisa Delpit's article from last week: because of how inferior Richard Rodriguez felt, his situation led me to think about the rules and codes of power. Those who do not speak the dominant language of their society feel like they do not have power. 

I decided to choose the reflective prompt option because I can relate to Rodriguez in a less severe way. Since starting my new job, I've become much more aware of different cultures and languages; something that is not very diverse in my home town. Before starting, English was basically the only language I ever heard, besides hearing an occasional spanish-speaking person pass by or the couple of beginner Spanish courses I've taken. Now, whenever I'm at work I am the minority. Many of the people that I work with speak Spanish, and most of them speak little to no English. My bosses and a few of the employees speak English, but they also speak Arabic fluently to each other throughout the shifts. I can relate to Rodriguez because I know how it feels to have everyone around you speaking a different language that you don't understand. It's challenging trying to communicate with people when there are language barriers, and I realize this more and more as I work at the restaurant. Like Rodriguez, having such difficulty understanding another language only makes me want to learn it even more. Since starting my job, I've put more effort into learning more Spanish and even more Arabic, because I've learned that each language is just as important as the next, and that they are all forms of communication. Seeing that 90% of the people that I work with are bilingual makes me more motivated to learn a second language too, and I plan on continuing to work on learning Spanish. I'm glad that I read this article, because Rodriguez opened up my eyes when I read on page 34, "...I wrongly imagined that English was intrinsically a public language and Spanish an intrinsically private one". Before, I didn't see Spanish as a public language, because it was never around me. Now I see that it's a very public language, and that being bilingual is an advantageous skill to have in this current day and age. 


  1. Hey Cara,
    You'll soon pick up the language if you're really interested. Haitian Creole is my native tongue, but moving from Boston from an area where most of the people spoke my language to Providence, I had to some way adapt to my new environment. I soon picked up Spanish. Though I may not be able to communicate with a spanish speaker, I can understand about 80% of what they say. You'll soon pick up a few words here and there.

  2. Hey Cara,
    I am not surprised when you say about 90 percent of the people you work with are bilingual. Nowadays, we see more and more bilingual people; more than we ever have before. Being motivated to learn a second language is great. The U.S.A. will be even MORE bilingual in the next decade or so, and knowing a different language will give you a huge advantage in the work force.